Knyaz Vladimir, the fourth Borey-class submarine and the first ship of the Project 955A class, was officially handed over to the navy. It is expected to formally join the Northern Fleet in June 2020.

Construction of the submarine began in July 2012, although some work appears to have started as early as 2009. (see a detailed history of construction at the CAST blog).

According to defense industry sources quoted by TASS, the industry began construction of prototypes of the PAK DA strategic bomber. Construction of the first aircraft is expected to be completed in 2021.

The PAK DA project goes back to 2009, when Tupolev Design Bureau began R&D on the project. In 2011, the Long-Range Aviation drew its set of requirements for the new aircraft. The contract to develop the plane was signed with the Tupolev Design Bureau in 2014 (other sources suggest 2017). The current plan is to build three prototype aircraft and to complete the program of tests in 2023-2025.

On May 22, 2020 at 10:31 MSK (07:31 UTC), the Air and Space Forces successfully launched a Soyuz-2.1b launcher from the launch pad No. 4 of the launch complex No. 43 of the Plesetsk site. The satellite delivered to the orbit (by a Fregat booster) will join the space-based segment of the early-warning system.

The satellite was designated Cosmos-2546. Its international designation is 2020-031A.

The satellite is the fourth spacecraft of the new early-warning system, known as EKS or Kupol. The first satellite of the system, Cosmos-2510, was launched in November 2015. The second and third, Cosmos-2518 and Cosmos-2541, were launched in May 2017 and September 2019 respectively. Satellites are deployed on Molniya-type highly elliptical orbits and are said to be capable of detecting launches from all potential missile launch areas. The complete system is expected to include ten satellites on HEO and GEO orbits.

Nudol20200415.jpeg A few days ago Russia issued a NOTAM notice that suggested that it will conduct a test of the Nudol ASAT system on April 15, 2020. And indeed it did. The missile was launched from the Plesetsk test site.

U.S. Space Command issued a statement in which is said that it "is aware and tracking Russia's direct-ascent anti-satellite (DA-ASAT) missile test April 15."

Previous Nudol test appears to have taken place in November 2019.

The U.S. State Department released aggregate New START numbers from the 1 March 2020 data exchange. Russia declared 1326 deployed warheads, 485 deployed launchers, and 754 total launchers. In September 2019 the numbers were 1426, 513, and 757 respectively.

The drop in the number of deployed warheads is quite notable (although not unprecedented), but all it would take is standing down one R-36M2 regiment. Given the change in the number of deployed launcher, it appears that quite a few Topol ICBMs have been withdrawn from service as well.

The U.S. numbers in March 2020 were 1373 warheads, 655 deployed and 800 total launchers (1376, 668, and 800 in September 2019).

Speaking of New START, a few days earlier Russia and the United States agreed to postpone their inspections and the BCC session because of the COVID-19 crisis. They did manage to conduct 2 inspections each since February 5, 2020 (out of the annual quota of 18).

The Air and Space Forces performed a successful launch of a Soyuz-2.1b rocket from the launch pad No. 4 of the launch complex No. 43 of the Plesetsk space launch site. The launch took place at 21:28 MSK (18:28 UTC) on March 16, 2020. The satellite that the rocket and its Fregat boost stage delivered into orbit is a Glonass-M navigation satellite. The satellite has been designated Cosmos-2545. It received international designation 2020-018A and was registered by NORAD as object No. 45358.

Previous Glonass launch took place in December 2019.

On 20 February 2020 at 11:24 MSK (08:24 UTC) the Space Forces successfully launched a Soyuz-2.1a launcher from the launch pad No. 3 of the launch complex No. 43 of the Plesetsk space launch site. The launcher, equipped with a Fregat booster stage, delivered into orbit a new military communication satellite of the Meridian-M type.

The satellite's NORAD number is 45254. Its international designation is 2020-015A. The satellite is known as Meridian 9. Previous Meridian launch took place in July 2019.

The ministry of defense asked NPOmash to extend the service life of the UR-100NUTTH/SS-19 missiles, so they could be used as launchers in the Avangard system.

The report says that the last extension, to 36 years, was done in May 2019, but as far as I can tell, this was done in 2014. There were no life-extension reports after that (which doesn't mean that it hasn't been done, though).

In any event, the previous extension was probably quite different from the upcoming one - it was about service life of missiles that have been fueled and deployed. The ones that will be used for Avangard are those 30 "dry" missiles received from Ukraine some time ago. An extension would still be necessary, of course, and my guess is that these missiles have quite a few years in them.

According to the press department of the defense ministry, the Strategic Rocket Forces conducted five ICBM launches in 2019 - three from Plesetsk and two from Kapustin Yar. In 2020 the Rocket Forces are planning to conduct six ICBM launches, five of them from Plesetsk.

The two launches from Kapustin Yar are the Topol-E launches on 26 July 2019 and on 28 November 2019. The three launches from Plesetsk are the Yars launch from a mobile TEL in February 2019, the launch of a Topol-M from a silo in September 2019, and the launch of a mobile Yars in October 2019, during the Grom-2019 exercise.

According to a source in the defense industry, Knyaz Vladimir, the fourth Borey-class submarine and the first ship of the Project 955A class, will join the fleet "in the fist half of the year 2020." The submarine was undergoing sea trials, that included a launch of a Bulava missile in October 2019. It was expected to join the Northern Fleet at the end of 2019.

Construction of Knyaz Vladimir started in 2012.