Target Ukraine: Russia's ICBM strategy revealed

Updated: Feb 22, 2022, 04:43 PM(IST)

Amid Ukraine tensions, Russia successfully test-fired its latest hypersonic ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and nuclear-capable ballistic missiles as part of 'planned exercises'

Yars intercontinental ballistic missile

Russia had launched the Yars intercontinental ballistic missile during a training launch as part of the Grom-2022 Strategic Deterrence Force exercise at an undefined location in Russia.

Russia successfully test-fired its latest hypersonic ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and nuclear-capable ballistic missiles as part of "planned exercises," the Kremlin said as tensions soar over Ukraine.

"All the missiles hit their targets, confirming their performance objectives", the Kremlin said.

The drills included Tu-95 bombers and submarines as President watched the drills. General Gerasimov said the massive use of strategic offensive weapons of the Russian Federation was mainly for a "retaliatory strike".

Russia plans to hold more than ten launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) this year, General Sergey Karakayev had said last year amid tensions with Ukraine.


25 ICBM launches were held in the past five years

According to Russian General Sergey Karakayev, 25 ICBM launches were held in the past five years. Kremlin said that the launch of ballistic missiles was a "fairly regular training process".

Tensions between the West and Russia over Ukraine and European security have been made worse by large-scale military exercises near Kyiv's borders and also in Belarus.

Amid tensions, Lithuanian troops had left for Ukraine last week to train local forces in the use of US-made anti-aircraft missile systems, which the Baltic state provided amid fears of a Russian invasion as Vilnius delivered the short-range Stinger missile systems to Ukraine on Sunday after Washington approved the transfer of American weapons to Kyiv amid mounting tensions.


Avangard hypersonic warheads

According to Russia's TASS news agency, the second regiment of UR-100N UTTKh intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with the Avangard hypersonic warheads will assume combat alert in Russia’s Strategic Missile Force before the end of the year.

The second regiment of the Avangard hypersonic missile system will take position in the Yasny missile formation, the news agency said.

The first regiment had taken command post in late 2019 and was put to full strength in 2021. The Avangard hypersonic weapon was first mentioned by Russian President Vladimir Putin in March 2018.


Russia's ICBM force

According to a US Congress report, Russia's Strategic Rocket Forces currently has three missile armies which in turn comprise 11 missile divisions.

The Russian Federation maintains a triad of nuclear forces consisting of ICBMs, SLBMs and heavy bombers. Russia deploys its strategic nuclear forces at more than a dozen bases across its territory, the report said.

Russia’s ICBM force currently comprises 310 missiles that can carry up to 1,189 warheads. Clearly, Russia's overwhelming military strength can easily overpower Ukraine greatly worrying Western officials.

Russia is also developing a new heavy ICBM known as the Sarmat (SS-X-30).


Putin's 'invincible weapons'

Last year in December, President Vladimir Putin had informed that the Russian military had successfully fired a simultaneous salvo of its Zircon hypersonic missiles, calling it "a big event" for the country. 

It was the first time that Russian authorities reported a successful simultaneous launch test of several Zircon missiles.

The announcement was made even as Russian troops were massing along Ukraine's border. As world powers race to develop advanced weaponry, Russia has carried out a number of successful tests of its Zircon hypersonic cruise missile.

Putin said that the salvo launch of the missile had been conducted overnight hailing it as "immaculate".


Putin's US concern

Russia, the United States, France and China have all been experimenting with so-called hypersonic glide vehicles — defined as reaching speeds of at least Mach 5.

Putin revealed the development of the new weapon in a state of the nation address in February 2019, saying it could hit targets at sea and on land within a range of 1,000 kilometres at a speed of Mach 9.

Putin has voiced concern in particular over what he said was US missile deployments in Poland and Romania, countries he said would soon be capable of launching Tomahawk cruise missiles.

The Russian president had said new arsenal of hypersonic missiles that he has previously described as "invincible" were nearing combat readiness.


'Dagger': Destroy high-value targets

According to the Centre for Strategic and International Studies(CSIS), Kinzhal has been deployed on a squadron of MiG-31Ks in the southern military district and the western military district is set to receive the hypersonic weapon in the near future.

The missile known as the "Dagger” is an Air-launched Ballistic Missile (ALBM) with a payload of 480 kgs. It has a range of 1,500-2,000 km and was reportedly put in service in 2017.

The Kinzhal is typically described as a weapon intended to destroy high-value ground targets, such as missile defence sites, CSIS said in its study.

(Photo courtesy: Russian Aerospace Forces)


Iskander-M short-range ballistic missile

According to reports, Russia has parked the  Iskander-M short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) systems near the Ukraine border amid escalating tensions.

Reports from Ukraine defence ministry said at least 36 Iskander launchers are now put along the border. Several reports indicated the Iskander ballistic missiles were being transported by train with photos on social media.

On Wednesday, the Russian defence ministry had released a video showing Iskander missile systems taking part in drills conducted in the western military district bordering Europe.

The scheduled exercises were aimed to check the troops' battle readiness, and will continue till January 29.


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