In grand finale, Russia tests massive ICBM during European wargames

The Russian Ministry of Defense announced on September 20th that it had successfully tested one of its newest intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The solid-fuel RS-24 YARS ICBM can be equipped with a nuclear warhead and was fired from Plesetsk and reached the Kura range site in Kamchatka Krai, the ministry of defense said.

“All … tasks have been fully accomplished,” the ministry of defense said.

The distance between the Plesetsk Cosmodrome and the Kura test range in Kamchatka Krai is more than 5,000 miles.

The launch was done in conjunction with the Zapad-2017 war game exercises, which Russia completed Wednesday, according to The National Interest.

Russia also test fired a silo-based YARS ICBM with an “experimental warhead” on Sept. 12, according to TASS, while Wednesday’s launch was from a mobile unit.

“It is not clear what these new ‘experimental’ Russian reentry vehicles (RV) are,” The National Interest reported, adding that it’s possible that it was a maneuvarable reentry vehicle designed to allude missile defense systems.

Despite Russia signing the New START Treaty with the US in 2010, which limited the number of nuclear warheads both countries could build, Moscow continues to increase its stockpile, according to Defense One.

“The aggregate data shows that Russia has continued to increase its deployed strategic warheads since 2013 when it reached its lowest level of 1,400 warheads. Russian strategic launchers now carry 396 warheads more,” Hans M. Kristensen, of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, wrote last year, according to Defense One.

The RS-24 YARS ICBM from Russia travels through the streets on it's first night rehearsal in Moscow in 2015. (Image Vitaly V. Kuzmin)

The RS-24 YARS ICBM from Russia travels through the streets on it’s first night rehearsal in Moscow in 2015. (Image Vitaly V. Kuzmin)

Here’s what the RS-24 YARS ICBM can do.

  • Russia began developing the three-stage solid-propellant RS-24 YARS ICBM in 2004. It was first tested in 2007, and entered service in 2010.
  • The YARS was first launched from mobile launcher vehicles, but as of 2014, it can be fired from silos.
  • It’s equipped with 3 MIRV nuclear warheads, each with a payload of 2,647 pounds. A MIRV (multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle) is a ballistic missile with multiple warheads, all capable of hitting different targets.
  • Each warhead carries about 150-200 kT of energy.
  • The YARS has a maximum range of just over 6,500 miles and a minimum range of over 1,240 miles.
  • The diameter of the first-stage is believed to be about 6.5 feet. The second-stage is about 5.9 feet and the third-stage is about 5.25 feet.
  • It’s believed to be over 68 feet long.
  • It’s launch weight is believed to be nearly 109,350 pounds.
  • And it’s also believed to have a newer reentry vehicle that can elude missile defense systems.