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Thread: Ballistic or demi-ballistic missiles, some posing as Nukes

  1. #1

    Ballistic or demi-ballistic missiles, some posing as Nukes

    Pakistan Test-Fires Medium-Range Ballistic Missile

    Nov. 28, 2012 - 03:58PM

    By Usman Ansari

    Pakistan conducted a training launch Nov. 28 of the Ghauri/Hatf V medium-range ballistic missile at an undisclosed location. (ISPR)

    ISLAMABAD — Pakistan test-fired its Ghauri/Hatf-V (Vengeance V) medium-range ballistic missile Nov. 28, a liquid-fueled missile that some observers say is not well-suited to Pakistan’s needs.

    According to the military’s Inter Service Public Relations (ISPR) media branch, the Ghauri/Hatf-V was test-fired “by a Strategic Missile Group of the Army Strategic Force Command on the culmination of a field training exercise that was aimed at testing the operational readiness of the Army Strategic Force Command.”

    The test was monitored at the National Command Center by the National Command Authority’s fully automated Strategic Command and Control Support System (SCCSS).

    “The SCCSS enables robust command and control capability of all strategic assets, with round-the-clock situational awareness in a digitized, network-centric environment to decision-makers at the National Command Centre,” the ISRP said.

    Analysts claim the Ghauri, with a range of 1,300 kilometers, is based on the North Korean Nodong-1 ballistic missile, but it is not Pakistan’s most capable delivery asset. They doubt its continuing suitability for Pakistan’s needs.

    Mansoor Ahmed, a lecturer in the Department of Defence and Strategic Studies at Quaid-e-Azam University here, said the Ghauri is not a particularly effective weapon or suited to Pakistan’s operational requirement.

    “Unlike solid-fueled missiles, liquid-fueled ballistic missiles cannot store the fuel for long periods and have to be refueled prior to launch, which takes several hours, thus making them vulnerable to first strikes,” said Ahmed, an expert on Pakistan’s nuclear program and its delivery systems. “Given the relative lack of Pakistan’s strategic depth, such systems are not the first choice in missile systems for nuclear warhead delivery, which explains why the Ghauri remains the only liquid-fueled system in its missile inventory.”

    Ahmed said he agrees the launch was more a test of the readiness of the Army Strategic Force Command and the SCCSS than of the missile itself.

    He also highlighted the missile’s checkered history.

    Despite being announced as a success, the first test of the missile on April 6, 1998, was a failure, with the missile burning up on re-entry. It had to be heavily redesigned and improved by the National Engineering and Scientific Commission, and the National Defense Complex, before it could enter service again.

    “However, the missile’s range has remained constant at 1,300 kilometers over the years, indicating that Pakistan has only one Ghauri system with eight other solid-fueled missile systems,” Ahmed said. “Moreover, a solid-fueled alternate system in the form of Shaheen-1A was recently tested.”

    But the Ghauri is cheaper than solid-fueled missiles, and therefore more expendable when testing launch and control systems, Ahmed said, and it may offer Pakistan a “possible springboard for a space launch vehicle,” akin to the British Blue Streak ballistic missile.

  2. #2

    Prithvi missiles to be replaced by more-capable Prahar: DRDO


    A surface-to-surface ballistic missile Prithvi II. File Photo courtesy: DRDO

    New Delhi, Jun 30: Seeking to enhance its precision strike capabilities, India is planning to replace its 150 km-range Prithvi ballistic missiles with the newly developed quick reaction Prahar missiles.

    “We are withdrawing the tactical 150 km-range Prithvi missiles and will replace them with the Prahar missiles, which are more capable and have more accuracy,” DRDO chief Avinash Chander told PTI here.

    The tactical versions of the Prithvi missiles would be withdrawn from service and will be upgraded to be used for longer ranges, he said.

    The DRDO Chief said after the withdrawal of the tactical ballistic missiles from service, there would be a gap in strike capabilities in the range of 100 to 150 km-range.

    “The Prahar missile would be used to fill up that gap,” he said.

    The 150 km-range ‘Prahar’ is a single-stage missile and is fuelled by solid propellants. It was first test-fired by DRDO in mid-2011 from its range in Odisha.

    The uniqueness of the missile system is that it can be fired in the salvo mode also from one launcher vehicle in which four missiles can be fired in one go.

    This short-range missile would be an ‘excellent weapon’ which would fill the gap between the 90 km-range of the Smerch multi-barrel rocket launchers and guided missiles like ’Prithvi’, which can strike at 250 km to 350 km range.

