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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

RS-24 / SS-29 / Yars-M

The RS-24 Yars (SS-29), introduced into service in July 2010, is an upgraded version of the Topol-M ballistic missile. The ballistic missile can carry multiple independently targetable nuclear warheads, and is designed to evade missile defense systems up to a range of 7,500 miles.

The Russian strategic missile troops would place 16 Yars intercontinental ballistic missile launchers into service in 2014, the troops’ commander Sergey Karakayev said on 14 November 2014. The general said in October 2014 that the troops had received nine launchers, six ballistic missiles for mobile Yars systems and two for stationary systems in 2014 and expected to receive three launchers and eight missiles more until the end of the year. Three regiments were planned to have Yars systems in service by the end of the year.

Analysis By Charles P. Vick, Senior Analyst,


The RS-24 is a new-generation 10,000 kilometer range intercontinental ballistic missile, which is equipped with three and or four multiple independently target able reentry vehicle (MIRV) warhead configurations. The RS-24 ICBM is expected to greatly strengthen the Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) [RVSN] strike capability with its 20% greater throw-weight capability over previous missiles designs, as well as that of its allies until the mid-21st century. The RS-24 missile will be deployed both in silos and on semi-mobile platforms and together with the Topol-M single-warhead ICBM will constitute the core of Russia's SMF in the future. By 2020 the Russian strategic Missile Forces (RVSN) expect to have 170 Topol-M’s with 108 RS-24’s in service both in Silo’s and semi-mobile configuration in addition to 30 silo based SS-19’s. All SS-18’s ICBM’s are expected to be replaced by the new in R&D follow-on SS--X? Sarmatian heavy liquid propellant, multiple warheads MIRV’ed ICBM by 2026. Russia's State Rocket Center V. P. Makeyev of (Miass) and NGO's Engineering (Reutov) along with NPO Mashinostroyeniyais is developing the new Sarmatian ICBM.

The RS-24 / SS-29, called Yars-M has also been called Avangard is a highly refined heavier SS-27 Topol-M with a new fourth BUS/PBV, MIRV'ed stage. It is known to have been developed by the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technologies. It is believed to have been developed with lighter highly refined filament wound solid motor casings and exhaust nozzles with extensions deployed in flight. The three stage solid motors are believed to utilize faster burning more energetic solid propellants over the older Soviet era solid propellant formulas previously deployed.

Though open press information suggests it to be capable of carrying 10 RV's it is in fact only capable of carrying single and 3 and 4 warhead package designs. The RS-24 has been deployed operationally with three or four warheads composed of 1,500 kilogram greater payload capacity than the 11,000 km range Topol-M, SS-27 {NATO Stalin] series with its single 1,000-1,200 kilogram warhead mass. Early field deployment of strategic ballistic missile is the standard Soviet/Russian practice to ring out the system as it is also being flight tested. This is in fact the case for the RS-24 Yars that is now deployed in the Tagil and Novosibirsk divisions of the RVSN.

RS-24 underwent its first launch on September 27, 2011 from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome totally failing soon after launch impacting on the range. The second and first successful launch from the Plesetsk range with a single warhead took place May 23, 2012. The missile was then subjected to semi-field deployment for its second successful flight from the Kapustin Yar Cosmodrome range with a single warhead on October 24, 2012 completing its third flight test. On June 6, 2013 it was launch a fourth time from the Kapustin Yar Cosmodrome range with multiple warheads in its operational MIRV configuration on a full range flight test with "All the warheads hit the designated areas at the Kura testing grounds on the Kamchatka Peninsula. It was again flight tested a fifth time from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome on April 16, 2014 impacting its multiple warheads on the Kura test range in the Kamchatka Peninsula units of the RS-24 were sent to the Russian Strategic Missile Forces (RVSN) for early field deployment operations combat duty as early as February 2012.

All of these flight test were of the actual final design operational system to be deployed. Previous flights associated with the RS-24 program tested newer technology utilized existing Topol-M, SS-27 class hardware for prototype testing demonstration proof of principal to meet State requirements. These technology demonstration flight tests took place on May 29, 2007, November 26, 2007 and December 25, 2007 and were some years separated from the actual operational systems flight testing. It directly reflects the time that was required by the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technologies to do the R&D for the final operational system by the Russian Federation Missile industry.

Having completed it fourth experimental operational development flight test with three successes in a row the new semi-mobile MIRV’ed, ICBM was approved for field regimental operational experimental deployment with the Russian Federation, Strategic Missile Forces (RVSN) entering service in the last quarter of 2013 along with those already on combat duty from early in 2012 some years after its forecasted deployment. Further operational flight testing from the deployed missiles is expected in and 2014.

Previous reportage is as follows:

Nikolai Solovtsov, Russia's Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) commander said the new-generation RS-24 multiple-warhead missile system will enter service with the RVSN in 2009 said on Wednesday. "We have carried out a series of successful ground and flight tests of the RS-24 missile. The new ICBM system will be put in service in 2009," he said. Solovtsov said the new system would "strengthen Russia's nuclear deterrence," including its capability to penetrate missile defense shields, and will serve to counter elements of a U.S. missile defense system deployed in Central Europe.

