Center for Arms Control, Energy and Environmental Studies at MIPT

Modernization Of Strategic Nuclear Weapons In Russia:
The Emerging New Posture

Nikolai Sokov
Monterey Institute for International Studies

Modernization of the Russian Nuclear Triad51

The statements and hypotheses in the preceding sections need further testing against the programs of modernization pursued by Russia. After all, it is the weapons themselves that provide the most incontrovertible evidence. They also take the longest to change, so that even if plans or policies evolve, the existing weapons systems will continue to constrain the choices and preferences of politicians. There are several features which are common for all modernization programs in all three legs of the triad, One is that modernization effort spans all three legs --ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers (the evidence on the latter is sketchy and unreliable), which should seem surprising: under the financial constraints and the decreasing overall limits of warheads the choice of a dyad (ICBMs + SLBMs) would have been logical. The possible reasons for that decision will be explored below.

Secondly, modernization is limited by Soviet standards. Only one new type of ICBMs is being developed (in the 1980s alone the Soviet Union deployed two new types, SS-24 and SS-25, and was considering modernization of three existing types and addition to one new type). Only one type of SSBNs is planned for deployment (in the 1980s--two types of SSBNs, Typhoon and Delta IV), one existing type of SLBMs (in the 1980s, the Soviet Union fielded two types of SLBMs, SS-N-20 and SS-N-23). One new type of heavy bombers is under development (in the 1980s-also only one new type, Tu-160).

Modernization is also proceeding slower than usual. Although the SS-25M (Topol-M) was adopted for deployment rather quickly, it was done at the expense of drastically cutting down on the number of flight tests. The new-generation SSBN is at least partially funded from the Moscow city budget (sic!), but the Severomorsk shipyard continues to suffer from insufficient allocations.

Additionally, modernization does not affect all three legs of the triad simultaneously, in contrast to Soviet practices. Instead, modernization of ICBMs is now in full swing, modernization of the sea-based leg is only beginning, and heavy bombers are clearly left for the future. This is quite unusual, as most of the existing types of weapons will have to be discarded around the year 2005-2010. This only serves to reinforce the hypothesis above that the properties of the US-Russian nuclear balance are not viewed as "real," but rather as a benchmark for planning: otherwise, a crash program could have followed, with associated changes in the resource mobilization mechanism.

Even more interesting is that the stages of modernization do not seem to be directly related to the state of technology of the existing weapons. Had it been the case, heavy bombers would have been probably the first in line since the bulk of that leg consists of Tu-95MS, which were produced in the 1980s, but are based on 1950s technology. The ICBM force, in contrast, is by all standards rather modern, but was nonetheless accorded the highest priority.

Instead, service life appears to be the criterion behind the choice of one or another leg of the triad for modernization. The service life of Topols is the shortest (10- 15 years) and will expire in 2005-20 10; the service life of SSBNs is up to 25-30 years, although this would require periodic medium-level maintenance, which is not being performed on time and on all submarines, with the effect of shortening the service life for some of those (the service life of heavy bombers is up to 30 years and they are expected to remain operational longer than any other existing class of delivery vehicles).52 Economic woes are common knowledge. Still, there is little doubt that the Russian government would have found the money for strategic modernization programs had the situation been assessed as dangerous. Evidently, this is not the case: the government considers external conditions sufficiently stable for years ahead to tolerate a fairly slow pace of modernization.

Modernization programs comply with START II. No MIRVed ICBMs are under development, which is consistent with the prohibition on these missiles. Under no conceivable circumstances can Russia exceed the START II limit of 3,500 warheads; to the contrary, it is likely to stay well below that limit. Furthermore, a significant increase in the concentration of warheads on delivery vehicles (in case Russia decides to develop and deploy MIRVed ICBMs and 10-warhead SLBMs) would make the force less stabilizing, which would run counter to the dominant views of the military. It should not be forgotten that the military began the shift toward putting the premium on survivability of the triad well before the dissolution of the Soviet Union and while still under conditions of practically unlimited funding. The deployment of mobile ICBMs in the 1980s was the first step in that direction. The reduction of the number of warheads on existing SLBMs (for example, from seven to four on SS-N- 18) reflected the same trend, same as the fact that SS-N-23, the most modern of the existing SLBMs, has only four warheads. The 1990 Joint Statement on Future Negotiations proclaimed the intention to reduce concentration of warheads on delivery vehicles, which was more than a concession to the United States: the projected ICBM and SLBM programs featured no more than five warheads per missile.53

This means that survivability achieved through mobility and low concentration of warheads on delivery vehicles is not a Russian innovation, but rather a continuation of an earlier trend. In a sense, START II represents what the Soviet military would have expected in the form of START IV or V. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the economic crisis only helped to accelerate that evolution.

Since the "jump" over stages has already been made, Russia is likely to continue its adherence to the current trends in modernization and will refrain from MIRVing ICBMs. This line could be altered if the United States deploys a national missile defense (NMD) system. In this case domestic pressure to deploy MIRVed ICBMs as the means of penetrating the defense might tip the existing balance within the Russian government and elite and strengthen the position of the (still numerous) proponents of MIRVing. But such a change in the modernization plans is by no means assured: even some conservatives recognize that an effective second-strike capability could be retained without MIRVing.

But prospective systems are expected to have robust defense penetration capabilities, and this is one more common feature of modernization. The new ICBM is reportedly able to carry a very large load of decoys and defense penetration aids; the new SSBN will be able to carry SLCMs, and, finally, the development of heavy bombers is dictated, to a large extent, by the perceived need in ALCMs.

(I) Land-Based Strategic Missiles

ICBMs have been accorded the highest priority among other legs of the triad. Their modernization was halted only briefly after the breakup of the Soviet Union and resumed as early as 1993. This could be explained by several reasons. First, ICBMs have always been and are likely to remain the core of the Soviet strategic potential. With the large landmass, relatively restricted access to oceans, and no forward bases to deploy heavy bombers, ICBMs are the most convenient choice from the strategic-military point of view. The SRF has also created a strong bureaucratic position and is able to influence decisionmaking; in the minds of many politicians nuclear weapons have come to be associated with land-based missiles. The appointment of Igor Sergeev as the minister of defense only reinforces this trend.

The breakup of the Soviet Union has had a strong impact as well: two of three modem types of ICBMs (SS-18, a.k.a. R-36 and its modifications, and SS-24, a.k.a. RT-23) were produced in Ukraine; parts of the production base for the single-warhead SS-25 (a.k.a. Topol, a.k.a. RT-2PM) also remained outside Russia. As a result, Russia found it difficult and expensive to maintain even the existing weapons, much less transfer production from Ukraine. The almost desperate need for US support in the withdrawal of nuclear weapons from former republics to Russia, especially from Ukraine, coupled with rather unfriendly relations with the latter, led Russia to agree to complete elimination of MIRVed ICBMs.

Yet another reason to give priority to ICBMs could be understood if one pictures the situation in 1992-93. Ratification of START II seemed imminent; it had to be implemented by 2003 or, if the United States would have provided necessary assistance, by the year 2000. This meant that by 2000 Russia would have been left practically without silo-based ICBMs, except for 105 very old SS-19s (UR-100UTTKh) downloaded to one warhead. Development of a new silo-based ICBM seemed urgent; even road-mobile Topol-Ms could wait.

