RUS­SIAN SUB TESTS MIRV

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitic­s -

Rus­sia’s re­cent flight test of a sub­ma­rine-launched bal­lis­tic mis­sile in­volved mul­ti­ple war­heads, ac­cord­ing to U.S. of­fi­cials fa­mil­iar with in­tel­li­gence re­ports of the test.

The Nov. 5 test of an SS-N-23 Skiff mis­sile was car­ried out from a Delta IV nu­clear mis­sile sub­ma­rine sub­merged in the Bar­ents Sea.

State-con­trolled Rus­sian me­dia re­ported that the mis­sile’s un­spec­i­fied num­ber of mul­ti­ple war­heads trav­eled some 3,100 miles across north­ern Rus­sia to the Kura mis­sile im­pact range on the Kam­chatka Penin­sula.

The SS-N-23 was de­clared in the 2011 New Strate­gic Arms Re­duc­tion Treaty (START) as hav­ing four war­heads. How­ever, more mod­ern ver­sions of the SS-N-23 have been re­ported in the Rus­sian press as car­ry­ing be­tween eight and 12 war­heads. If con­firmed, the ad­di­tional war­heads would vi­o­late the treaty.

The flight test high­lights Rus­sia’s con­tin­u­ing de­vel­op­ment of strate­gic mis­sile ca­pa­bil­i­ties, in­clud­ing sys­tems with mul­ti­ple in­de­pen­dently tar­getable reen­try ve­hi­cles, or MIRVs.

By con­trast, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is re­duc­ing its mul­ti­ple war­head mis­siles. The last of 450 land-based Min­ute­man III mis­siles was down­sized from three war­heads to one in June.

Rus­sia con­ducted a flight test of a new land-based mul­ti­ple war­head mis­sile, the SS-27 Mod 2, in April that some ex­perts say may have vi­o­lated the New START pro­hi­bi­tion on adding war­heads to ex­ist­ing mis­siles.

The Pen­tagon’s 2010 Nu­clear Pos­ture Re­view stated that all U.S. land-based in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­siles will be “deMIRVed” from three war­heads to one.

“This step will en­hance the sta­bil­ity of the nu­clear bal­ance by re­duc­ing the in­cen­tives for ei­ther side to strike first,” the re­view stated.

U.S. Tri­dent sub­ma­rine-launched mis­siles, how­ever, will con­tinue to be armed with mul­ti­ple war­heads.

There are con­cerns, how­ever, that Rus­sia may be im­prov­ing its new Bulava sub­ma­rine-launched mis­siles with mul­ti­ple ma­neu­ver­ing war­heads — sys­tems de­signed to de­feat U.S. strate­gic mis­sile de­fenses.

“There is a lot of talk in the Rus­sian press about ma­neu­ver­ing war­heads and 10 war­head pack­ages for the Bulava,” said Mark Sch­nei­der, a for­mer Pen­tagon strate­gic nu­clear weapons spe­cial­ist.

The Rus­sian mil­i­tary enthusiast blog rus­sian­forces.org re­ported in Au­gust that the Makeyev De­sign Bureau, a nu­clear mis­sile cen­ter, is de­vel­op­ing a ma­neu­ver­ing war­head for land- and sea-based mis­siles.

The Bulava was last tested in Oc­to­ber and was equipped with six dummy war­heads. It will be de­ployed on two new Borei-class mis­sile sub­marines.

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