The Forces account for two thirds of Russia’s nuclear weapons. Possessing a big arsenal of intercontinental ballistic missiles, they are capable of hitting any target anywhere in the world with pinpoint accuracy. Their arsenal consists of six missile types – three, based in silos, and three, mounted on rail platforms or trucks. Importantly, the US does not possess truck- or rail-mounted missiles.
Dr Igor Korotchenko is Editor-in-Chief of the Natsionalnaya Oborona, or National Defence, journal:
The might of Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces safeguards a secure future for our country. The latest addition to this might is the RS-24 Yars intercontinental ballistic missile, which can be positioned in a silo or on the back of a heavy truck. A missile of this type carries six independently targeted nuclear warheads of 150 kilotons TNT each. The Forces also possess another truck-mounted intercontinental missile, the Topol-M. It carries a single powerful nuclear warhead, which is capable of wiping out a megacity.
The Forces are taking on a new strategic dimension as the Americans, having withdrawn from the 1972 ABM limitation treaty, continue to refuse to extend binding guarantees that no US missile defence installation on European soil will compromise Russia’s deterrence capability. Powerful missiles capable of smashing through missile defences are a guarantee in themselves.
On December 17th this year Russia’s Strategic Rocket Forces, or RVSN, mark the 53rd anniversary. Unlike other branches of the Russian Military, the Strategic Rocket Forces never engage in military operations but are always combat ready. As the Forces undergo a revamp, experts wonder what they will be like by 2020.
The Strategic Rocket Forces remain one of the pillars of the Russian Military, Igor Korotchenko of “National Defense” magazine, says.
"The Russian Strategic Rocket Forces make up a major element of the country’s Strategic Nuclear Forces. Their battle-readiness is vital for ensuring Russia’s national security. The Forces are now being re-equipped with the RS-24 “Yars” solid-fuel mobile silo-based intercontinental missiles."
First formed in the Soviet Armed Forces, the Strategic Rocket Forces continued to effectively guarantee the country’s battle readiness in post-Soviet days. This was largely due to efforts on the part of the country’s leadership. The current renewal of the Strategic Rocket Forces’ military potential became possible thanks to the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology and the Votkinsk plant – the designer and producer of the Topol, Topol M and Yars missiles.
The Teykovskaya Division located in the Ivanovo Region has become the first army unit to be fully rearmed with new systems intercontinental missile systems this year. Two regiments of the Division have been provided with the Topol M mobile systems and two – with the Yars missiles. 36 rocket launchers and more than 70 combat units are enough wipe out any enemy. In present-day conditions, however, the Strategic Rocket Forces’ striking power is secondary to their combat readiness and security.
Mobile systems acquired greater importance for the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces after Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev signed the START-3 Treaty, which lifted restrictions on the areas of their deployment. Given that it’s now become difficult to foresee which operational area the missile will be launched from, detecting and intercepting it has become much more difficult as well. Mobility is therefore giving much more security than thousands of tons of reinforced concrete and dozens of centimeters of silo’s armor.
The Yars mobile intercontinental missiles are to replace the Soviet-era Topols completely in the next 10 years. If this agenda is met, the program to maintain the Strategic Rocket Forces’ combat readiness amid the deployment of the US missile defense system will be implemented in full. Despite their mobility, the new systems need protection against any surprise attacks. To this end, the military authorities should create areas protected against enemy attacks by a reliable aerospace defense system.