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Russia confirms replacement of all old Topol ICBM Missiles with new RS-24 Yars.

| 2023

Russia's Strategic Missile Force is advancing its capabilities in line with its 2023 objectives, as stated by the Russian Commander, Colonel General Sergey Karakayev, in a recent briefing with journalists. The old Topol / Topol-M ICBMs (InterContinental Ballistic Missiles) are now replaced by the RS-24 Yars able to launch Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle.
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The load of silo-based RS-24 Yars ICBM InterContinental Ballistic Missile System. (Picture source Russian MoD)

Russian General Karakayev emphasized that the Russian Strategic Missile Force is actively expanding its grouping, consistent with the tasks set for 2023. He proudly announced the completion of all scheduled combat training exercises for the year. "The missile troops have entirely fulfilled their drills and exercises with the highest degree of combat readiness. We have generally accomplished our goals for this year," he explained. Notably, by the end of the year, the proportion of modern weapons in the arsenal is expected to reach 88%. Plans for the upcoming year are already in place, and the force is prepared to commence their implementation.

A significant development this year is the completion of the deployment of another missile regiment equipped with the Avangard system, featuring a gliding re-entry vehicle, to the Dombarovsky missile formation in the Orenburg Region.

The Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle is a cutting-edge military technology developed by Russia, designed to deliver payloads at hypersonic speeds. Its development marks a significant advancement in strategic weapons technology, primarily due to its unique characteristics.

One of the most notable features of the Avangard is its ability to travel at hypersonic speeds, which are defined as speeds greater than Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound. This extreme speed is a critical factor in its operational capability, as it makes the Avangard extremely difficult to intercept by conventional missile defense systems.

Unlike traditional ballistic missiles that follow a predictable parabolic trajectory, the Avangard operates differently. It is launched atop an InterContinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), but once it reaches the upper atmosphere, it separates from its carrier and operates as a glide vehicle. This means it can maneuver mid-flight at high speeds, making its trajectory unpredictable and enabling it to evade missile defense systems more effectively.

The Avangard's maneuverability is another crucial aspect. It can perform intricate maneuvers in the atmosphere, which not only makes interception difficult but also allows it to strike targets with high precision. This ability to change course and altitude at hypersonic speeds complicates the task of tracking and predicting its final target, enhancing its effectiveness as a strategic weapon.

Furthermore, Karakayev highlighted the progress with the RS-24 Yars mobile ground-based ICBMs (InterContinental Ballistic Missile Systems). "This year, a regiment in the Bologovskoye missile formation has been put on combat alert duty, marking the end of rearming the Topol group. The Topol / Topol-M missiles complex are now a part of history," he stated. In addition, the silo-based group has seen an increase in the number of missile complexes in the Kozelsky formation in the Kaluga Region, enhancing their combat readiness.

The RS-24 Yars is a sophisticated intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in the arsenal of Russia's strategic nuclear forces, boasting advanced capabilities that enhance its effectiveness as a deterrent. One of the most significant aspects of the RS-24 Yars is its operational range. It is capable of striking targets at a distance of up to 12,000 kilometers (approximately 7,500 miles), a range that allows it to reach virtually any point on the globe from its launch site in Russia. This extended range places it among the longest-range missiles in the world, enabling Russia to project its strategic power far beyond its borders.

In addition to its impressive range, the RS-24 Yars is also notable for its payload capacity. It is equipped with a MIRV (Multiple Independently targetable Reentry Vehicle) system, enabling it to carry several nuclear warheads on a single missile. Each of these warheads can be independently targeted, which significantly multiplies the missile's potential destructive power. The exact number of warheads each RS-24 can carry varies, but reports suggest it can be equipped with up to 4 to 6 nuclear warheads, depending on the configuration. This multi-warhead capability, combined with the missile's long-range and advanced countermeasures designed to evade missile defense systems, makes the RS-24 Yars a formidable element of Russia's strategic nuclear force.

These developments underscore Russia's ongoing efforts to modernize and strengthen its strategic missile capabilities, reflecting a significant stride in its military advancement.

Defense News December 2023

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