SS-27 “Sickle B” (RT-2PM2 Topol-M)

The SS-27 “Sickle B”, or RT-2PM2 “Topol-M”, is a Russian solid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missile with a range of 11,000 km.1

Topol-M at a Glance

Originated From: Russia
Possessed By: Russia
Alternate Name: SS-27 Mod 1, Sickle B, Topol-M, RS-12M1, RS-12M2, RT-2PM2
Class: Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM)
Basing: Road-mobile, Silo-based
Length: 21.9 m
Diameter: 1.9 m
Launch Weight: 47,000 kg
Payload: Single warhead, 1,200 kg
Warhead: Nuclear 500 kT
Propulsion: Three-stage solid propellant
Range: 11,000 km
Status: Operational
In Service: 1997

topol-mThe development of the Topol-M, began in the late 1980s as an upgraded version of the SS-25, though it was redesigned in 1992 as the first missile designed and built by the Russian Federation (as opposed to a Soviet design). The first test launch occurred in December 1994 with the first testing of the TEL vehicle version nearly six years later.2

The first Topol-M missiles entered service in 1997 in modified SS-19 silos. The first silo missile regiment was declared operational in 1998, with a second in 1999, a third in 2000 and a fourth in 2003. The first road-mobile versions entered service in 2006.3

Production was originally scheduled for 350 missiles, though these numbers have subsequently been lowered several times, and in 2009 Russia announced that Topol-M production was completed, saying any future missiles produced would be RS-24’s, a similar missile design.4

Following the implementation of New START, Russia possessed 15 road-mobile, and 50 silo-based Topol-Ms.5 According to a 2013 U.S. report, there were approximately 80 operational missiles. 6

The Topol-M’s RV is capable of making evasive maneuvers as it approaches its target. It likely also carries countermeasures and decoys to decrease the chances of interception by missile defenses. The missile is shielded against radiation, electromagnetic interference and physical disturbance; whilst previous missiles could be disabled by detonating a nuclear warhead within ten kilometers. 7

It is reported to typically be equipped with a 550 kT yield nuclear warhead; however, there an unconfirmed report suggest a yield of 1 MT has been achieved, as well as the placement of up to six MIRV warheads. It uses a Post-Boost Vehicle (PBV) system to deploy its warhead(s) using a digital inertial navigation system with a GLOSNASS (equivalent to Global Position Satellite) receiver. It has a launch weight of 47,200 kg with a length of 21.9 m, first stage width of 1.95 m, second stage width of 1.61 m, and a third stage width of 1.58 m.8

In 2016, Russia has 18 road-mobile Topol-M launchers deployed, along with 60 more deployed in fixed silos. 9

The RS-24 (Yars) ICBM, although categorized by Russia as a distinct missile system, is sometimes classified as an SS-27 variant, dubbed the SS-27 Mod 2.

    1. 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
    2. “RS-12M 1/2 Topol M (RT-2PM2)” in IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic 2015-2016, ed. James C. O’Halloran (United Kingdom: IHS, 2015), 93-94.
    3. 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
    4. “RS-12M 1/2 Topol M (RT-2PM2)” in IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic 2015-2016, ed. James C. O’Halloran (United Kingdom: IHS, 2015), 93-94.
    5. Amy F. Woolf, “Nuclear Arms Control: The Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty,” (CRS Report No. RL31448) (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, January 12, 2010)
    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. “RS-12M 1/2 Topol M (RT-2PM2)” in IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic 2015-2016, ed. James C. O’Halloran (United Kingdom: IHS, 2015), 93-94.
    8. “RS-12M 1/2 Topol M (RT-2PM2)” in IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic 2015-2016, ed. James C. O’Halloran (United Kingdom: IHS, 2015), 93-94.
    9. Hans M. Kristensen & Robert S. Norris (2016) Russian nuclear forces, 2016, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 72:3, 125-134, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00963402.2016.1170359.