Strategic forces to be equipped with Yars nuclear missile system

The Yars land-based mobile missile system is transported to its field combat duty site at the Teykovo Guards Missile Division. Source: Vadim Savitsky / RIA Novosti

The Yars land-based mobile missile system is transported to its field combat duty site at the Teykovo Guards Missile Division. Source: Vadim Savitsky / RIA Novosti

The combat effectiveness of Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces is being enhanced by the addition of new nuclear weapon systems for stationary and mobile deployment. A number of divisions have already introduced the Yars missile units, which will gradually phase out the older Topol systems.

The commander of Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) has announced that its regiments and divisions are to be upgraded with new Yars nuclear weapon systems for stationary and mobile deployment.

"As part of creating a capable group, it is planned to place 16 missile launch sites armed with the Yars missile on operational duty," said General Sergei Karakayev at a session of the SMF’s military council on Nov. 14.

This formidable technology is produced in two versions – mobile and stationary. Depending on the location of the unit and their operating zone, missiles can ‘serve’ based either in silos or from railway tracks. In the latter case, they can be controlled from a mobile command post.

Strike force

The Ministry of Defense has made it clear that the Yars, alongside the Topol-M, will serve as the SMFs main strike force for the next decades. The missiles not only increase its military capabilities but strengthen the potential deterrence of Russia’s strategic triad. Furthermore, the Yars will replace several divisions of the reliable but outdated Topol nuclear missile system.

According to SMF Commander Sergei Karakayev, the START 3 agreement places no restrictions on upgrading existing weapons and the creation of new weapons, and new developments in the interests of the Strategic Missile Forces take the requirements of the agreement into account.

The Teykovskoye command has already switched to the mobile Yars, and the mobile ground units are now being provided to the Tagilsk and Novosibirsk divisions. The Kozelsk division will shortly introduce a Yars missile system consisting of four silo launchers and a unified command post into operational duty in its missile regiment.

The Yars system was developed based on the Topol but is much more powerful. Its missile, the RS-24, is superior in throw-weight to the Topol’s RS-12 by more than 20 percent. Although the Yars carries not one warhead but three to four, the designers have succeeded in keeping the strategic missile’s range to greater than 6,200 miles. It uses a three-stage system.

Its body and instrument compartment have been treated with a coating that reduces the impact of various damaging factors, including a nuclear explosion. Furthermore, on launch, the missile can carry out a programmed manoeuver. This helps it make a relatively safe passage through a nuclear cloud should an enemy attack the Yars’ position with a ballistic missile.

According to experts, the breakthrough technological solutions used in creating the RS-24 guarantee the high survivability of the missile when overcoming any missile defense systems. The strategic Yars does not need to fear even layered missile defense systems, including ones based in space.

The Sarmatians are coming

The operational strength of the SMF is now 400 strategic missile launchers with intercontinental ballistic missiles. Since their numbers are limited by Russia’s international obligations, the development of the land-based component of its nuclear triad is focused on two areas: Firstly, the modernization of silo-based and mobile missile systems already in use; secondly, the development of a new strategic arsenal.

According to military sources, the SMF will receive a qualitatively new weapon in 2018-2020. They probably have in mind the stationary Sarmat (‘Sarmatian’) with a heavy intercontinental ballistic missile.

Experimental design work on this project is being carried out by a group of industrial enterprises under the direction of the Makeyev Rocket Design Bureau. They plan to complete the work in five to six years. According to the former chief of the General Staff of the SMF Viktor Yesin, the Sarmat will replace the RS-20V Voevoda, which is currently on operational duty.

The former head of the 4th Central Research Institute of the Ministry of Defense, General Vladimir Vasilenko believes that the new heavy intercontinental ballistic silo-based missile will possess the capacity to deliver warheads to targets using not only energetically optimal trajectories with direct approach bearings, but also strikes from various directions, including via the South Pole. 

Read more: Topol missile test launch “routine” and in accordance with agreements>>>

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