    The under-development Prahar missile would be offered to the Army for user trials very soon and after its acceptance, it is planned to be part of its Corps of Artillery.

    The Prithvi missiles were developed by India under its Integrated Missile Development Programme in the 1980s. The ballistic missile was developed with multiple strike ranges from 150 km to 350 km.

    The longer ranges are planned to be in service with both the Army and the IAF.

    (This article was published on June 30, 2013)

  3. #3

    Saudis target Iran and Israel at missile base

    DateJuly 11, 2013 - 11:28AM

    Image showing two circular launch pads, #1 pointing in direction of Israel, and #2 pointing in direction of Iran. Photo: Jane's/DigitalGlobe

    Saudi Arabia is targeting Israel and Iran with powerful ballistic missiles, new satellite photography suggests.

    Images analysed by experts at IHS Jane's Intelligence Review have revealed a hitherto undisclosed surface-to-surface missile base deep in the Saudi desert, capable of hitting both countries.

    The Chinese-made missiles are not remotely guided and have to be aimed at their target before firing.

    The analysts spotted two launch pads with markings pointing north-west towards Tel Aviv and north-east towards Tehran. They are designed for Saudi Arabia's arsenal of lorry-launched DF3 missiles, which have a range of 1500 to 2500 miles (2400 km to 4023 km) and can carry a two-ton payload.

    The base, believed to have been built within the past five years, gives an insight into Saudi strategic thinking at a time of heightened tensions in the Gulf. While Saudi Arabia does not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel, it has long maintained back-channel communications as part of attempts to promote stability in the region.

    The two countries also have a mutual enemy in Iran, which has long seen Saudi Arabia as a rival power in the Gulf. Experts fear that if Iran obtains a nuclear weapon, Saudi Arabia would seek to follow suit.

    Analysts at IHS Jane's believe that the kingdom is in the process of upgrading its missiles, although even the DF3, which dates back to the Eighties, is potentially big enough to carry a nuclear device.

    The missile base, which is at al-Watah, about 125 miles (201 kilometres) south-west of the capital, Riyadh, was discovered during a project by IHS Jane's to update its assessment of Saudi Arabia's military capabilities.

    It serves as both a training and launch facility, with the missiles stored in an underground silo built into a rocky hillside. To the north of the facility are two circular launch pads, both with compass-style markings showing the precise direction that the launchers should fire in.

    The Chinese-made missiles are not remotely guided and have to be aimed at their target before firing.

    "One appears to be aligned on a bearing of approximately 301 degrees and suggesting a potential Israeli target, and the other is oriented along an azimuth [bearing] of approximately 10 degrees, ostensibly situated to target Iranian locations," said the IHS Jane's article, which is published on Thursday.

    While the lorry-launched missiles could theoretically be fired from any location, the idea of having pre-planned directional markers was to ensure that they could be deployed in accurate fashion as quickly as possible, said Allison Puccioni, an image expert at IHS Jane's.

    "There is a marked out spot for the launch truck to park in, which will facilitate an expedited launch," she said.

    Robert Munks, deputy editor of IHS Jane's Intelligence Review, said: "Our assessment suggests that this base is either partly or fully operational, with the launch pads pointing in the directions of Israel and Iran respectively.

    "We cannot be certain that the missiles are pointed specifically at Tel Aviv and Tehran themselves, but if they were to be launched, you would expect them to be targeting major cities.

    "We do not want to make too many inferences about the Saudi strategy, but clearly Saudi Arabia does not enjoy good relations with either Iran or Israel."

    Officials at the Saudi embassy in London did not respond when contacted by The Daily Telegraph.

    The Israeli embassy in London said: "We have no comment on this matter".

    David Butter, an associate fellow with the Middle East and North Africa programme at Chatham House, a London-based foreign affairs think tank, said: "It would seem that they are looking towards some sort of deterrent capability, which is an obvious thing for them to be doing, given that Iran too is developing its own ballistic missiles."

    He added, though, that the Saudis would know that the site would come to the attention of foreign intelligence agencies, and that the missile pad pointed in the direction of Israel could partly be just "for show".

    "It would give the Iranians the impression that they were not being exclusively targeted, and would also allow the Saudis to suggest to the rest of the Arab world that they still consider Israel a threat."

    Oil-rich Saudi Arabia considers itself one of the pre-eminent powers in the Gulf region, but its Sunni Islam leadership has long been at loggerheads with the Shia mullahs of Iran.

