Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


R-29RMU / RSM-54 Sineva / SS-N-23 SKIFF

Russia on Thursday 04 March 2010 successfully test-launched a Sineva intercontinental ballistic missile from a submarine. The missile was launched at 07:50 a.m. Moscow time (0450 GMT) from the Tula submarine in the Barents Sea. The Sineva, which is already in service is a liquid-propellant submarine-launched ballistic missile designed for Delta IV-class submarines. The Sineva is a rival to the troubled Bulava, a three-stage liquid and solid-propellant ballistic missile intended for deployment on the new Borei-class submarines. By now, seven of the 12 test-launches of the Bulava missile have been reported as unsuccessful.

The RSM-54 Sineva (NATO designation SS-N-23 Skiff) is a third-generation liquid-propellant intercontinental ballistic missile that entered service with the Russian Navy in July 2007. R-29RM Sineva has been designed by Makeyev Design Bureau (Miass, Chelyabinsk region) and is said to be one of the most promising projects of Russia's military industry. These RSM-54 missiles will be able to stand on alert status until 2030.

The word Sineva evidently means "dark blue" in Russian. "Sineva" is the title of the un-official Russian Airborne troops [Blue Berets] anthem. Sineva is an abnormal blue coloration of sap and (rarely) sound wood caused by the activities of mold and the types of fungi that cause rot.

In contrast to the Americans, who have always used only solid propellant SLBMs, the Russians have continued to use liquid-propelled missiles, perhaps on grounds of extensive experience and confidence in their safety, but surely because of consistent disappointment with the solid-propelled R-31 (SS-N-17) and R-39 (SS-N-20).

Unlike its predecessor, the Skif, the Sineva carries 10 independently targetable re-entry vehicles instead of four. The new missile has a longer range and a modern control system developed for Makeyev's Bark SLBM (SS-NX-28). It can carry four or 10 nuclear warheads, depending on the modification. The RSM-54 carries four, and the Sineva (with a service life of several decades) 10 individually targetable reentry vehicles, with a yield of 100Kt each.

Because the Sineva's R&D program was undermined, but by early 2004 the Navy had not received a single Sineva even though it was supposed to take delivery of the missile in 2002 according to the state's Strategy for Arms Development Until 2010. The missile was successfully tested in 2004.

During the strategic command exercise "Security-2004" held 10-18 February 2004 nuclear submarines Novomoskovsk and Karelia failed to do exercise launches of Sineva missiles. Mystery surrounded the huge military exercises in Arctic Russia attended by President Putin on 17 Febuary 2004, with some navy sources saying planned missile launches had failed. Top Navy brass denied any incident had occurred. Navy commander Vladimir Kuroyedov said there had been no plans to launch any missiles. In fact, the launch of two ballistic missiles from a submarine in the Barents Sea had failed. The incident, which may have been caused by a military satellite blocking the launch signal, did not lead to any serious consequences for the K-407 Novomoskovsk 667BDRM Delta IV class nuclear submarine.

On 18 February 2004 Russia launched four missiles as part of its ongoing military exercise, but one of them was self-destructed after veering off course. A Molnia communication satellite and an intercontinental ballistic missile were launched from Plesetsk cosmodrome, a strategic RS-18 (Stiletto) missile was launched from Baikonur cosmodrome. However, the RSM-54 ballistic missile deviated from its plannedtrack shortly after the flight and was self-destructed. The missile began to veer off trajectory 98 seconds after it was launched by the Karelia nuclear-powered submarine in the Barents Sea and the self-liquidation system triggered itself. On 01 March 2004 President Vladimir Putin instructed the acting defence minister to carry out an urgent investigation into the reasons for the failure of the launch of three RSM-54 ballistic missiles from the Karelia and Novomoskovsk SSBNs in mid-February 2004.

On 17 March 2004 Novomoskovsk nuclear submarine of the Russian Northern Fleet did a successful exercise launch of the intercontinental ballistic missile RSM-54 Sineva (NATO code Skiff). Reportedly the missile's two warheads hit the preset targets. On 17 August 2005 Russian President Vladimir Putin, together with Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, watched the test-launch of a ballistic missile from the Yekaterinburg nuclear submarine earlier on Wednesday. In about half an hour after the launch, the warheads of the Sineva missile successfully hit the designated targets on the Kura test field in the Kamchatka peninsula.

On 08 September 2006 a Sineva missile was launched by the K-84 Yekaterinburg strategic submarine. The missile was launched from an ice-covered polar region toward the Chizha test site at the Kanin Peninsula. The three warheads that the missile was reported to carry successfully reached their targets.

The missile was accepted for service on July 9 2007 and is produced on a serial basis by Makeyev Design Bureau. The seven submarines of the project 667BRDM Dolphin Delta-4 are being upgraded and equipped with the Sineva liquid-propellant ballistic missiles

On 17 December 2007 Nuclear submarine Tula of Russia's Northern Navy test-fired a ballistic missile. According to the official, the submarine fired the missile from under the water surface with a view to check the battling capacity of the nation's strategic nuclear forces. Nuclear cruiser Tula is a submarine of 667BDRM class. These submarines are equipped with Sineva RSM-54 ballistic missiles.

RSM-54, and its latest version Sineva R-29RMU (Skiff SSN-23) once more successfully tested on 25 December 2007. The Tula submarine, built in 1987, has been modernized at the Zvyozdochka (Starlet) Engineering Plant in Severodvinsk in the Arkhangelsk Region. The submarine is equipped with 16 intercontinental PSM-54 missiles and torpedoes. Tula submarines constitute the mainstay of the strategic nuclear fleet. Seven of the series were built between 1984 and 1992.

On 11 October 2008 Russia's northern fleet held military exercises in the Murmansk region. Russia's President Dimitry Medvedev praised the maneuvers paying special attention to the launch of the intercontinental missile 'Sineva', which he watched from Russia's only aircraft carrier. The ministry of defence says the rocket, which was fired from the fleet's nuclear submarine 'Tula', reached its longest distance yet - 11,547 kilometers. An aide to the Russian navy commander said it was the first time a submarine had launched the Sineva ballistic missile to its maximum range. "For the first time in Navy history, the launch was not to the Kura test range in Kamchatka [Russian Far East], but to the area of an equatorial part of the Pacific," Captain 1st rank Igor Dygalo said, adding that the launch was made to check the preparedness of naval strategic nuclear forces. The Sineva launch was made as part of the Dvina tactical exercises of the Russian Northern Fleet, which are also part of larger-scale Stability-2008 exercises conducted with Belarus that started in September and will run until October 21.




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