SS-25 (RS-12M Topol)

The SS-25 Sickle (RS-12M Topol) is an intercontinental-range, road-mobile, solid propellant ballistic missile system. The RS-12M was nominally developed as an updated RS-12 Mod 2, due to restrictions on the number of “new” missiles that could be developed under the START II treaty. SS-25 is actually based on the Temp-2S and Pioneer road-mobile missiles. 1

Topol at a Glance

Originated From: Russia
Possessed By: Russia
Alternate Name: Sickle, RS-12M, RT-2PM, Topol
Class: Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM)
Basing: Road-mobile
Length: 20.5
Diameter: 1.6m (first), 1.55 m (second), 1.34 m (third)
Launch Weight: 45,100 kg
Payload: Single warhead, 1,000 kg
Warhead: Nuclear, 550-800 kT
Propulsion: Three-stage solid propellant + post boost vehicle
Range: 10,500-11,000 km
Status: Operational
In Service: 1988-present, undergoing retirement

topol The SS-25 delivers a payload of 1,000 kg, with a single warhead, up to a range of 11,000 km. 2 The warhead uses a Post-Boost Vehicle (PBV) system, which grants higher accuracy to its single warhead. 3 The system uses a digital computer controlled inertial navigation system which provides an accuracy of 900 m CEP, and is cold-launched from a canister on a wheeled Transporter-Erector-Launcher (TEL) vehicle. 4

The SS-25 entered development in 1977, with flight tests occurring in between 1983-87. The missile was officially commissioned into service 1988, with 288 missiles deployed at nine sites by 1991. Production is believed to have ceased in 1994, with a total of 450 SS-25 missiles have been built. 5 As of 2013, there were approximately 150 missiles in operational status. 6

The SS-25 is undergoing a phased retirement as part of Russia’s nuclear modernization program. The missile is being replaced by the SS-27 “Topol-M” ICBM. As of 2016, Russia deploys an estimated 90 SS-25 launchers. 7 At its current rate of retirement, SS-25 will likely be completely out of service in the 2022 timeframe.

Sources

  1. Pavel Podvig, ed., Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2001), 220.
  2. National Air and Space Intelligence Center, U.S. Air Force, “Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat,” 2013, http://fas.org/programs/ssp/nukes/nuclearweapons/NASIC2013_050813.pdf
  3. “RS-12M Topol” in IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic 2015-2016, ed. James C. O’Halloran (United Kingdom: IHS, 2015), 90-91.
  4. Pavel Podvig, ed., Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2001), 220.
  5. “RS-12M Topol” in IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic 2015-2016, ed. James C. O’Halloran (United Kingdom: IHS, 2015), 90-91.
  6. National Air and Space Intelligence Center, U.S. Air Force, “Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat,” 2013, http://fas.org/programs/ssp/nukes/nuclearweapons/NASIC2013_050813.pdf
  7. Hans M. Kristensen & Robert S. Norris (2016) Russian nuclear forces, 2016, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 72:3, 128, http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00963402.2016.1170359.
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