It is truly amazing, though, how much START II, which the Russian parliament refuses to ratify, has already benefited Russia. Despite its many shortcomings, it helped to limit modernization of ICBMs to just one type of single-warhead ICBMs. Without START II, political pressure in favor of research and development on a new MIRVed ICBM completely made in Russia might have been too strong. The lack of resources might have strengthened the hand of those who advocated a return to an authoritarian system. As things stand now, the defense of MIRVing remains the prerogative of a minority (except for in the scenario of US deployment of an NMD).

The mainstay ICBM is Topol-M.54 The testing phase is over, and the first regiment was deployed in late December 1997. On December 27, 1997 Boris Yeltsin officially congratulated Igor Sergeev with the introduction of the first Topol-Ms into combat duty.55 However, because of insufficient funding the regiment consists of only two deployed missiles instead of the usual ten; the deployment itself is classified as "evaluative," rather than a full-scale combat one.56

Topol-M was designed at the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology (MIT), a firm that specializes in solid-fuel missiles. From the very beginning (in the late 1960s) it was assigned the task of designing a solid-fuel mobile ICBM. The first prototype, called Temp-2S, was dropped (some say, because it was too heavy to be practical).57 The next, successful ICBM, Topol, appeared only by the 1980s, after a successful intermediate-range missile Pioneer (SS-20). Some say, however, that the adoption of Topol for deployment was partially due to the fact that Dmitri Ustinov, who prior to becoming the minister of defense held top positions in the defense industry, had a "soft spot" for both the MIT and the Ministry of Defense Industry, which supervised it. (Previously, strategic missiles had been designed only within the confines of the Ministry of General Machine-Building). As a result, the military adopted a missile which, some say, was not ready for deployment. Today, one might say it was sheer luck that through bureaucratic competition the MIT was given the assignment: as a result, Russia inherited an active design bureau after the dissolution of the Soviet Union (other design bureaus in the Russian territory had switched to civilian space launch vehicles years earlier).

Research on Topol-M began in the late 1980s and by the early 1990s the missile was ready for testing. The final decision to begin work on Topol-M was made by Boris Yeltsin in February 1993: this decision confirmed and probably amended earlier Soviet decisions on this missile (the amendments were necessary, obviously, to account for the need to transfer production of some components to Russia).58 From the very beginning, Topol-M was intended as a dual-based ICBM, to be deployed in silos and on road-mobile launchers. Only the silo-based version exists today; the road-mobile version has yet to be tested. This will involve primarily modification of the first stage, and the process will be relatively simple.

Compared to Topol, the new missile is slightly shorter--the length of the assembled missile without front section is 17.9 meters (Topol, 18.5 meters) and wider--the diameter is 1.86 meters (Topol, 1.8 meters). Its front section is slightly longer: 3.3 meters (Topol, 2.3 meters).59 This solid-fuel missile is deployed and maintained in launch canister, as the absolute majority of Soviet missiles (only the SS-13 was deployed and maintained by stages), continuing the traditional difference between the United States and the Soviet Union/Russia in terms of approaches to missile-building.

The pace of Topol-M's development was high: the first test was conducted in December 1994 and the last one in July 1997. Compared to Topol, however, this should not seem excessive: the first test of the latter was conducted in February 1983 and in 1985 the missile was adopted for deployment.60 The unusual aspect was that only four tests of Topol-M took place in three years, whereas in the Soviet Union the usual number of tests for a new type was 15-20.61

Thus, testing of Topol-M seems more than a little bit hasty. The START I Treaty permits up to 20 tests before the side has to either completely abandon the new missile or accept it for deployment; the first official information on a new missile (its throw-weight) has to be provided only after seven tests.62 This means that in the late 1980s the prospect of such a short test series did not occur to anyone in the Soviet Union or the United States. In fact, a well-known conservative general, member of the Communist Party faction in the Duma, Albert Makashov claimed that Topol-M had not undergone the required number of tests and was not ready for deployment at all.63

The unusually small number of tests could partially be explained by the fact that the missile was a derivative from the existing Topol and thus used some existing technology, but also by the possibility that tests were more thoroughly prepared than used to be the case in the Soviet Union.64 There are reports that the ground checks were considerably more thorough and that they were performed at the test range rather than at the plant as had been the case during the Soviet period.65

Insufficient funding evidently played an important role as well. In fact, originally a series of six tests was scheduled, and after the first test some reports indicated that more might be necessary. Even after the third test the situation remained uncertain, since the missile reportedly had flaws in the cooling system. Evidently, the fourth test went smoothly, and the missile was adopted for deployment. Still, only one successful test is hardly sufficient, and the military might be not completely satisfied with the quality of the new missile.66

Topol-Ms service life without major maintenance is up to 15-20 years, longer than that of Topol.67 Most of the Topols that exist today will have to be replaced rather soon, which means that quite a large quantity of new missiles will have to be produced. Reportedly, the production capacity of the Votkinsk plant is up to 80 missiles per year; production is cost-effective at 30 missiles per year, and the absolute minimum necessary to sustain the cooperation network of about 200 plants is 12-15.68 The deployment rate was at 20 missiles per year in 1996, enough to sustain production cooperation, but insufficient to make it cost-effective.69

The planned rate of production is 30-40 annually with the goal of deploying 400-500 Topol-Ms by 2010, although the level of funding is only 55 percent of the required, which means that if the financial situation does not improve, only about 300 missiles will be deployed by 2010.70 However, if economic conditions improve rapidly, as the Russian government now predicts, it would not be impossible to return to the Soviet-era deployment rate of 48 per year.71

Topol-M follows the Soviet tradition of large throw-weight: reportedly, 1.2 tons (for comparison, Topol is 1 ton and a three-warhead Minuteman III is 1.15 tons). This is the source of consistent speculation that Russia might MIRV Topol-M, especially since the predecessor of both, the intermediate-range missile Pioneer (SS-20) carried three warheads. Recently, Yakovlev did mention this possibility. But throwweight in itself is not necessarily a reliable indicator. Topol-M is consistent in this respect with other Soviet missiles: the six-warhead SS-19 is 4.35 tons and the modern 10-warhead SS-24 is 4.05 tons; a comparison to Minuteman III is not necessarily an indication of anything. In any event, MIRVing Topol-M would require extensive redesigning and retesting of the missile, so no breakout from START II limits would be possible, at least compared to the breakout potential of Minuteman III and D-5 (Trident II). The conditions under which MIRVing Topol-M could become feasible were noted in preceding sections.

Large throw-weight could be attributed to greater weight of the warhead, guidance and other systems, and defense penetration aids. Topol-M is considered fairly well equipped for penetration of defense systems. According to some estimates, this single-warhead ICBM carries more decoys and penetration aids than a 10-warhead Peacekeeper (MX).72 Reportedly, only a direct hit by an anti-missile could stop its warhead on the descending trajectory.73 US sources suggest that Topol-M has a maneuvering warhead, which has not been tested yet;74 Russian sources are silent on that matter. If these reports are correct, then Topol-M, indeed, has an impressive defense penetration capability.

