RUSSIA TO TEST NEW MISSILE
Russia will test launch a controversial missile over the next several weeks that U.S. officials say is raising new concerns about Moscow’s growing strategic nuclear arsenal and Russia’s potential violations of arms treaties.
The RS-26 missile is expected to be deployed with multiple supersonic, maneuvering warheads designed to defeat U.S. missile defenses in Europe, U.S. officials told Inside the Ring.
A House defense aide said the new missile appears to violate the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, based on recent tests and Russian statements that it is designed to thwart U.S. defenses. The treaty bans missiles with ranges of between 310 and 3,400 miles.
“The Russians are advertising this as a system capable of defeating U.S. missile defenses in Europe,” the aide said. “At the same time, the State Department is accepting Russia’s claim that this is an ICBM and doesn’t violate INF. It can’t be both.”
The Air Force National Space and Missile Intelligence Center reported recently that Russia’s June 6 test of an RS-26 was a test-firing of an intermediate-range missile disguised as an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
Russian officials have denied that the RS-26 violates the INF Treaty, claiming it has a range greater than the treaty threshold of 3,410 miles.
However, Moscow officials in recent months have said the INF Treaty must be altered or scrapped to balance China’s growing arsenal of intermediate-range missiles. The Russians also have been quoted in state-controlled press reports as saying the new missile will be used to defeat and destroy U.S. and NATO missile defenses in Europe.
The Obama administration is deploying land- and sea-based defenses in and around Europe to counter Iranian longrange missiles.
Officials familiar with intelligence reports said the next test-firing of the RS-26 is expected in December.
In June, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin described it as a “missile defense killer” after a successful test flight with dummy warheads.
The new missile will be equipped with three multiple independently-targetable re-entry vehicles, or MIRVs. What is new is that the warheads are super-high-speed vehicles capable of maneuvering from missile interceptors. The maneuvering warheads are considered advanced technology that will increase the precision targeting of the missile system.
The missile also reportedly will be equipped with a high-performance fuel that boosts acceleration shortly after launch, a feature useful for avoiding antimissile interceptors.
The U.S. officials commented on the missile development after Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency reported Oct. 3 that the next RS-26 test will be conducted before the end of the year from the Kapustin Yar test range.
The new missile is raising questions under the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). The treaty does not prohibit modernizing strategic weapons but allows each side “to question” whether a new type of strategic arm is being developed.
A Pentagon spokesman could not be reached for comment.
The RS-26 will add to Russia’s formidable and growing arsenal, which includes SS-27 and SS-29 road-mobile, solid-fuel missiles; a new submarine-launched nuclear missile called Bulava; and plans for a new silo-based ICBM. Russia also announced plans to build rail-mobile ICBMs that were deployed during the Soviet-era and later dismantled.
Under the 2010 U.S.-Russia New START, both countries are to reduce deployed strategic warheads to 1,550. The treaty, however, does not prohibit Russia’s development and deployment of new strategic missile systems and weapons.
The strategic nuclear buildup is Moscow’s response to U.S. missile defenses, which Russia opposes as threatening its strategic nuclear forces.
The Obama administration has said U.S. missile defenses would not be used against Russian or Chinese nuclear missiles, although both nations have rejected the U.S. claims.
Russian government procurement documents provided the first official confirmation of the RS-26 on Sept. 23 when discussing insurance liability for related to test launches, Russia’s Vedomosti news outlet reported Oct. 1.
A Russian defense official told Interfax this week that the RS-26 “is fitted with advanced warheads that travel at supersonic speeds and are able to perform altitude and course maneuvers.” a satellite that captured another satellite with a robotic arm.
In response, PLA Daily, newspaper of the Chinese military, reported Oct. 11 that NASA’s blocking of Chinese scientists to an international astronomy conference resulted from anti-communist fervor.
“In his open letter to Bolden, Wolf, as usual, continued to violently slander China for the so-called theft of military and commercial secrets, and alleged that China would be provided with more opportunities for stealing secrets from the U.S. if the two countries seek cooperation in spaceflight,” the newspaper stated.
The Chinese accused Mr. Wolf of being part of a group that has “long been clinging to the Cold War mentality and prejudiced against China.” The paper then said China and the U.S. are important “space powers,” and noted the use by U.S. astronauts of a Chinese space station in the new Hollywood movie “Gravity.”
China is seeking greater access to U.S. technology, including space know-how, but has been blocked because Beijing’s space program is run by its military, which is developing high-technology space warfare capabilities, including missiles, killer satellites and lasers.
In June, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin described the RS-26 missile as a “missile defense killer” after a successful test flight with dummy warheads.