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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia to test launch Topol ballistic missile in April

RIA Novosti

30/03/2009 16:06 MOSCOW, March 30 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will test launch on April 10 a Topol intercontinental ballistic missile from the Plesetsk space center in northern Russia, the Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) said on Monday.

The RS-12M Topol (SS-25 Sickle) is a single-warhead intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) approximately the same size and shape as the U.S. Minuteman ICBM. The first Topol missiles were put into service in 1985.

"The goal of the upcoming launch is to confirm the reliability of the technical characteristics [of the missile] during an extended service period," the SMF said in a statement.

The missile has a maximum range of 10,000 km (6,125 miles) and can carry a 550-kiloton nuclear warhead.

Although the service life of the SS-25 was extended to 21 years after a series of successful test launches last year, the missile will be progressively retired over the next decade and be replaced by a mobile version of the Topol-M (SS-27 Stalin) missile.

According to open sources, Russia's SMF has a total of 541 ICBMs, including 306 Topol missiles and 59 Topol-M missiles.



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