Navy Launches New Strategic Missiles
Published: October 14, 2008 (Issue # 1416)
Dmitry Astakhov / Reuters
President Dmitry Medvedev stands in front of a missile launcher at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome on Sunday.
PLESETSK COSMODROME, Arkhangelsk Region — President Dmitry Medvedev was on hand for the test firing of two different strategic missiles over the weekend in the Northwest Federal District, where he vowed to commission a new generation of weapons for the armed forces.
Medvedev watched the firing of a truck-mounted intercontinental Topol missile Sunday morning from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome. Half an hour later it hit the Kura testing site, 6,000 kilometers away on the Kamchatka Peninsula.
“I have just been told that the dummy warhead has landed in Kura,” he said from the Topol launch pad.
“We will continue to commission new types of weapons but we will also continue testing the ones we have now,” said Medvedev. “Their effectiveness has been proved by time. Our shield is fine.”
Russian nuclear submarines also successfully test fired two ballistic missiles from the Pacific Ocean and Barents Sea on Sunday at targets inside the country, the Navy said.
Dressed in the army’s new-style leather jacket — with a badge saying commander-in-chief — Medvedev inspected the 21.5 meter Topol rocket before the launch.
The rocket is designed to pierce anti-missile defense systems, such as those that the United States wants to build in Eastern Europe. The Kremlin has opposed Washington’s plans.
“This missile and others which will be commissioned in the next few years are capable of effectively providing the nuclear deterrent and ensuring the security of Russia and its allies,” Colonel-General Nikolai Solovtsov, commander of the Strategic Missile Forces, told Medvedev.
The Topol, a highly mobile missile designed in Soviet times, is a key part of Russia’s nuclear deterrent. The RS-12M Topol, called the SS-25 Sickle by NATO, has a maximum range of 10,000 kilometers.
Medvedev was also on hand Saturday for the test launch of the country’s newest strategic missile, the Sineva, which reached the equatorial part of the Pacific Ocean later that day.
After watching the launch from the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, Medvedev said problems caused by the global financial turmoil would not impede Russian plans to revive its armed forces.
The Sineva missile was launched by the nuclear-powered submarine Tula from an underwater position in the Arctic Barents Sea, and hit an unspecified area near the equator in the Pacific Ocean, a Navy spokesman said.
“For the first time in the history of the Russian Navy the target of the missile was in an equatorial part of the Pacific Ocean rather than the Kura testing ground on the Kamchatka Peninsula,” he said.
Television news programs showed the missile emerging from the icy waters of the Arctic Barents Sea for the 11,547-kilometer journey to the Pacific.
“Not one missile of this class has ever flown so far,” Medvedev told sailors.
The spokesman did not specify the area where the missile landed. He said the area was closed for navigation and flights ahead of the test, in accordance with international rules.
On Saturday, Medvedev said the country would start building aircraft carriers, a type of vessel once derided by the Soviet military as an instrument of imperialism unbecoming of Moscow’s defensive military posture.
He said Russia should “not scrimp” on its armed forces and called for government spending to improve living conditions for its armed forces as well as new weapons systems.