    The conflict in Syria, in which Saudi Arabia has backed the Sunni-dominated rebels and Iran has backed the Shia-dominated regime of President Bashar al-Assad, has heightened fears of a wider sectarian conflict.

    A confidential diplomatic cable revealed in the "Wiki-Leaks" disclosures of 2010 said that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia repeatedly exhorted the United States to launch military strikes against Iran's nuclear programme and "cut off the head of the snake".

    The Telegraph, London

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/saudis-t...#ixzz2YhuY8v00

  4. #4

    Ministry: Israel Tests Rocket System

    Jul. 12, 2013 - 11:52AM


    JERUSALEM — Israel on Friday staged what it said was a planned test of a rocket propulsion system at a military base on the Mediterranean coast.

    Israeli media, citing analysts, said the test appeared to be of a version of the Jericho ballistic missile with a range of at least 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles), easily capable of hitting arch-foe Iran.

    “This morning, Israel conducted a launching test from the Palmachim base of a rocket propulsion system,” the Israeli defense ministry said in a brief statement.

    “The scheduled test was pre-planned by Israel’s ministry of defense and was carried out as expected,” it said without elaborating.

    In January 2008, Israel successfully test-fired a long-range ballistic missile, days after warning “all options” were open to prevent Iran from obtaining an atomic weapon.

    Israel’s Jericho ground-to-ground missile is believed to be capable of carrying a nuclear, chemical or biological warhead.

    Israel was last believed to have tested its propulsion system in November 2011.

    Israel and Western governments fear that Iran’s nuclear program masks a drive for an atomic weapon.

    Iran denies any such ambition and insists its nuclear program is for power generation and medical purposes only.

    Israel is widely considered to be the Middle East’s sole if undeclared nuclear power with an estimated arsenal of 200 warheads.

    The test came as Israeli public radio said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid met defense officials Friday to discuss proposed budget cuts to conventional forces.

    Reports say that as part of overall cuts in government spending, reductions are planned in the number of tanks, ships and planes, as well as the dismissal of thousands of career servicemen over the next year.

    The radio said that Netanyahu had not yet given his approval.

  5. #5

    India Planning Two Agni-V Test Firings This Year

    By Jay Menon

    Source: Aerospace Daily & Defense Report

    July 18, 2013
    Credit: DRDO

    NEW DELHI — India’s Agni-V ballistic missile will be tested twice this year before being inducted into the country’s armed forces toward the end of 2014.

    The Agni-V, an intercontinental ballistic missile designed to hit targets at distances of up to 5,000 km (3,100 mi.), was test-fired in April 2012.

    This year India’s Defense and Research Development Organization (DRDO) will carry out two more tests, “the first most likely in September, which would be followed by a second test at the end of the year,” a DRDO official tells Aviation Week. “These are among DRDO’s high-priority missions. Our aim is to make the missile ready for induction by 2014.”

    The second test will be carried out from a tightly sealed canister mounted on a launcher truck, the DRDO official says.

    A canister-launch system will “provide the forces the requisite operational flexibility to swiftly transport the ballistic missile and launch it from a place of their choosing,” he explains.

    The missile was initially planned to be tested in May, but was delayed due to heavy rains.

    “The trials are usually avoided when sea is rough and weather is not conducive,” the DRDO official says. “We conduct thousands of tests through simulation in our labs under different conditions. The actual flight trials are to confirm what is predicted in simulation tests matches the algorithms.”

    A nuclear-tipped, three-stage missile, the Agni-V was developed by DRDO at a cost of more than 2.5 billion rupees ($48.4 million).

    It is 17.5 meters (57 ft.) tall with a launch weight of 50 tons. The missile is powered by solid propellants and can be transported by road.

    The successful 2012 test of the missile brought India closer to joining the small group of nations — including the U.S., China, Russia, the U.K. and France — with the capability to deploy intercontinental ballistic missiles.

    India is also developing the sixth in its series of Agni ballistic missiles that will be capable of carrying multiple warheads. While Agni-V can carry up to three nuclear warheads, Agni-VI will carry up to 10.

    India has said its missile program is not directed against any country.

    Agni, meaning fire in Hindi and Sanskrit, is a rocket family India has tested since 2002.

    In 2010, India successfully test-fired Agni-II, an intermediate-range ballistic missile with a range of more than 2,000 km (1,250 mi.).

