Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Russian missile-test salvo

On Saturday I posted that Russia plans to conduct five more ICBM launches this year. The first of these announced tests was conducted on Monday. A RS-18 (SS-19 Stiletto) missile was successfully launched from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan and its simulated warhead has reached the Kura testing site on the Kamchatka peninsula. The RS-18 missiles are in operation since 29 years. Due to the successful test their service life will be extend by two years. Two previous tests launches were conducted on November 9, 2006 and October 20, 2005.

Russia began manufacturing the silo-based RS-18 missiles in the 1970s. Each missile carries six 550-kiloton warheads and has a launch-weight of 105 tons. As usual, the numbers on how many missiles of this type are in service are varying, they range from 160 over 123 to over 100.

A small follow-up occurred on the next day: Russia tested on October 30 an interceptor missile of its Moscow missile defense system. The purpose of this launch was also to test the performance characteristics and extend the service life of the interceptor. It was already the 43rd launch of this type of missile.

The next short-range missile tests are already scheduled. The NTI Newswire reports:

Russia announced Thursday that it plans to flight-test two Tochka ballistic missiles between Nov. 13 and 17 from a site in southern Russia, RIA Novosti reported (see GSN, Oct. 18).

Also called the SS-21 Scarab, the short-range, single-warhead missile can be fired from a mobile launcher to hit targets within 45 miles. Russia has maintained the weapon in its arsenal since 1976, but it ultimately is to be replaced by the multiple-warhead Iskander-M missile.

“The missile units will conduct missile firing practices (at the Kapustin Yar testing site in the Astrakhan Region) and will test launch two Tochka tactical missiles,” said Col. Igor Konashenkov.The Russian Ground Forces successfully tested 12 Tochka missiles in 2007, Konashenkov said, noting that the November launches would be carried out by a Siberian missile brigade.

©RIA Novosti

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