The first stage of Topol-M is reported to be more powerful than that of Topol, which gives it an added capability to avoid a space-based defense system of the type that was widely touted in the United States in the 1980s under the "Star Wars" nickname. According to the commander-in-chief of the SRF Vladimir Yakovlev, the greater power of Topol-M's booster was used to reduce the duration and the altitude of the active (boost) phase of the trajectory. This was done specifically for the purpose of avoiding the impact of "various types" of anti-missile defense systems, such as ultra-high-frequency emissions, lasers, etc.-a clear reference to the "exotic" space-based systems foreseen under the "START Wars."75 Dvorkin disclosed that the altitude of Topol-M's boost phase is 4.5 times lower than that of older MIRVed ICBMs, and only the new ICBM makes any sense under the conditions of a prospective US NMD.76

The distinguishing feature of the new ICBM is the premium put on survivability. The silo-based version is reported to have enhanced resistance to a nuclear explosion: some say that it can withstand a direct hit by a nuclear warhead. The missile itself is completely resistant to an electromagnetic impulse.77

The road mobile version possesses vastly more effective navigational equipment. According to Yakovlev, it could be launched from any level spot within the division deployment area, whereas Topol could be launched only from a limited number of predetermined spots.78 Topol-M is projected to have significantly enhanced concealment capabilities, being able to avoid all types of space and airborne intelligence systems.79 Solomonov argues that the missile launchers might remain unconcealed during normal combat duty, but will "disappear" if combat alert is introduced.80 This might prove to be especially valuable in terms of the ability to avoid B-1B and B-2 heavy bombers, which are commonly conceptualized in Russia as "hunters" after mobile ICBMs.

The impact of concealment measures on verifiability--an obvious issue that is likely to be raised at arms control talks--is likely to be minimal. The number of deployed mobile ICBMs is checked through on-site inspections, when all mobile launchers have to return to their garrison. The risk that some deployed launchers might not return is hardly greater than with respect to Topols: the latter could theoretically remain hidden as well. Other verification instruments provided by START I were designed to remove that residual risk. The overall number of missiles for mobile launchers is checked through the perimeter and portal continuous monitoring system installed at the production facility, which gives the most reliable figure on the number of produced missiles; the aggregate number of non-deployed (spare) missiles could be verified through on-site inspections; the difference between the two numbers (produced and non-deployed) gives the aggregate number of deployed missiles.

What future awaits Topol-M? Clearly, the missile will remain the mainstay of the SRF for a long time. The road-mobile version will gradually replace Topols, and ultimately the whole force will consists exclusively of Topol-Ms. But the system is apparently not perfect. In 1992, during the first stage of public debate over the yet-unsigned START II, a number of drawbacks were disclosed by none other than the Communist “Pravda.”81 The missile was considered rather large and heavy, which limited its maneuverability and speed and constrained its ability to escape from a nuclear strike fast enough and would be too vulnerable to the blast wave of an explosion. The critics declared that Topols were acceptable only as part of a much larger ICBM force, but not as the only type. Judging by the size of the missile, Topol-M probably inherited the same drawbacks, according to some experts.82

Of course, these problems are mitigated by the presence of silo-based ICBMs and the projected overall size of the force (eventually about 700-800 missiles). Apparently, Topol-M even in its mobile mode is more survivable than Topol. Still, as arsenals are reduced, a new, lighter and smaller missile might be required to increase survivability not just of the force as a whole, but also of each missile. There are no indications of such plans so far, for understandable reasons. Russia can barely support the work on Topol-M, that is, without affecting the overall economic and social policy, and is unlikely to embark upon a new program until the economic situation seriously improves. In the future a new ICBM seems likely, if current trends in global nuclear relationships continue. There is an isolated and not very reliable mention, however, of a modification of Topol-M, a Topol-M2, but its characteristics remain unknown.83

Topol-M was not the only single-warhead ICBM under development in the Soviet Union, however. In an October 5, 1991 statement, Mikhail Gorbachev mentioned that the Soviet Union was terminating the program of creating a small mobile ICBM.84 The word "small" meant that this missile was smaller than Topol-M. According to Solomonov, the missile's designation was Courier, and it was an analogue to the US “small ICBM” Midgetman. It featured new materials, new fuel, new guidance systems, and other elements, and the R&D program had reached the stage of flight-tests by mid-1991. But, he complained, the United States learned about the new missile (probably from the tests of its components) and “did not permit [the Soviet Union] to conduct flight tests.”85 A more feasible explanation, however, is that facing the choice between two programs, one of which had become excessive for financial reasons and because of arms reductions, the Soviet Union chose the one that was closer to the existing type. This permitted savings on R&D, testing, and deployment: unlike Topol-M, Courier would have required a completely new launcher, infrastructure, etc. It is also possible that the other missile was not intended for dual basing.

Russia might conceivably return to this idea in the sense that the next missile will be smaller than Topol-M, more mobile and hardened. At least, this would fall into the broad trend toward greater survivability of the retaliatory forces.

A different option was disclosed by the first deputy defense minister Nikolai Mikhailov. According to him, Russia has started R&D on a single missile for land and sea basing.86 This will permit, of course, major savings through the maximum possible reduction in the number of types. Whether the project will be technologically optimal and how the legal aspects will be taken care of (ICBMs will have to be single-warhead, while SLBMs are more cost-effective if they carry several warheads) remains to be seen.

(II) Sea-Based Strategic Weapons

The information on SLBM modernization is rather sketchy and contradictory, unlike that on ICBMs. This is hardly surprising as it began in earnest only in late 1996 with the laying of the keel of a new submarine. As with all new programs, the initial stage allows plenty of space for conjecture and speculation;87 in the absence of hard data, one can only attempt to untangle the contradictory information offered by various sources.

The sea leg is the second priority after ICBMs. Its modernization could not be postponed for too long. Navy requires especially long lead time for modernization, since construction of new submarines is a lengthy process. The existing submarines are growing old,88 and the new class had to be started in the mid-1990s. After 2003, the SSBN force was expected to consist of 24 of the most modern SSBNs (Delta III, Delta IV and Typhoon), but after 2006--only 17 submarines: even relatively new submarines will begin to die out.89

Construction of the first submarine of the new, fourth generation 90officially began on November 2, 1996.91 Its name was selected with a special purpose in mind: Yuri Dolgoruki, after a 12th century great prince who founded Moscow. The mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov, was present at the ceremony and committed funds from the city budget to support its construction. The new submarine is being built at the Severodvinsk shipyard after an almost 10-year pause in SSBN construction. Construction is expected to last for four years,92 although consistent funding shortages might delay it.93

According to official US estimates, the new Borey class SSBN will be equipped with solid-fuel SS-NX-28 SLBMs94 (a.k.a. R-39UTTKh,95 a.k.a. D-31). The new missile is reportedly more accurate and has longer range.96 Based on the missile type, Project 955 is assumed to be a continuation of Project 941 (a.k.a. Typhoon, a.k.a. Akula), the largest SSBN in the world. Still, no source explicitly establishes the connection.97 Project 941, of which six submarines are now in service, is equipped with R-39 SLBM (a.k.a. SS-N-20, a.k.a. D-19, a.k.a. RSM-52),98 each carrying ten warheads.