  6. #6

    Israel Tests Enhanced Ballistic Missile

    By Alon Ben David

    Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology

    July 29, 2013

    Under a veil of secrecy, Israel appears to have taken another step toward boosting the range and accuracy of its ballistic missiles. A recent test fire of a weapon believed to be an improved version of the nuclear-capable Jericho III was deemed “highly successful,” by myriad defense sources.

    The weapon was launched westbound from the missile test center at Palmachim AFB, south of Tel Aviv, to an unknown range and landed in the Mediterranean. The launch of the heavy missile was clearly visible throughout Israel's southern Mediterranean coast.

    The Israeli Ministry of Defense declined to comment and issued a short statement saying merely that it had tested a “rocket propulsion system.”

    “The scheduled test was pre-planned . . . and was carried out as expected,” the press release stated.

    Reportedly, Israel's Jericho III intermediate-range ballistic missile is capable of carrying a 1,000-kg (2,204-lb.) warhead more than 5,000 km. It is believed to be designed to carry nuclear warheads.

    Israel had never confirmed having nuclear military capabilities, nor has it admitted possessing an arsenal of ballistic missiles. But in 2008, the country launched what appeared to be a three-stage solid-propellant ballistic missile. Apart from defining it as a “dramatic leap” in missile capabilities, little else was said officially. However, analysts around the world have designated the missile as Jericho III, a heavier, longer-range version of its predecessor, the two-stage 1,500-km Jericho II.

    Israel had begun developing ballistic missiles in the 1960s with the assistance of France, which also provided it with the Dimona nuclear reactor. The first prototype introduced then was the Jericho I short-range ballistic missile, with a range of 500 km. The Jericho II was first tested in 1986 and is believed to have become operational shortly after.

    Almost immediately following that event, Israel introduced the Shavit satellite launch vehicle (SLV), which was apparently developed in parallel to the Jericho. The Shavit 1 three-stage SLV was used in 1988 to launch the experimental Ofeq-1 satellite and placed it in low Earth orbit. After three failures of the Shavit, Israel developed an improved SLV, the Shavit-2, used to launch the Ofeq-7 reconnaissance satellite in 2007 and the Ofeq-9 in 2010.

    The Jericho III is believed to be derived from the Shavit-2 SLV, developed and manufactured by IAI's MLM Div., with Israel Military Industries Givon Div. developing the rocket engine for the first and second stage, and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. producing the engine for the third stage.

    Perceived to be the only nuclear power in the Middle East, Israel has vowed to prevent its archenemy Iran from obtaining nuclear capabilities.

  7. #7

    Prithvi May Have Tested New Guidance Systems

    Aug. 12, 2013 - 05:55PM


    NEW DELHI — India’s Strategic Forces Command (SFC) test-fired the surface-to-surface, nuclear-capable Prithvi-II missile Aug. 12, which sources said was a test of advanced guidance systems.

    The 350-kilometer-range Prithvi-II has already been inducted into the Indian Army and the Aug. 12 test-firing was described as routine. However, Defence Ministry sources said the Prithvi-II missile tested advanced guidance systems developed with the help of Israelis.

    “The launch was part of a regular training exercise of the SFC and was monitored by DRDO scientists,” said the official statement of the Indian Ministry of Defense.

    Prithvi-II was test-fired from India’s missile testing range at Chandipur off the coast of the eastern state of Odisha.

    “It was a perfect text-book launch and the missile was equipped with an advanced, high accuracy, indigenously developed navigation and maneuvering system. The missile achieved all its targeting and technical parameters set out for this launch. The missile trajectory was tracked by DRDO [Defence Research and Develpment Organisation] radars, electro-optical tracking systems and telemetry stations located along the coast of Odisha,” added the MoD statement.

    Prithvi, the first missile developed under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme, can carry a 500-kilogram warhead 1-meter in diameter, and is powered by a liquid propulsion twin engine. It uses advanced inertial guidance with maneuvering trajectory, said an MoD official.

  8. #8

    October 6, 2013 at 11:00

    Modernizing the Russian Strategic Missile Force (RVSN)

    Posted by Tamir Eshel

    The latest land mobile ICBM to enter the Russian Strategic Missile Force is the SS-29, Russian designation ‘RS-24 Yars’. `this 49 ton missile can carry four nuclear warheads to strike targets at a distance 11,000 km. Photo: RVSN

    While ballistic missile developments in Iran, North Korea, India and China are capturing the headlines, strategic forces of the world’s two superpowers undergoing profound changes and modernization. This article highlights new developments in the Russian Strategic Missile Force (RVSN), a follow-on article will overview the evolution of the US missile defense capabilities and the status of their strategic forces, under the New START treaty. For consistency, this article will refer to all missiles by their NATO designations, and, where such designation is unavailable – by the Russian designation.

