Russia can launch ICBMs at minute's notice - missile forces chief
11/02/2009 16:36 MOSCOW, February 11 (RIA Novosti) - Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) in service with the Russian Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) could be launched within a minute if Russia's security is threatened, the SMF commander has said.
"Over 6,000 servicemen are on 24/7 combat duty, and at least 96% of all missile systems are ready for deployment within several dozen seconds. It is the highest readiness level among the components of the Russian nuclear triad," Col. Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov said in an interview published on Wednesday by the Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper.
At present, six types of silo-based and mobile ICBM systems of the fourth and the fifth generation, including the heavy Voyevoda (SS-18 Satan), capable of carrying 10 warheads, and the Topol-M (Stalin) systems, are on combat duty with the SMF.
According to open sources, the total arsenal of Russia's SMF comprises 538 ICBMs, including 306 SS-25 Topol (Sickle) missiles and 56 SS-27 Topol-M missiles.
"The fifth regiment at the Tatishchevo Missile Division, which is armed with silo-based Topol-M complexes, was fully staffed in 2008, and there are now 50 silo-based Topol-M systems on combat duty," the general said.
The first two Topol-M mobile missile battalions, equipped with six road-mobile systems, have already been put on combat duty with the 54th Strategic Missile Division near the town of Teikovo, about 150 miles (240 km) northeast of Moscow.
The deployment will continue in 2009 and the division will be up to full strength by 2010, Solovtsov said.
The Topol-M missile, with a range of about 7,000 miles (11,000 km), is said to be immune to any current and future U.S. missile defenses. It is capable of making evasive maneuvers to avoid a kill using terminal phase interceptors, and carries targeting countermeasures and decoys.
It is also shielded against radiation, electromagnetic pulses and nuclear blasts, and is designed to survive a hit from any known form of laser technology.
Solovtsov also said that in 2009 the SMF would start bringing into service systems equipped with new-generation (RS-24) intercontinental ballistic missiles, bearing multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) warheads.
"Making this missile system operational will help bolster the SMF's combat capabilities to overpower missile defense systems, thus strengthening the nuclear deterrence potential of the Russian nuclear triad," Solovtsov said.
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