This logical picture hides numerous inconsistencies, however. Project 955 is not necessarily a continuation of Project 941. Steven Zaloga, an authority on Soviet and Russian strategic weapons, hypothesized that it was a derivative of the fourth-generation attack submarine (SSN), Project 885 (a.k.a. Severodvinsk). Construction of the first submarine of this class, Tomsk, began in the summer of 1996.99

Russian specialists, however, define Borey as Delta V, establishing a direct link between the existing Project 667 modifications (667A, 667B, 667BD, 667BDR, and 667BDRM), which are considered the "workhorse" of the Soviet/Russian SSBN fleet, and the new SSBN.100

Project 955 is smaller than Project 941 (reportedly 170 x 10 meters)101 and its silhouette is similar to Project 667BDRM (a.k.a. Delta IV, a.k.a. Delphin). Like on Project 667BDRM, Project 955's missile tubes are located behind the sail; Project 941 has a unique configuration: its missile tubes are in front of the sail. Borey will carry 12 SLBMs (Project 667BDRM: 16, Project 941: 20). Project 955's abovewater displacement is somewhere between Project 667BDRM (11,740 tons) and Project 941 (23,200 tons);102 US sources estimate it between 18,000 and 20,000 tons.103 Its underwater displacement is actually smaller than even that of Project 667BDRM: 17, 100 tons (667BDRM: 18,200 tons, 941: 48,000 tons).104

But if the new SSBN does not represent a development of Project 941 SSBNs, then one would have good grounds to doubt that it will be equipped with the R-39UTTKh SLBM. Indeed, the development of R-39UTTKh began in 1985 and already in 1989 the missile was adopted for deployment,105 when no new class of SSBN was yet in existence. Russian experts report that the R-39UTTKh (D-19UTTKh) was intended as a replacement for R-39 (D-19U) missile as part of modernization of the Typhoon submarines.106

In 1991 or 1992 the first Project 941 SSBN was put in dock for modernization and, Zaloga suggested, was supposed to be refitted with the R-39UTTKh SLBMs in the place of R-39. He notes, however, with his usual caution, that under the strained economic conditions the project (with replacement of all R-39 by the modernized version) might never be completed. In fact, he says, R-39UTTKh has never been produced in quantity, since its first stage was developed and probably produced at Pavlograd, in Ukraine, and the breakup of the Soviet Union created a dilemma: whether all production should be moved to Russia or a new arrangement with Ukraine should be found.107 It is worth noting that the Russian military has never felt comfortable with importing components of strategic weapons.108 A different version, however, suggests that the first stage of R-39 was produced in Penn and then shipped to Pavlograd.109

The logical question, then, is: if the R-39UTTKh is not the SLBM intended for Project 955, which missile will be deployed with that new class? Surprisingly, almost every Western expert, at least to this author's knowledge, has missed another new type of SLBMs. One should recognize, though, that almost nothing is known about it. According to B. Makeev, the Miass design bureau was working on two new SLBMs: one he called SS-NX-27 (a follow-on to RSM-52, a.k.a. R-39) which in the West is designated as SS-NS-28, and another SS-NX-26, a follow-on to RSM-54 (a.k.a. R-29RM, a.k.a. D-9RM, a.k.a. SS-N-23), which is deployed with Project 667BDRM.110 He did not provide further data on the second missile (and his NATO-style designations are questionable), but the fact that the Miass bureau was working on a new missile to replace R-29RM is significant. The information about research conducted on a follow-on to R-29RM is confirmed by Zuev, Kuznetsov, and Tsvetkov.111 Jane's also mentions a follow-on liquid-fuel SLBM, which it designates SS-NX-27.112

The military and the defense industry have been rather closed-mouthed about the development of new SLBMs: when a test-flight in November 1997 went astray, the official information did not include an indication of the type and characteristics of that new missile.113 Apparently, this was the R-39UTTKh;114 US sources indicate that all tests of that missile have so far been unsuccessful.115

R-29RM is a liquid-fuel missile which carries four warheads; it has two standard configurations, though --with ten and with four warheads.116 It seems likely that a follow-on to Project 667BDRM would carry a follow-on to R-29RM, which should mean that the new missile will remain liquid-fuel and have about four warheads (3 to 5).117 Thus, each Project 955 submarine will carry from 36 to 60 warheads, which is consistent with the trend toward achieving greater survivability through low concentration of warheads on delivery vehicles.118

How did official US sources come up with the proposition that Project 955 will carry SS-NX-28 (R-39UTTKh)? The expectation is logical, because work on the second missile, a follow-on to R-29RM, is apparently behind schedule.119 Testing has not begun yet, although the submarine is already under construction.

Of course, Russia will not be able to deploy many Project 955 submarines for obvious financial reasons (Komsomolskaya Pravda reports that seven Borey SSBNs will be ultimately built120). The force will consist of a mixture of Projects 667BDRM, 941, and 955. But even a relatively small addition of the Borey class submarines would make the force more survivable. In any event, it would not be logical to deploy the new submarine with 10-warhead missiles as it would reduce the overall number of submarines permitted under START II and even further within the START III limits. The original plan for START II was apparently around 18 submarines (some say 25121); the mere thought that because of insufficient funding it would dwindle to around 12122 is viewed as a near-tragedy.123 Obviously, the more submarines in the force, the more submarines are on patrol at any given time. But it is a known fact that the Soviet Union could keep a smaller percentage of its submarines on patrol than the United States, which dictates a larger overall force just to keep a similar number of submarines at sea.124

(III) Air-Based Strategic Weapons

There is even less known about modernization of heavy bombers than about sea-based strategic weapons. Until recently, it even seemed possible that Russia would allow the remaining small force of its heavy bombers to "die out" and make a transition toward a dyad. Of course, this would have taken a long time: the current force consists of Tu-95MS heavy bombers, which represent a very old technology (the original Tu-95s were designed in the 1950s), but were modernized in the 1980s to accommodate air-launched cruise missiles (ALCMs). The service life of these bombers is about 30 years, so they are expected to survive for a reasonably long time. Russia also has a handful of modern Tu-160s, but the majority of those remained in Ukraine, and after five years of fruitless negotiations Russia decided not to buy them.

Although Tu-160 could remain operational for a rather long time, production of additional aircraft is expensive. As an apparent response to the failure of attempts to acquire Tu-160s from Ukraine, it was decided to complete production of the six half-ready Tu-160s, which still sit at a plant in Kazan,125 but there are apparently no new contracts. When the economic situation improves, the Tu-160 will already represent outdated technology and probably will not be worth producing. Possible further reductions, beyond the 2,500 level of START III, might create a tension between the Air Force and the modernizing ICBM and SLBM force, forcing them into a competition for the share of warheads. Thus, while the existing force will survive until the START II reductions are completed and even into the START III phase, the ultimate choice in favor of a dyad would be logical.

