Russian Strategic Rocket Force unveiled the long-awaited “missile of the 21st century” to President Putin on Thursday. Commander in Chief gave his personal blessing to a maiden combat alert duty of the Topol-M missile complex, an advanced version of the silo-based and mobile Topol intercontinental ballistic missile. The first Topol-M mobile missile systems were put on combat duty on a location in the dense forests of Ivanono region, northeast of Moscow. The new Topol-M is officially designed a land-based mobile missile system i.e. the missile can be accommodated both on self-propelled launchers as well in silos.
High survivability of the mobile complex is achieved by the capability of off-road movement, comprising of continuous change in location and of a missile launch from any point along the movement route. There is no ICBM system similar to the Russian Topol-M in the West at the moment. Unlike a number of other Russian silo-based ICBMs, which must be an open secret to Russia’s potential enemies in terms of location, the new missile is considered virtually undetectable. President Putin was apparently impressed as he watched the crews expertly placing the missile systems in operational readiness. From a distance, three Topol-M missile systems looked like haystacks sitting near the edge of a forest. In actuality, the haystacks comprised 120-ton mobile launchers with full crews and a command post hidden under the camouflage net.
According to Lieutenant General Nikolai Solovtsev, Commander of Russia’s Strategic Rocket Force, it takes just a few minutes to put the new missile complex on alert. Reporters accompanying the Russian president could see the proof in a combat readiness exercise that followed. President Putin liked what he saw during the exercise. He was particularly pleased to point out that the missile troops had kept their promise. “Back in 2004 the military promised to put the Topol-M on an alert footing in 2007. I’d like to take the opportunity and compliment you on being as good as your word,” said President Putin. In his turn, Lieutenant General Solovtsev boasted that all components of the new missile were Russian-made. Speaking to Komsomolskaya Pravda, a source with the Russian Strategic Force, said that a number of important parts for the older Topol missiles had been previously manufactured by Ukraine. The country has been politically unpredictable over the last several years, to put it mildly. Now that the independence of the Russian missile shield has been restored, the new Russian missile system Topol-M should effectively remind of Russia’s nuclear capability to all of the nation’s ill-wishers.
On the outside, the Topol-M looks like its predecessor, the Topol ICBM system. In fact, both versions of the missile system look like identical twins. The devil is in the “stuffing” of the new missile. Although deployed with a single warhead, the Topol-M could easily be converted into a multiple-warhead missile depending on operational objectives. The new Topol-M reportedly takes several days to beat the enemy’s new antimissile defense system. Needless to say, the technique is a top military secret. It is rumored that the missile has a maneuverable warhead, to deceive antimissile defense system.
The missile’s warhead is also reportedly equipped with active deception jamming systems. The missile carries a single warhead but has a high throw weight: about 1,200 kg. This enables the new Topol-M missile to be tranformed in 24-hour period into a missile with multiple reentry vehicles carrying up to 7 warheads. The Topol-M has three stages, with the first stage having three solid-rocket motors, which were modernized to enable the missile to have a much higher acceleration and decrease ist transit time. Morever, the Russian Strategic Rocket Force already carried out several test flights of the Topol-M missile using hypersonic ramjet engines. Presently no Western ICBM system has anything similar to that type of an rocket engine.
Some specs for the Russian Topol-M ICBM system
Maximum range: 10,000 kilometers
Number of stages: 3
Weight: 47.1 tons
Throw weight: 1.2 tons
Length with fitted warhead: 22.7 meters
Warhead explosive force: 1 megaton
The missile system can be based on self-propelled launchers and in silos.
Translated by Guerman Grachev