    The article appearing on this page is an excerpt of the full version, available exclusively to Defense-Update subscribers.
    To read the full version please log in or subscribe.

    Russia's ICBM Launches mix
    Published on 6 Oct 2013

    This video is part of Defense-Update feature http://bit.ly/15f6fnb : "Modernizing the Russian Strategic Missile Force (RVSN)" Featuring the SS-18, SS-19, SS-25, SS-27, SS-29 Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles of the Russian Strategic Missile Force.

    While ballistic missile developments in Iran, North Korea, India and China are capturing the headlines, strategic forces of the world's two superpowers undergoing profound changes and modernization. This article highlights new developments in the Russian Strategic Missile Force (RVSN), a follow-on article will overview the evolution of the US missile defense capabilities and the status of their strategic forces, under the New START treaty. For consistency, this article will refer to all missiles by their NATO designations, and, where such designation is unavailable -- by the Russian designation.
    Read more at Defense-Update: http://defense-update.com/20131006_ru...

    Launching an SS-18 Satan – from a silo. The NATO reporting name for this missile is ‘Satan’, its Russian name is ‘Voyevoda’. Photo: Vadim Savitsky, Pravda.Ru

    According to the biennial report stating the aggregate numbers of “strategic offensive arms” under the New START treaty, the US has the largest arsenal of nuclear warheads, with 1,688 deployed weapons, compared to the Russian arsenal of 1,400 deployed warheads. The US also has largest fleet of nuclear carrying platforms – 809, compared to 473 deployed by the Russians.

    But the numbers don’t tell the whole story. While the US is maintaining and steadily reducing its inventory, to meet the treaty’s limits, the Russians strive to improve their arsenal with more capable weapons. According to open sources, the Russian Strategic Missile Forces currently operates at least 58 silo-based SS-18 Satan ballistic missiles, 160 road-mobile Topol (SS-25) missile systems, 50 silo-based and 18 road-mobile Topol-M (SS-27) systems, and 18 SS-29 Yars systems. At sea the Russians maintain eight Delta III/IV nuclear ballistic missile submarines remaining in service.

    By 2020, the RVSN is expected to convert all SS-25 and SS-19 missile units to the SS-27 and SS-29, fielding eight divisions with a total inventory of over 170 mobile and silo-based SS-27 and 108 SS-29 silo-based missiles. The deployment of follow-on ICBM, the Yars-M and R-26 Rubezh, was expected in 2013, but hasn’t officially announced yet. (Read about the new missile: “New ICBM Under Development in Russia“)

    Resulting from this plan, all liquid-propelled silo-based SS-19 Stiletto missiles will be decommissioned by 2017, leaving only 30 SS-18 (out of the current 58). (More on the new LP mega missiles: “Return of the Russian Missile Trains“)

    Besides the missile force, the Russian strategic triad comprises submarine-launched missiles and strategic bombers, delivering air-launched nuclear weapons. The principal nuclear armed weapon to equip those platforms is the Kh55 cruise missile, and its latest variant – Kh-102 that has entered service in the 2000s. The Tu-95MS can carry eight such missiles, and the Tu-160 carries 12 on two rotary launchers. These bombers will eventually be replaced by the future bomber known as ‘PAK-DA’, under development by the Tupolev design bureau, that has won the development tender offering a subsonic, stealthy “flying wing” design. (Read more in the article: “Russian Air Force to Field a Stealth Bomber By 2020“)

    The third part of the triad is a fleet of ballistic missile submarine force, carrying the SS-N-23 Submarine Launched ballistic Missile. This weapon has entered service in 2007 and is currently operational with three delta III and four Delta IV submarines in service with the Russian Navy. An improved version of this weapon is the R-29RMU2 Layner, introducing improved countermeasures, improving its capability to penetrate enemy missile defenses. Development of the new missile was completed in 2012. The solid-propelled RSM-56 Bulava has yet to become operational, after repeated failures in flight testing. (Read more on these missiles: “Russian SSBN Fleet to Receive Improved R-29 Missiles“)

    Comparison of Current Russian Strategic ICBM

  9. #9

    October 6, 2013 at 11:00

    New ICBM Under Development in Russia

    Posted by Noam Eshel

    The largest mobile ICBM in Russian service is the SS-29 Yars, which uses an eight-axle transporter erector launcher (TEL) for mobilization. The new R-36 will require a size axle TEL.