The transition toward a dyad was hinted at in the unilateral moratorium on the production of heavy bombers announced by Mikhail Gorbachev. Although it is possible to resume production (there are no legal limits on a reversal of the unilateral step), today it remains unlikely, except for the above-mentioned decision to complete the six bombers, which were left "frozen" by Gorbachev. The variants of the structure of the nuclear triad developed by the SRF assume a stable air-based component of about 80 heavy bombers with about 600 START I accountable warheads; this number could vary only to the extent that Tu-95MS could be downloaded to six ALCMs or uploaded to 16.126 The apparent halt of R&D on new nuclear ALCMs and concentration on conventional ALCMs seemed to reinforce this trend (ALCM modernization is discussed further below).

Apparently, these projections do not represent the last word in strategic planning. The modernization of the air leg of the triad is probably beginning. Recently Petr Deynekin (then commander-in-chief of the Air Force) announced that work on new models was underway.127 His vague statement was detailed by the director-general of the Tupolev design bureau, Igor Shevchuk. He said that the bureau was working on a follow-on to both the medium Tu-22 bomber and the heavy Tu- 160 bomber.128

Finally, there is an unconfirmed report that Russia already has a Tu-180 heavy bomber--a "stealth" one, most probably very similar to the B-2, at least judging from the photograph.129 Development of a "stealth" heavy bomber would have been consistent with the propensity of the Soviet military and defense-industrial leaders to match US modernization; it is much less clear if this would be a preferred choice for Russia. For that reason one would have solid ground to question the information.

A combination of strategic considerations and bureaucratic maneuvering probably was behind the decision to begin research on a new heavy bomber. The prospect of the United States deploying an NMD naturally creates a stimulus for Russia to retain ALCMs, demanding in turn an effort to retain and modernize their delivery vehicles. With the ABM Treaty firmly in place, Russia might choose a dyad. Also, the commander-in-chief of the Air Force, Petr Deynekin, is a former commander of the long-range (strategic) aviation, and so his preferences went to the preservation and modernization of the heavy bomber force. He also was a close ally of the new minister of defense, Igor Sergeev. With the departure of Deynekin, the bureaucratic momentum behind heavy bomber modernization might be lost.

A recent interview with the commander-in-chief of the SRF, Vladimir Yakovlev, reflects the support, which the "missile-men," uncharacteristically, are prepared to render to the Air Force. He declared that the strategic forces of Russia need to keep the three-component structure in the future and that a heavy bomber force is and will remain absolutely essential for the effectiveness of the strategic arsenal. He particularly stressed the ability of heavy bombers to carry ALCMs.130

In the absence of hard data on modernization of heavy bombers, one is left to speculate about what exactly might come out of it. The new aircraft, if it emerges, will be designed exclusively for ALCMs, since no other weapon would make much sense. It is also likely to carry only nuclear ALCMs, although one should not rule out the possibility that conventional ALCMs will be deployed on it as well. The decisions will be largely determined by the provisions of START I and II, which were developed primarily to fit the then current US position. According to the START I Treaty (this provision was inherited by START II), nuclear ALCMs could be deployed only on heavy bombers; if a nuclear ALCM is deployed on any other aircraft, it automatically begins to classify as a heavy bomber. Thus, the only way Russia could preserve nuclear ALCMs in its arsenal is to have heavy bombers.

Conventional ALCMs, to the contrary, could be deployed on a variety of aircraft. START I established a special limit on the number of conventionally-equipped heavy bombers (up to 75), and START II added the right to "redesignate" up to 100 nuclear-equipped heavy bombers for conventional missions (Russia, however, is against this provision and tries to eliminate it either through an amendment to START II or within the context of the future START III treaty). Thus, Russia could theoretically deploy up to 175 heavy bombers with conventional weapons. This seems unlikely, however, for two reasons. One is financial: Russia can hardly afford modernization and production of even the heavy bombers to replace the existing ones; a large-scale program for conventionally armed heavy bombers appears out of question for a long time. Second, most of the "conventional" missions for which the United States would need heavy bombers are within the reach of medium bombers (such as Tu-22M3) for Russia. Heavy bombers could be only moderately attractive for these missions because of their larger payload (up to 16 for Tu-95MS).

A logical decision for the years to come would be to retain heavy bombers with nuclear ALCMs and medium bombers with conventional ones. If the United States is able to retain its START I and START II position in favor of the virtual absence of the so-called "functionally related" distinctions between heavy bombers with different equipment,131 Russia might choose the option of dual equipment. Essentially this would mean that Russia will be able to retain a relatively small fleet of heavy bombers and use them for nuclear or conventional missions as needed. In terms of arms control negotiations, this might mean that Russia will attempt to return to its earlier position (the Soviet position of the mid- 1980s) in favor of counting all heavy bombers as nuclear-capable.

The characteristics of the future new heavy bomber are a matter of speculation and conjecture. As the information above about Tu-180 suggests, the new heavy bomber might use the "stealth" technology, that is, reduced probability of being detected by radar. It is known that the Soviet Union was working on that technology, and one should not exclude that it will be used for the new aircraft.

Conversely, it is also possible that the new heavy bomber will represent a simpler version of Tu-160. Indeed, a carrier of ALCMs does not need too many "fancy" features, much less "stealth" technology.132 ALCMs could be launched from a long distance. A simpler heavy bomber will also be cheaper, which is important under the existing and projected economic conditions (even after economic growth begins, money could be spent for other purposes).

The new heavy bomber is likely to carry 12 ALCMs on board, in its internal bays, same as Tu-160. The reasons are simple: first, it is unlikely that the future heavy bomber will have more than two internal bays. Second, the standard rotary launcher for ALCMs on Tu-160 holds six ALCMs, and it would be logical and cheaper to use the existing system.

In the 1990s, R&D efforts clearly concentrated on modernization of ALCMs, especially the ones with conventional warheads. By 1992, the nuclear ALCMKh-55 was redesigned for non-nuclear warheads (Kh-65), but its range dropped to only 600 km compared to 2,400 and 3,000 for two versions of Kh-55 (apparently this version served as the basis for an even shorter-range conventional ALCM, Kh-SD, with the range of only 300 km).133 A whole new line of short-range weapons might mean that Kh-65 was not necessarily a continuation of Kh-55, though, but rather an independent design that used various elements of the strategic ALCM.134 This hypothesis is supported by the parallel R&D on a new long-range supersonic ALCM.

By the end of the 1980s, the Soviet Union reported that work was underway on a supersonic (M2.5 to 3) long-range (up to 4,000 km) ALCM designated Kh-90. Several flight tests were conducted in 1990 and 1991, but in 1992 the program was reportedly terminated for undisclosed reasons.135 But in October 1995 reports about a new, next-generation conventional long-range supersonic ALCM appeared; its designation is assumed to be Kh-101. Reportedly, the new ALCM has accuracy of about 12-20 meters, which is a key criterion for strategic conventional weapons.136 It is not inconceivable that the previous Kh-90 program was terminated primarily because an ALCM based on a more traditional design of Kh-55 could not achieve the required accuracy, which would have made it rather useless in the conventional form.

