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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Irkutsk - 29th Guards Missile Division
guards missile Vitebsk Order of Lenin Red Banner Division
52°19'N 104°14'E

Guards Missile Vitebsk Order of Lenin Red Banner formation was created on the basis of the 51st Guards Rifle Vitebsk Order of Lenin Red Banner Division. On the basis of the directive of the Commander-in-Chief of the Strategic Missile Forces of June 4, 1960, the formation took up combat duty.

In July-December 1962, 2 starting divisions of one of the regiments of the formation took part in a government mission on the island of Cuba (Operation Anadyr). In 1974 the division was awarded the pennant "For Courage and Military Valor". In January 1986, the unit completed its redeployment from Jelgava and Shauliai to Irkutsk.

During the period from 1961 to the present time, the formation's missile divisions carried out 16 combat training launches. The division is armed with mobile-based Topol missile systems with an RS-12M missile.

Russia’s Strategic Rocket Forces (SRF) includes three missile armies, which, in turn, comprise 11 missile divisions. These divisions are spread across Russia’s territory, from Vypolzovo in the west to the Irkutsk region in eastern Siberia. In Irkutsk is the headquarters of the 29th Guards Missile Division of the Vitebsk Order of Lenin of the Red Banner Army, part of the Strategic Missile Forces. The unit is armed with the Topol-M ICBM. Deployment of the RS-26 missile at Irkutsk, which places it out of range of Europe but within range of China and other nations to its south and east.

Irkutsk is Russia's Irkutsk region 's capital, with 300 years of city history, is Siberia's largest industrial city , transportation and business hub, but also in Eastern Siberia's second largest city, Irkutsk City is located at the southern end of Lake Baikal, the closest city to Lake Baikal , where the Angara and Irkut rivers meet. Russia's largest aircraft manufacturer, Irkutsk Aircraft Manufacturing Plant, is located in the city and produces Su-27, Su-30 fighters, bombers and transport aircraft. Irkutsk region is in the south and central Siberian plateau, west of Lake Baikal , and adjacent to Mongolia in the south, covering an area of 767,900 square kilometers. It has a continental climate and a long cold period. Irkutsk is an important tourist city in Siberia. Irkutsk Oblast is located in the southern Mid-Siberian Plateau, west of Lake Baikal. It is adjacent to Mongolia in the south.

Irkutsk is known as "the heart of Siberia", "Paris of the East" and "Pearl of Siberia". The city center and residents are connected by natural birch forest. The Angara River runs through the city and there is a bridge connecting Lake Baikal. After the Angara River flows from Lake Baikal, it forms a large bay, known as the Irkutsk Sea and enjoys beautiful scenery.

By 1960 ICBM bases were scattered from north of Moscow along a great arc dipping through the southern Soviet heartland and curving up to the northern Pacific coast. From these bases missiles can be launched over the top of the world or across the Pacific at the United States. They also could hit Australia. There were 22 IRBM bases most heavily concentrated in western Russia and the northwest Siberian coast, from which Russia could strike at Great Brltain, all of Western Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. The remaining eight deployed in the Far East are tailored to strike not only at Alaska, Japan, Okinawa, and Formosa - but also at Red China. Bases at Omsk which has 3,000-mile ICBM's and Irkutsk are believed to be zeroed in on Peiping and other targets in Red China in obvious preparation for keeping Russia's restless Communist neighbors in line.

Pavel Podvig reported that "In the 1990 START exchange data, Russia declared four Topol missile regiments in the Irkutsk division. Since then, one of the regiments have beed disbanded - at the base of the 345th missile regiment (52.57028, 104.80889, V\H 40883, 4th Polk / Regiment) all shelters had been removed by mid-2007.... Of the three remaining regiments, two appear to be active - the 344th missile regiment (52.66944, 104.51972, V\H 52933, 2nd Polk / Regiment) and the 586th missile regiment (52.55167, 104.15861, V\H 52009, 3rd Polk / Regiment). Their shelters are intact and no construction activity is seen on the site. All indications are that these regiments still operate SS-25/Topol missiles. The 92nd missile regiment (52.50861, 104.39333, V\H 48409, 1st Polk / Regiment) is quite different. The shelters there are last seen fully intact on the 9//7/2010 image and by 9/15/2012 all shelters are gone."

