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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia launches ICBM RS-18 from Baikonur in Kazakhstan

RIA Novosti

29/10/2007 13:16 (Adds details, quotes in paras 2, 4-9)

MOSCOW, October 29 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) have successfully launched an intercontinental ballistic missile RS-18 (SS-19 Stiletto) from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, an SMF spokesman said.

Russia's SMF regularly launch missiles to test their performance characteristics and decide whether they can remain in service.

"The launch of the ICBM RS-18 was successfully conducted at midday Moscow time [8:a.m. GMT] October 29 from the Baikonur space center," Colonel Alexander Vovk said.

"A simulated warhead has reached the Kura testing site on the Kamchatka peninsula [in the Russian Far East]," the official said.

He said the launch had been conducted in order to assess the possibility of extending the service life of the Stiletto ICBMs, which have so far been operational for 29 years.

"As a result of the successful test launch, the service life of one of our most reliable missile complexes will be extended to 31 years," Vovk said.

RS-18 missiles have a combat range exceeding 9,600 km [more than 6,000 miles], and are considered to be highly reliable.

Over 100 silo-based Stiletto missiles are currently in service with the SMF, with each missile carrying six 550-kiloton warheads.

The SMF commander, Colonel General Nikolai Solovtsov, said last Friday that RS-18 (SS-19 Stiletto) and RS-12M (SS-25 Sickle) will be gradually replaced by new RS-24 ICBMs, equipped with MIRV warheads and characterized by high missile-defense penetration capability.

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