Russia test-fires intercontinental missile

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia successfully test-fired a Topol intercontinental ballistic missile on Friday as part of checks needed to extend its service life for up to 22 years, Russian media reported.

The Topol was fired from the Plesetsk cosmodrome, nestled among the forests of northern Russia, and successfully hit the test site on Russia’s Pacific peninsula of Kamchatka, 6,000 km (3,700 miles) to the east.

“This launch confirmed the time extension for the Topol group of missiles for up to 22 years,” Itar-Tass news agency quoted Colonel Alexander Vovk of the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces as saying.

Test launches of new missiles have become routine in recent years, and the Kremlin says the financial crisis will not discourage it from spending as much money as needed on defense. The Topol, which entered service in 1985, was last test-fired last October.

Russia has extended the highly mobile Topol’s use way past the 10-year guaranteed operational life set by the manufacturer. It is designed to pierce anti-missile defense systems such as those that the United States has said it wants to build in Eastern Europe.

The RS-12M Topol, called the SS-25 Sickle by NATO, has a maximum range of 10,000 km (6,125 miles) and can carry one 550-kiloton warhead.

(Writing by Amie Ferris-Rotman, editing by Mark Trevelyan)

Russia to test launch ballistic missile

Moscow, April 10 (RIA Novosti) Russia will test launch later Friday a Topol intercontinental ballistic missile from the Plesetsk space centre in northern Russia, a spokesman for the Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) said.

The missile was in active service from 1987 until 2007, and deployed with the 54th Strategic Missile Division near the town of Teikovo, about 240 km northeast of Moscow.

‘The goal of the upcoming launch is to confirm the reliability of the technical characteristics (of Topol missiles) during an extended service period,’ Alexander Vovk said.

The RS-12M Topol, also referred to as SS-25, is a single-warhead intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) approximately the same size and shape as the US Minuteman ICBM. The first Topol missiles were put into service in 1985.

The missile has a maximum range of 10,000 km and can carry a 550-kiloton nuclear warhead.

Although the service life of the SS-25 was extended to 21 years after a series of successful test launches last year, the missile will be progressively retired over the next decade and be replaced by mobile Topol-M (SS-27 Stalin) missile systems.

Russia’s SMF has a total of 541 ICBMs, including 306 Topol missiles and 59 Topol-M missiles.