On July 29, 2014 Sevmash Shipyard laid down fifth strategic submarine of the Project 955/Project 955A series.
The new submarine, Knyaz Oleg, is the second submarine of the Project 955A class. The first one, Knyaz Vladimir, was laid down in July 2012. These submarines will eventually join three Project 955 submarines - Yuri Dolgorukiy, Alexander Nevskiy, and Vladimir Monomakh.
Vladimir Monomakh just completed its state acceptance trials, which began in June 2014.
According to a report in Kommersant, Russia will launch a new-generation early-warning satellite, codenamed Tundra and identified as 14F142, by the end of 2014. The launch will begin deployment of a new system, EKS (Edinaya Kosmicheskaya Systema, Integrated Space System), which will provide early-warning as well as some other functions (probably space surveillance or, as some suggested, secure communication). Kommersant reports that the satellite will be delivered into orbit by a Soyuz-2.1b launcher with a Fregat booster stage. According to the report, the new system will have true look-down capability and will detect missiles launches originated from the sea as well as from the U.S. territory. Tundra will be deployed on a highly-elliptical orbit, but earlier reports suggested that the complete system could include geostationary satellites as well.
EKS will replace satellites of the old US-KS and US-KMO systems - as of June 2014 only two 73D6 spacecraft of the US-KS (Oko) system, deployed on highly-elliptical orbits, were operational. The last 71Kh6 geostationary satellite of the US-KMO system was lost in March-April 2014.
On July 3, 2014 at 16:43:52 MSK (12:43:52 UTC) the Space Forces conducted a successful launch of a Rockot space launcher with Briz-KM booster stage from the launch pad No. 3 of the launch complex No. 133 of the Plesetsk test site. The three spacecraft delivered into orbit are Gonets-M communication satellites (Nos. 18, 19, and 20).
The satellites have been assigned NORAD catalog numbers 40061, 40062, and 40063, their international designations are 2014-036A, 2014-036B, and 2014-036C.
Previous Rockot launch, with Strela/Rodnik satellites took place in May 2014. The most recent Gonets-M launch was in September 2013. It also used the Rockot launcher, which is a converted UR-100NUTTH ICBM.
Russian press is quoting an unnamed source in the General Staff as saying that the first RS-26 ballistic missiles will be deployed at the Irkutsk missile division in 2015. Flight tests of the missile are expected to be completed in December 2014. The deployment date has been mentioned before, but the place is new.
Deployment in Irkutsk is probably somewhat surprising. It was often assumed that because of its intermediate range RS-26 is a missile fir Europe - sort of new incarnation of SS-20. Irkutsk, however, is pretty far from Europe, so if we assume that RS-26 has a range on the order of 5000 km, then the deployment appears to be directed at China. This would be generally in line with Russia's complains about the INF Treaty - the main one being that other countries (including China) are allowed to have them while Russia and the United States are not. But if I were the Chinese I would not consider this deployment a particularly friendly gesture.
Irkutsk used to be one of the Topol/SS-25 divisions, but these missiles have been withdrawn from the division for some time. Some may still remain, but they are likely to be gone very soon. Indeed, at the basing area of one of the regiments (below) all Krona shelters (used by Topol) have been dismantled, but the base looks active otherwise.
Russia's only geostationary early-warning satellite, Cosmos-2479, launched in March 2012, has ceased operations. In March-April 2014 the satellite did not perform its regular station-keeping maneuver and, according to Kommersant, was formally declared nonoperational by the ministry of defense in April 2014.
Cosmos-2479 was a satellite of the 71Kh6 type that was developed as part of the US-KMO early-warning system, which was supposed to provide complete coverage of the northern hemisphere. However, the system never reached operational status and Cosmos-2479 was said to be the last 71Kh6 spacecraft. It was deployed at the point 166E (after a brief stop at 80E) and apparently worked with the Eastern Command Center that became operational in April 2012.
The Voronezh-DM early-warning radar in the Kaliningrad region reportedly began "experimental combat duty" and is expected to achieve full combat readiness in about three months, in September-October 2014.
The radar was first reported to begin operations in November 2011, although at the time it could not operate at full capacity. By the end of 2012, however, it did participate in the space surveillance network.
On June 19, 2014 the Strategic Rocket Forces with the support of the Kosmotras company carried out a successful launch of a Dnepr space launcher from the Yasnyy launch site at the Dombarovsky missile division. The launch took place at 23:11:11 MSK (19:11:11 UTC). The payload delivered into orbit included 33 satellites.
The Dnepr launcher is a converted R-36MUTTH/RS-20B/SS-18 missile. Previous Dnepr launch took place in November 2013. This appears to be the (single) space launch that was included by the Strategic Rocket Forces in their 2014 launch plan.
The two Dombarovsky silos that were used in Dnepr launches have been identified as follows:
1/1 - 51°03'56.19"N, 59°41'37.75"E - First two Dnepr launches
1/3 - 50°58'21.69"N, 59°33'04.01"E - Other Dnepr launches
The Strategic Rocket Forces released an update on the missile life extensions. Service life of R-36M2/SS-18 is said to be extended to 27 years, Topol/SS-25 - to 26 years. Also, the Rocket Forces expect UR-100NUTTH to serve 36 years and Topol-M - at least 15 years (this is likely to be extended later).
These numbers don't quite match what the Rocket Forces said before. Back in 2012, R-36M2 was said to be good for 30 years. Moreover, it was hoped that the missile could stay in service for 33 years. It is down to 27 years now. I wouldn't rule out that the reduction was a result of the recent events in Ukraine, which made it more difficult to count on Yuzhmash representatives to service the missiles.
Topol seems to get a cut as well - with the 26 years service life it would remain on duty until about 2018 - the last missiles were deployed in 1992. Earlier it was expected to remain active until 2021. It's possible, however, that some Topol missiles were manufactured and deployed after 1992, so it may well be that it would indeed stay until 2021.
The confidence in UR-100NUTTH, on the other hand, seems to be growing - it got an extension from 35 (reported in December 2013) to 36 years.
On June 14, 2014 the Space and Air Defense Forces performed a successful launch of a Soyuz-2.1b rocket from the launch complex No. 43 of the Plesetsk space launch site. The launch took place at 21:17 MSK (21:17 UTC). The satellite that the rocket and its Fregat boost stage delivered into orbit is a Glonass-M navigation satellite.
The satellite received international designation 2014-032A and was registered by NORAD as object 40001. There was no official information about its Cosmos designation, but it appears that the satellites was designated Cosmos-2500.
Previous Glonass-M launch took place in March 2014.