The RS-24 was first tested on May 29, 2007 after a secret military R&D project, and then again on December 25, 2007. On 26 November 2008 Russia successfully test launched a new-generation intercontinental ballistic missile bearing multiple independently target able reentry vehicle (MIRV) warheads. "All the warheads hit the designated areas at the Kura testing grounds on the Kamchatka peninsula. All the tasks in the test have been accomplished," a spokesman for the Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) press service said. The RS-24 missile was launched at 4:20 p.m. Moscow time (13:20 GMT) from the Plesetsk space center in northwest Russia. The new test was aimed at obtaining data confirming the missile's technical characteristics and its readiness to enter service with the SMF.

A Highly Modified Topol-M/SS-27

Analysis By Charles P. Vick, Senior Analyst,



On 29 May 2007 Russia conducted the first reported test of the new RS-24 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with multiple independently targeted reentry vehicles (MIRV). A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said "the prototype of the new ICBM, RS-24 with multiple independently targeted reentry vehicles was launched at 2:20 p.m. [Moscow time, 10:20 GMT] from a mobile launcher remodeled to test the new ICBM from the Plesetsk test cosmodrome". "The test launch of the RS-24 (ICBM) occurred at 14:20 Moscow time (1:20 GMT) at Plesetsk and at the designated time the warheads struck the assigned region at the Kura base on Kamchatka," a spokesman for Russia 's Strategic Rocket Forces told the news agency Interfax.

The RS-24 missile can be armed with up to 10 warheads, the Defense Ministry told Interfax. Six war heads are carried by the SS-19 Stiletto while 10 warheads are carried by the SS-18 Satan. The spokesman said the RS-24 will replace ICBMs of the previous generations RS-18 (SS-19 Stiletto) and RS-20 (SS-18 Satan) capable of carrying six and ten warheads respectively. It can also be expected to replace the aged 10 warhead SS-24, Scalpel. It was further stated by the Strategic Rocket Forces spokesman that “It is a genuine new missile but it uses technologies of the Topol-M,” according to AFP. This is in order to penetrate any existing anti-ballistic missile system.

Confusing Information Considerations

Later First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov a former Russian defense minister stated that “the missile was a new version of the Topol-M, first commissioned in 1997 and known as the SS-25, & SS-27 in the West, but one that can carry multiple independent warheads,” ITAR-TASS is quoted as saying. It is said to be compliant with the START-1 treaty and the Moscow Treaty of 2002 requirements.

The latter attributed statement by First deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov has tended to confuse the RS-24's warhead carrying capacity issue. That is because if the RS-24 is indeed a highly modified version of the Topol-M, SS-27 then its potential warhead capacity would only be 3 or 4 warheads. However if it indeed there were 10 warheads tends to suggest that the missile is a new improved Russian produces RS-22, SS-24 SCALPEL ICBM. Prior to this flight test of the full RS-24 system Russia had done at least two research and development flight test in 2005 – 2006 using the older Topol-M derivation for MIRV development. Russia’s military had announced that it intended to produce an ICBM carrying multiple warheads, based on the single warhead Topol-M missile when the US withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty during 2002. This was the first flight test of the full up completely revised RS-24 launch vehicle that greatly increases the booster stages payload capacity in order to carry a multiple warhead package to full range.

The Means of Accomplishing the Task

This could be accomplished for the Topol-M variation if the Moscow Institute of Heat Engineering (MIT) State Enterprise design bureau was to adapt revised versions of the existing Start-1 and Start satellite launch vehicles upper stages to accommodate a larger payload throw weigh capacity that was 1.2 tons for a single warhead. This mass would have to be raised to at least 1.215-1.62 or 3.6 tons to 4.8/4.05 tons for three or four or up to ten warheads suggested throw weight over 10,000-10,500 kilometers range. That is the warhead mass would be 1.2 tons or less based on the SS-27 and SS-24 designs experience. To accommodate the silo requirements and launch canister modifications the 10 warhead Topol-M would require the warheads to be stacked vertically in groups of four and four and topped by two more or three on three on three and one on top with deployment sideways for most of the warheads during the MIRV in plain maneuvering dispenser operations. This becomes quite a trick to stay with the treaty permitted modification both in diameter and length requirements for the launch canister and silo deployment. This is why the chosen warhead mass details are so critical to analyzing the design changes depending on the actual missile chosen and modified by the Russians. If the Topol-M is indeed the highly modified vehicle then its second, third and potential fourth stages would have to have been redesigned to a larger diameter to accommodate the mass and performance loads requirements. Presumably a cylindrical shroud encased hammerhead shaped warhead packet configuration is not inconceivable. This would probably make it greatly resemble the Minuteman-III, IV design characteristics known as the SS-X-27 with a bulbous front section nose warhead packet. In the absence of imagery brings this into question among the many questions remaining open on this new weapon development.

New Analysis

The considerable lengthening of the RS-27 length is totally unavoidable. When Prime Minister Putin demanded that the Ministry of Defense display the RS-24 in Moscow Square he was disappointingly informed because of it very long length it would be impossible to display it and that he would have to accept the SS-25 and SS-29 display. Ultimately the war head sizes had to be reduced to the size of the Bulava/Kalibr warheads to be fitted on the RS-24 design.

Prior to the announcement of this test, the RS-24 ICBM was not previously tested. The "RS" designation system is used in the bilateral START arms control agreements, and internal Russian or the US and NATO designations of this missile were not immediately apparent.

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