The apparent interest in conventional ALCMs creates ground for many interesting hypotheses. Apparently, Russia is trying to reduce its reliance on nuclear weapons. It is not yet clear whether conventional weapons will play a significant role in the strategic balance: this cannot be ruled out, but the final answer will depend on the ability to sustain and modernize the heavy bomber force over a long time. The shift toward conventional weapons is almost certain at the regional level, especially given the large existing force of Tu-22M3 medium bombers and the decision to modernize them. Conceivably, conventional ALCMs might take the place of tactical nuclear weapons in regional balances: they would be less deadly, but much more effective as a means of deterrence (especially given the strong international norm against the use and even the threat of nuclear weapons).

Still, it is worth repeating that the above represents only informed speculation based on the known history of Soviet heavy bombers and the fact that some research on a new type is underway. Hard data is absent. Most likely, the modernization of heavy bombers will take a long time. The land- and sea-based systems are being given higher priority and, in the absence of sufficient funding, the Tupolev design bureau will limit itself to the preliminary stage for the next few years at least. A group of Russian experts estimated the earliest date when new heavy bombers could be deployed as 2005.137 The significance of the existing information should not be underestimated, however: it definitely shows that Russia has not yet decided to make a transition toward a dyad and might continue to stick to a more conventional, three-component structure for its strategic arsenal.


The analysis above suggests that modernization of Russian strategic forces is driven by a combination of several factors:

Modernization of strategic weapons follows the general rule developed by Andrei Kokoshin when he was still the first deputy minister of defense: "design now--purchase later." The pace is rather relaxed. Only modernization of ICBMs is conducted at present, and even then the number of flight tests of the new missile was limited and it might require additional work in the future. The new SSBN was laid only in late 1996 and will take years to complete, even more to construct several; the missile for this submarine has not been tested yet. New heavy bombers are only on the drawing board.

The pace of modernization suggests that Russia, at least the government and the military leadership, does not see immediate threats today or in the near future and feels comfortable with the slow progress. This permits the government to spend only the absolute politically acceptable minimum on these goals, while the bulk of the budget goes to economic reform and social programs.

Still, modernization of strategic weapons is well ahead of that of the conventional armed forces. This is partially caused by the greater lead-time required for modernization of the former and by the fact that nuclear weapons are perceived to be more important for the country's security. Among conventional weapons, only tactical aircraft are being modernized at a comparable rate, but new planes are intended for the foreign rather than domestic market: the Russian armed forces are not buying aircraft today.

This might be another, no less valid explanation for the differences between the strategic nuclear and conventional modernization. The firms that design and produce conventional weapons could survive by producing weapons for sale abroad, and this is an officially recognized policy. The designers and producers of strategic weapons are limited to the domestic market. Designers could still survive, but producers might disappear by the year 2005, and then, when Russia has the money to purchase missiles and submarines, there will be no one to produce them. Thus, modernization of strategic weapons should out of necessity precede that of conventional weapons.

The current modernization is oriented toward a START II- and III-compliant force. It will be relatively small: 2,000 or less warheads, and will take into account all relevant limitations and prohibitions, at least the ones that exist in START III. The projected force will be also quite stable, by today's criteria, and thus will permit transition toward a pure second-strike strategy. A serious factor of uncertainty is the possible deployment of an NMD system by the United States, which might channel both modernization and strategy into different directions, along the lines of strike-on-warning and increased penetration capability.

All in all, it appears that the modernization of Russia's strategic nuclear forces is proceeding in a positive direction, to the extent that the existence of nuclear weapons is positive. In any event, the tense and dangerous nuclear stalemate of the Cold War is not likely to be repeated, at least as far as Russian strategic weapons are concerned.


51. Additional material concerning the existing strategic forces, the status of arms control treaties and negotiations, as well as-and especially-the domestic political processes in Russia that affect nuclear arms modernization can be found in Nikolai Sokov, Russia's Approach to Deep Reductions of Nuclear Weapons, second edition (Washington: The Henry Stimson Center, Occasional paper 27, September 1997).

52. See A. Dyakov, ed.,Sokraschenie Yadernogo Oruzhiya: Protsess i Problemy (Nuclear Arms Reductions: The Process and Problems) (Moscow: MIPT, 1997), p. 20-22; Dean Wilkening, The Future of Russia's Strategic Nuclear Force, a manuscript, Center for International Security and Arms Control, Stanford University.

53. See Joint Statement on Future Negotiations on Nuclear and Space Arms and Further Enhancing Strategic Stability, adopted by Presidents George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev on June 1, 1990. The data regarding the maximum planned number of warheads on future types obtained from interviews.

54. Topol-M is also known in the West as SS-25M, SS-27, or SS-29. The designation used in the START I Treaty is RS-12M, but this designation is misleading, because the same name is used for Topol (SS-25) road-mobile ICBMs. Currently, the Memorandum of Understanding to START I lists Topol-M as RS- 12M, variant 2 for silo launcher (Topol-M for road-mobile launchers is still under development).

55. Information of the Press Service of the President of the Russian Federation 1997-12-27-001 (available on-line at See also Pavel Anokhin, "Tri Tainy Topolei" (The Three Mysteries of Topols), Rossiiskie Vesti, December 18, 1997, p. 1,2.

56. Vladimir Yakovlev, Novaya Raketno-Yadernaya Filosofiya Rossii XXI via (A New Nuclear-Missile Philosophy of Russia for the 21' Century), Nezavisimaya Gazeta, February 12, 1998, p. 1.

57. One of designers of Topol-M, Lev Solomonov, claimed that Temp-2S was abandoned because of the insistence of the United States, without any serious internal reasons (See interview with Solomonov in Sergei Sokut, Topol-M -Optimalnoe Oruzhie dlia Rossii (Topol-M is an Optimal Weapon for Russia), Nezavisimaya Gazeta, February 6, 1998, p. 6). The same assertion is contained in Igor Pavlov, Komu i Pochemu ne Nravitstya Raketnyi Kompleks Topol? (Who and Why Does Not Like the Missile Complex Topol?), Nezavisimoye Voyennoe Obozrenie, March 15, 1997, p. 6.

58. Yakovlev, op. cit., Nezavisimaya Gazeta, February 12, 1998, p. 1.

59. Memorandum of Understanding, 1 January 1997, Annex F, Section A, paragraph (i). Strictly speaking, 3.3 is not the length of the front section (this data is not provided in the MOU): the figure in the text represents the difference between the total length of the missile as a unit with launch canister with and without front section.

60. Sergei Krylov, "Glavnoe Oruzhie Strany" (The Main Weapon of the Country), A joint issue of Aviatsiya i Kosmonavtika and Tekhnika i Oruzhie, No. 22, 1996.

61. Details of the testing history could be found in a paper of Ivan Safrantchouk, "Topol-M Development Status and Flight Testing," available on-line from the CNS databases at

62. Notification Protocol, Section III, paragraph 1, and Section VII, paragraph 4.

63. Gosudarstvennaya Duma, Stenogramma Zasedanii (The State Duma, A Stenographic Report of Meetings), December 25, 1998, No. 144, p. 9-10.