The Irkutsk guards missile compound was the first to receive new RS-26 Rubezh / Frontier / Vanguard - KY-26 / SS-X-31 solid-fuel ballistic missiles. The Rubezh intercontinental ballistic missile was created on the basis of the Yars RS-24. Flight range up to 11 thousand kilometers. The missile has an advanced missile defense system and four individual thermonuclear warheads with an output of 150-300 kilotons each. Rubezh will be launched only from mobile complexes, there is no silo option.

Russia was said to be preparing to deploy the RS-26 Rubezh system in 2015 in Irkutsk, suggesting that for an intermediate-range missile the target is China. It was reported that the RS-26 was to go into service with the Irkutsk Guards Missile Division in 2015. However, due to several transfers of her tests, the terms of joining combat duty also shifted.

If the Russians were to deploy the RS-26 in Irkutsk, it would be an ICBM because it was tested in excess of 5,500 kilometers. That could not reach the United States. But certainly a deployment in Irkutsk would suggest very clearly that it is aimed at China, and ought to be a concern first and foremost to the Chinese. The RS-26 from just a U.S. point of view is of course the RS-26, every one that is deployed takes a space under the New START limit and takes a space that could be deployed by say an SS-27 or Bulava missile, which actually could reach all of the United States.

The development of systems such as the RS-26 at the seam between the INF Treaty and New START should be of concern to the United States and its allies. Ballistic missiles launched from Russia would obviously have shorter time of flight to targets in Europe than in North America thereby reducing warning time and the opportunities to engage them, which would diminish strategic stability. During the original INF negotiations, Moscow wanted to retain some of its missiles in the East rather than destroy them all, but Washington insisted on a “global double zero” option that would outlaw these weapons irrespective of their location.

A Russian Defense Ministry’s press service statement received by TASS on 31 March 2016 noted that Russia’s Irkutsk missile formation in Siberia will make operational by the end of the year a regiment of the Yars missile system the delivery of which to the formation had begun. "The division has started the rearmament with the new missile system Yars and by the end of the year the formation is to put on combat duty a missile regiment," the press service quoted Commander of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces (RVSN) Sergey Karakayev. The formation will also receive and make operational new drones. "Unmanned aerial vehicles will be supplied to the division within the framework of its rearmament," he said.

Karakayev arrived at the Irkutsk missile formation to monitor a command and staff exercise, during which robotic systems and drones were used to counteract imaginary saboteurs. The robotic systems are designed for reconnaissance in missile divisions’ deployment areas, provision of assistance to the personnel and for guarding and defending missile systems. Overall, more than 4,000 troops and some 400 units of equipment were engaged in the exercise. The RS-24 Yars is Russia’s new intercontinental ballistic missile. It is an improved version of the previous Topol-M. It is known in the West as SS-29. It uses the same 16x16 wheeled chassis as the Topol-M. Externally it looks similar. However it carries an improved, heavier missile. The Yars was developed both as a road-mobile and silo-based system, that would use the same missile. It was first tested in 2007 and was adopted by the Russian Strategic Missile Forces in 2010.

Russia ’s Strategic Missile Commander Sergei Karakaev announced on 29 November 2019 that 150 new intercontinental missile systems RS-24 Yars launcher had been received and is in service. The missile was difficult to intercept by the enemy throughout the flight phase. Karakaev said: "So far, the Russian Strategic Missile Force has received more than 150 missile launchers." He also revealed that about 20 launchers are used each year for new missile systems. By the end of 2019, Irkutsk missile connectors will be fully deployed on the "Yars" missile complex for joint operations.

52°19'30"N 104°22'26"E
Main Supply Base

52°30'23"N 104°23'31"E
Launch Garrison
92nd missile regiment
(52.50861, 104.39333, V\H 48409,
1st Polk / Regiment)

52°40'07"N 104°31'09"E
Launch Garrison

344th missile regiment
(52.66944, 104.51972, V\H 52933,
2nd Polk / Regiment)

52°33'07"N 104°09'28"E
Launch Garrison
586th missile regiment
(52.55167, 104.15861, V\H 52009,
3rd Polk / Regiment)

52°34'13"N 104°48'32"E
Launch Garrison
345th missile regiment
(52.57028, 104.80889, V\H 40883,
4th Polk / Regiment)

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Page last modified: 18-02-2022 19:01:03 ZULU