    The Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology (MITT) is developing a new Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) under the name RS-26 Rubezh. This ‘medium class’ ICBM attributed as ‘fifth generation’ missile is in a different weight class from the Topol-M/Yars, as it is intended to supplement the current missile fleet as a more transportable and maneuverable land mobile weapon system. Speaking after the June 2013 test of the missile, the head of the Main Operational Directorate of the General Staff, Gen.-Col. Zarudnitskiy said the Russian Rocket Forces would receive the first Rubezh regiment in 2014, following the conclusion of five flight tests to be conducted through 2013. He said the Rubezh missile would offer higher accuracy compared to current missiles.

    RS-26 has not been seen yet in public. It is estimated to weigh 36 tons and is likely to measure about 12 meter in length – about the size of the Submarine-launched R-36 Bulava. Developed by the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology (MITT), the Rubezh will be manufactured at the Votkinsk plant in the Urals republic of Udmurtia, where all solid-propellant missiles are made. The new missile is likely to be carried and launched from a land mobile launcher, possibly the MZKT-27291. The missile is propelled by solid fuel and carries either a single warhead, or multiple independent reentry vehicles (MIRV) – both configurations were tested this year. Commenting on one of the recent tests, in June 2013, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who oversees the defense industry, referred to these warheads as “missile defense killer.” Combined with advanced ICBM targeting system, which is currently being developed in Russia, the missile will be able to penetrate the most sophisticated missile defenses anywhere in the world.

    This new MZKT27291 six-axle vehicle unveiled in public in 2013 is believed to be a special purpose vehicle designed and built to provide the carrier, erector and launcher (TEL) for the new R-36 Rubezh Intercontinental Ballistic Missile.

  10. #10

    Suspect Russian Missile Test Raises Issue of INF Treaty’s Relevance

    (Source: Lexington Institute; issued October 28, 2013)

    Once upon a time, U.S. and Russian ballistic missile activities were front page news around the world. Both sides watched each other very carefully, assessing every new missile development, test and deployment carefully and arguing vociferously over treaty violations real and apparent. The fall of the Soviet Union and a 90 percent reduction in U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear forces drove the subject off the front page and out of the minds of most defense experts.

    At least this was true for the West, in general, and the United States, in particular. Every other nuclear nation, declared and not, is aggressively modernizing and expanding their nuclear arsenals. North Korea recently demonstrated a successful space launch using a vehicle that could double for an intercontinental ballistic missile. Add to that Pyongyang’s third nuclear test earlier this year and the prospects for instability in the Asia-Pacific region goes way up. China has thousands of theater ballistic and land-attack cruise missiles able to target U.S. bases in the region and those of our Asian allies. Beijing also is deploying advanced, land mobile ICBMs and its first sea-launched strategic ballistic missile submarines.

    Russia has not let the so-called reset in relations with the Obama Administration hinder its strategic nuclear modernization program. If anything, the New Start Agreement allowed Russia to build up even as the U.S reduced its strategic nuclear forces. Western intelligence sources predict that by 2020, Moscow will have replaced all its Cold War SS-25 and SS-19 missile units with modern SS-27s and SS-29s, more than half of which will be road-mobile. The Russian Navy is deploying at least one new submarine-launched ballistic missile and working on a second (the solid-fueled Bulava).

    Recently, arms control experts raised concerns that Russia is developing a missile that violates the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between the USSR and the United States. The INF Treaty eliminated all ballistic missiles with ranges between 500 and 5500 miles. Yet, just this year, the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces tested a new missile, the Rubezh or Yars M, to a range of approximately 2800 nm, which would be a violation of the INF Treaty. Even if this were but a shortened flight test of a true ICBM, it suggests a Russian interest in and ability to employ ICBMs as theater strike weapons.

    The broader issue is whether Cold War era treaties such as INF have outlived their usefulness. Russian President Putin has called for doing away with the INF Treaty. Faced with a massive Chinese offensive missile threat as well as Beijing's growing arsenal of air and missile defense interceptors, it seems sensible for Washington to join with Moscow in setting this hoary agreement aside. Then the U.S. could deploy land and sea-based theater missiles to counter the Chinese and North Korean threats.


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