64. Soviet missile designers certainly did not save on flight tests: memoirs of one of the leading designers of the early Soviet ICBMs, Boris Chertok, are full of stories, how missiles were launched again and again without proper redesigning and checking. Contrary to the traditional image, quality of assembly was often sloppy, but this never prevented another launch. Interviews suggest that the tradition carried on into the 1980s. Often designers would conduct a launch using only one new stage, while the rest was taken from an older type of missile. A simple improvement of the testing procedures and quality control could lead to a radical reduction in the number of Right tests. Litovkin claimed, in the article cited above, that about 150 pilot ground checks were performed at the test range instead of at the plant, as the old procedures dictated, which helped to save nearly two years in terms of testing and 21 billion rubles.

65. Yakovlev, op. cit., Nezavisimaya Gazeta, February 12, 1998, p. 1. Litovkin claimed, in the article cited above, that the new procedures helped to save nearly two years in terms of testing and 21 billion rubles.

66. Yakovlev claimed, however, that all four tests had been successful. (Yakovlev, op. cit., Nezavisimaya Gazeta, February 12, 1998, p. 1).

67. See Dyakov, ed., op. cit., p. 21. Viktor Litovkin, "Russia Has Created a New Strategic Missile, Topol-M," Izvestiya, January 20, 1995, p. 4. The figure for Topol was indirectly confirmed by Lev Rokhlin, the chairman of the Duma Defense Committee: in a recent article he claimed that the "shelf life" of the recently produced missiles is until the year 2008 (Rabochaya Tribuna, June 4, 1997). Since the only recently produced missiles are Topols, this amounts to 10 years of standard life cycle.

68. A. Dyakov, op. cit., p. 28.

69. Alexei Arbatov, "Eurasia Letter: A Russian-US Security Agenda," Foreign Policy, No. 104, Fall 1996, p. 109. Dean Wilkening, however, puts the deployment rate at only 16 missiles per year over the period of 1992-1995 (Dean Wilkening, op. cit., p. 13); the difference might indicate a slight increase in the production rate in the middle of the 1990s.

70. Dyakov, ed., op. cit., p. 28. There is a disagreement on the target numbers, however: B. Makeev mentions 800-900 deployed missiles, referring to the data provided by the unnamed sources in the Russian General Staff (B. Makeev, Voyenno-morskie aspekty natsionalnoi bezopasnosti Rossii (The Naval Aspects of Russia's National Security), Moscow: Committee on Nonproliferation and Critical Technologies, 1997, p. 73).

71. Wilkening, op. cit., p. 12.

72. Sergei Krylov, op. cit.

73. Viktor Litovkin, "Russia Has Created a New Strategic Missile, Topol-M," Izvestiya, January 20, 1995, p. 4.

74. David Fulghum, "Russian Missile Tests Yield Mixed Results," Aviation Week and Space Technology, January 19, 1998, p. 30.

75. Yakovlev, op. cit., Nezavisimaya Gazeta, February 12, 1998, p. 1; Jane's Strategic Systems, Issue 22, September 1996.

76. Dvorkin, "O Polze Diskussii"...

77. Dmitri Litovkin, "Pervenets VPK Rossii" (The First Child of Russia's Military Industrial Complex), Yadernaya Bezopasnost, No. 9- 10 (February-March 1998), p. 6-7. See also Mikhail Petrov, "Topolinaya Pesn," Yadernaya Bezopasnost, No. 9-10 (February-March 1998), p. 4-5.

78. Yakovlev, op. cit., Nezavisimaya Gazeta, February 12, 1998, p. 1.

79. Yakovlev, op. cit., Nezavisimaya Gazeta, February 12, 1998, p. 1.

80. Interview with Solomonov, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, February 6, 1998, p. 6.

81. Pravda, December 30, 1992 and December 31, 1992. For more recent arguments see Rossiiskaya Gazeta, April 1, 1994 and March 28, 1995, and Krasnaya Zvezda, April 15, 1995.

82. For example, see Petr Belov, "Raketno Yadernyi Avantiurizm" (The Nuclear Missile Adventurism), Nezavisimaya Gazeta, February 20, 1998, p. 7.

83. Komsomolskaya Pravda, August 7, 1997, p. 1.

84. SIPRI Yearbook 1992: World Armaments and Disarmament, p. 87.

85. Interview with Solomonov, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, February 6, 1998, p. 6.

86. Interfax, February 4, 1998.

87. E.g., Topol-M is still classified as either SS-27 or SS-29 (see Jane's Strategic Systems, Issue 22, September 1996); as recently as in 1991 no reliable information on Topol-M could be found in the Western open sources.

88. Reportedly, service lives of most currently existing SSBNs will end by the year 2000 (Dyakov, ed., op. cit., p. 22), but they might be extended from 10-15 to 25-30 years, if major repairs are performed every seven-eight years (Ye. Myasnikov, "Buduschee Morskikh Yadernykh Sil Rossii" (The Future of Sea-Based Strategic Nuclear Forces of Russia), More, No. 3, 1996, p. 66-69.)

89. B. Makeev, The Naval Aspect... 73, 74.

90. The name of the new class is Borey or - a parallel designation - Project 955 (see Yu. Kuznetsov, "Morskaya sostavlyayuschaya strategicheskoi triady" (The Sea Component of the Strategic Triad), Nezavisimoye Voyennoe Obozreniye, January 30, 1998, p. 6). There are many problems with the names of Soviet/Russian strategic systems, as in most cases the Soviet designations were kept classified, while special "nicknames" were invented to use in international treaties. For example, the name Typhoon represents a name invented for the use in international treaties; its internal name was Akula (the shark). Borey is the first class, whose name is the same for internal and international use. For internal use, all SSBNs also have a so-called project (type) number: the code for Typhoon was Project 941, for Borey - Project 955. In the case the same type underwent several modifications, the project number is supplemented by letters: Delta III, for example, is Project 667BDR, Delta IV-Project 667BDRM.

91. Worldwide Submarine Challenges (Office of Naval Intelligence, 1997); Izvestiya, October 25, 1996 (Izvestiya, however, gave a different date for the ceremony, October 25); Rossiiskaya Gazeta, November 11, 1996.

92. A. Dokuchaev, "Strategicheskii Front pod Vodoi" (A Strategic Front Beneath the Water), Tekhnika i Vooruzhenie, July 1997, p. 6. The US official estimate of the completion of the work is 2002 (Worldwide Submarine Challenges…).

93. Izvestiya, October 25, 1996.

94. Worldwide Submarine Challenges To confirm, which exactly missile is meant under SS-NX-28, the publication shows its picture, which has all characteristic features of R-39. Thus, the authors clearly demonstrate that by SS-NX-28 they mean a follow-on to that missile.

95. UTTKh stands for "improved tactical and technical characteristics" and is a standard designation for limited modernization of an existing type.

96. Steven Zaloga, The Thunder Inside Russia's Typhoons," Jane's Intelligence Review, December 1996, p. 536.

97. Makeev prefers to classify the new class as Typhoon-M, making clear, however, that the name is chosen for convenience. Makeev, Naval Aspects... p. 74.

