A joint team from SMF and Space Forces fired an RS-12M (SS-25 Sickle) ICBM at 14.36 Moscow time (10.36 GMT) from the Plesetsk space center in a launch that tested not only the performance characteristics of the missile but also the capabilities of a new warhead to penetrate strong missile defenses.
"An experimental warhead hit a target at a testing range on the Kamchatka peninsula with high precision, demonstrating its capability to deliver pinpoint strikes on well-defended targets," Col. Alexander Vovk said.
The missile, whose service life was extended to 21 years last year, covered a distance of about 6,000 kilometers (over 3,700 miles) before it hit the target.
"The performance data gathered during the test launch will be used to increase the effectiveness of future Russian mobile ballistic missile units," Vovk said, adding that the Topol ICBM remains the core of the Russian mobile strategic missile forces.
Russia has been enhancing the performance characteristics of its ballistic missiles in response to U.S. plans to place a missile-defense shield in central Europe near Russian borders.
Vovk said that judging from experience the most economical and quickly achievable countermeasures against the deployment of missile-defense systems are the so-called asymmetrical measures.
"These measures include enhanced "stealth" capability, a variability of flight trajectory and the use of warheads capable of penetrating any missile shield," he said.
The RS-12M Topol has a maximum range of 10,000 km (6,125 miles) and can carry a single
550-kiloton nuclear warhead.
The missile was last tested on December 8, 2007.
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