Russia may develop a non-nuclear precision-guided payload capability for its new hundred-ton class liquid-fueled ICBM if need be, Strategic Missile Forces (RSVN) Commander Col. Gen. Sergei Karakayev said on Friday.
“The availability of a powerful liquid-fueled ICBM allows us the capability of creating a strategic high-accuracy weapons system with a conventional payload with practically global range, if the US does not pull back from its program for creating such missile systems,” he said.
The new liquid-fuel ICBM will be able to penetrate any missile defense system likely to emerge in the near future, he said.
“The higher energy provided by liquid fuels gives it more varied and effective methods of countermeasures against global missile defense screens including space-based elements of those systems,” he said.
Analysts say arming ICBMs with conventional warheads for long-range attack might produce problems as well as solutions.
“A conventionally-armed ICBM was one option considered as part of Washington’s Prompt Global Strike studies,” said Douglas Barrie, air warfare analyst at the London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies. “The advantages of reach and speed are self-apparent, however, the issue of differentiating between a nuclear and a conventional warhead once the system was launched but prior to impact raises a concern of how those targeted might respond,” he added.
Russia is developing a solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) to replace all its current “fifth-generation” long-range missile systems including the Yars and Topol M, Karakayev said.
The RSVN has carried out a small number of test-firings of a prototype of the new missile, the last of which was carried out from the Kapustin Yar range on October 24 from a mobile launcher.
“This missile was built with maximal use of technologies developed in the course of producing fifth-generation systems in order to get it into service more quickly and reduce costs,” he said.
Karakayev said it was too early to discuss details of such work for “cleary obvious reasons” but added “the results of the launches show that the makers of this missile technology are clearly on the right track.”
It is the first formal announcement from the RSVN command that the fifth-generation solid-fueled ICBM would be deployed; but previously unnamed sources had said it would be deployed by 2014.