Russian Strategic Rocket Forces

RS-24 or Yars

The new ICBMs include the SS-27 Mods 1 and 2 (Topol-M and RS-24). The SS-27 Mod 1 is a single warhead missile, known in Russia as Topol-M, that comes in either mobile (RS-12M1) or silo-based (RS- 12M2) variants. Deployment of the SS-27 Mod 1 was completed in 2012 with a total of 78 missiles: 60 silobased missiles with the 60th Missile Division in Tatishchevo, and 18 road-mobile missiles with the 54th Guards Missile Division at Teykovo.

The focus of the current phase of Russia’s modernization is the SS-27 Mod 2, known in Russia as the RS-24 or Yars, which is a modified SS-27 Mod 1 (Topol-M) that carries up to four multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs). Following initial deployment in 2010-2012 of the first 18 missiles in two regiments with the 54th Guards Missile Division at Teykovo, deployment of the mobile SS-27 Mod 2 version is now well underway at the Novosibirsk and Tagil divisions, where the first regiments went on experimental combat duty in 2013-2014. Tagil now seems to have two operational SS-27 Mod 2 regiments and Novosibirsk one with a second under construction, while an upgrade to the first garrison has recently started at Irkutsk. An upgrade at Yoshkar-Ola is expected to begin in 2017. Finally, installation of the silo-based version of the SS-27 Mod 2 is well underway at the Kozelsk division, where the first regiment is operational and an upgrade to a second has begun.

Statements by Russian officials about the operational status of the SS-27 Mod 2 at the various divisions appear to be optimistic, and do not entirely correspond to what we observe in satellite photos. For example, after the first regiment was placed on experimental combat duty at Novosibirsk in late 2013, the Russian plan was for a second regiment to follow by the end of 2014 (TASS 2014). But as of January 2017, there was still only one upgraded regiment at Novosibirsk, with the second being in the very early stages of construction. A third regiment still appears to be armed with the old SS-25. Likewise, the Russian Ministry of Defense reported in December 2016 that the SS-27 Mod 2 had entered service at Yoshkar-Ola (Russian Federation Defense Ministry 2016a), but none of the known garrisons showed signs of having been upgraded yet.

In our 2016 FAS Nuclear Notebook on Russian nuclear forces, we estimated that Russia deployed 63 mobile and 10 silo-based SS-27 Mod 2s for a total of 73 (Kristensen and Norris 2016). Russian officials said the Strategic Rocket Forces received another 23 missiles during 2016 (TV Zvezda 2016b), which would bring the total to 96 SS-27 Mod 2s. But satellite photos at the end of 2016 only showed fully upgraded garrisons for 45 mobile launchers (two at Teykovo, two at Targil, and one at Novosibirsk), and perhaps 12 Kozelsk silos, for a total of 57 deployed missiles. The discrepancy might hinge on the number of launchers for the second Novosibirsk regiment, the first Irkutsk regiment, the first Yoshkar-Ola regiment, and the remaining missiles for the second regiment at Kozelsk, which may have been delivered to the Strategic Rocket Forces for integration but not yet fully deployed in the garrisons.

Russian officials have also described development of a compact version of the SS-27 Mod 2, known as YarsM or RS-26. The 29th Guards Missile Division at Irkutsk was supposed to be the first to be equipped with the RS-26, but deployment has been delayed. A scheduled flight test in 2016 was also delayed. The 7th Guards Missile Division at Vypolzovo was also rumored as a potential location for the RS-26, but officials now talk about the upgrades at Irkutsk and Vypolzovo involving Yars, which presumably refers to the original, non-compact SS-27 Mod 2.

Russian defense officials have stated that a rail-based version of the SS-27 Mod 2, known in Russia as Barguzin, is in early design development. A writer for Jane’s Defence Weekly speculated in early 2016 that the program might have been delayed or even canceled due to Russia’s financial crisis (Novichkov 2016), but Interfax reported an ejection test in November 2016 and the first flight is said to be planned for 2017 (Interfax 2016).

Missile Defense Project, “Missiles of Russia,” Missile Threat, Center for Strategic and International Studies, published June 14, 2018, last modified June 15, 2018, https://missilethreat.csis.org/country/russia/.

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