98. Designations for SLBMs are probably the most difficult of all offensive strategic weapons. In this case, R-39 represents the internal letter-number code name for the missile, D- 19 refers to the "missile complex" (probably should be correctly translated as "system"), which includes the missile and its launcher. SS-N-20 is the NATO designation. RSM-52 is the "nickname" created for the purposes of the START I Treaty and is never used internally.

99. Krasnaya Zvezda, July 19, 1996.

100. V. Dvorkin, A. Kalyadin, A. Pikaev, "Voenno-Strategicheskie i Mezhdunarodno-Politicheskie Aspecty Dalneishego Sokrascheniya Arsenalov SNV" (The Military-Strategic and International-Political Aspects of Further Reduction of Strategic Arms Arsenals), and Yu. Zuev, G. Kuznetsov, V. Tsvetkov, "Sokraschenie i Ogranichenie Strategicheskikh Nastupatelnykh Vooruzhenii" (Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms) in A. Arbatov, ed., Yadernye Vooruzheniya i Bezopasnost Rossii (Nuclear Weapons and Russian Security), (Moscow: IMEMO, 1997), p. 25, 107.

101. Rossiiskaya Gazeta, November 11, 1996, p. 1,2. The length, 170 meters, is consistent with another source, which puts Borey five meters shorter than Project 941 (175 meters) (A. Dokuchaev, op. cit., p. 6). The figure for the diameter, 10 meters, is questionable: Project 667BDRM is about 16 meters wide and Project 941 - in excess of 20 meters. No existing SLBM could ever fit into an SSBN, whose diameter is only 10 meters: R-39 is 16 meters and R-29M is 14.8 meters (A. Shirokorad, "Rakety nad Morem" (Missiles Over the Sea), Tekhnika i Oruzhie, No. 2, 1996, p. 11). Other sources, surprisingly, give a different figure for Project 941's displacement - 3 3,800 tons (Izvestiya, October 25, 1996, p. 1,2), which would place Borey almost exactly between Projects 941 and 667BDRM.

102. V. Ilyin, "Voenno-Morskoi Flot Rossii na Poroge XXI veka" (The Russian Navy at the Door of the 21" century), Tekhnika i Oruzhie, No. 2, 1997, p. 1.

103. Worldwide Submarine Challenges...

104. Yu. Kuznetsov, op. cit.

105. A. Shirokorad, op. cit., p. 10.

106. Yu. Zuev, G. Kuznetsov, V. Tsvetkov, op. cit., p. 14; Ye. Myasnikov, op. cit.

107. Steven Zaloga, op. cit., p.536. Zuev, Kuznetsov, and Tsvetkov confirm the information about the impact of the breakup of the Soviet Union upon the development of the new SLBM (Zuev, Kuznetsov, Tsvetkov, op. cit., p. 25), but they do not specify, which missile they mean.

108. E.g., Topol-M is being proudly advertised as the first system, which is completely produced in Russia (S. Krylov, op. cit.). This is seen as a major achievement of the last several years.

109. Air and Cosmos/Aviation International (Paris), December 6, 1996, pp. 34-35, in FBIS-UST-97-015 (on-line version).

110. B. Makeev, "Morskie Rakety" (Sea-Based Missiles), in A. Pikaev, ed., Raketnaya Mosch Rossii: Proshloe i Nastoyaschee (The Missile Power of Russia: The Past and the Present), (Moscow: Committee on Critical Technologies and Nonproliferation and Monterey Institute of International Studies, 1996), p. 53.

111. Zuev, Kuznetsov, Tsvetkov, op, cit., p. 14.

112. Jane's electronic version, updated September 1997. Interestingly, they refer to unnamed US intelligence sources, although the Office of Naval Intelligence does not mention that new SLBM.

113. See two pieces by RIA-Novosti, November 20, 1997.

114. Kuznetsov, op. cit.

115. Fulghum, op. cit.

116. Air and Cosmos/Aviation International (Paris), December 6, 1996, pp. 34-35, in FBIS-UST-97-015 (on-line version).

117. Makeev proceeds from the assumption of six warheads per SLBM on the new type. See Makeev, Naval Aspects... p. 77.

118. There is, however, a curious difference between Project 667BDRM and Borey: the former has 16 missile tubes, while the latter-only 12. A really "wild," unsubstantiated, but still plausible prediction would be that all submarines in the Borey class after the first will be carrying 16 SLBMs; in this case it will be easy to distinguish between the one submarine with R-39UTTKh and all the rest with the R-29RM follow-on.

119. Zuev, Kuznetsov, Tsvetkov, op. cit., p. 25.

120. Komsomolskaya Pravda, August 7, 1997, p. 1.

121. Valeri Alexin "Podvodnyi Flot i Natsionalnaya Bezopasnost Rossii" (The Submarine Fleet and Russia's National Security), Nezavisimoe Voennoe Obozrenie, March 20, 1998, p. 4.

122. Alexin projects 15. See Valeri Alexin, op. cit.

123. Ilyin, op. cit.

124. Only 15 percent of submarines have been kept on patrol at any one time during the 1990s (see Zuev, Kuznetsov, Tsvetkov, op. cit., p. 26); during the Soviet period, the figure was 25 percent (Makeev, Sea Missiles, p. 57).

125. Interfax, 28 October 1997.

126. Dvorkin, Kalyadin, Pikaev, op. cit., p. 107-112.

127. RIA-Novosti, June 18, 1997.

128. RIA-Novosti, August 22, 1997.

129. The information, including the photograph, can be found on-line at The source of this information is unknown, and no other source has been found to substantiate the claim.

130. Yadernyi Kontrol, No. 34-35, 1997, pp. 5,6.

131. START I does not provide for significant differences between heavy bombers equipped for nuclear weapons and those equipped for conventional ones. Essentially, reequipment is prevented by the time and expense necessary; if needed, all conventionally armed heavy bombers could be converted in a matter of months, if not weeks. START II adds the right to "redesignate" up to 100 nuclear-armed heavy bombers for conventional missions; in this case no conversion would be necessary at all. In the Soviet Union, however, the differences between heavy bombers with different equipment were much more serious and would have required large-scale expensive conversion at production plants (the distinction emerged as a result of technical and engineering rather than arms control decisions). If Russia would develop an ALCM that could carry both nuclear and conventional warheads, then the START I and II provisions might become more attractive to it.

132. The US B-2 heavy bombers, which incorporate the "stealth" technology were intended for operations inside the Soviet airspace, e.g. to "hunt down" mobile launchers of ICBMs, which were difficult to target from afar in real time.

133. Electronic version of Jane's Weapons Systems database, updated in September 1997.

134. START I classifies ALCMs with the range in excess of 600 km. range as strategic, and those with the shorter range as non-strategic. The decision to have a short-range ALCMs, whether nuclear or conventional, is consistent with the provisions of that treaty and could have been determined by them.

135. Electronic version of Jane's Weapons Systems database, updated in September 1997.

136. Electronic version of Jane's Weapons Systems database, updated in September 1997.

137. Zuev, Kuznetsov, Tsvetkov, op. cit., p. 14. It is interesting that a chapter by Dvorkin a. o. in the same volume proceeds from the premise that production of heavy bombers will not be resumed at all.


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