It appears that we have the final number of ballistic missiles deployed in 2014. According to Sergey Shoigu, Russia's strategic forces received 38 intercontinental missiles this year. Of these, 22 are SLBMs, so the number of ICBMs is 16.
This confirms the earlier reports about 16 ICBMs deployed in 2014. As for SLBMs, we know that Yuri Dolgorukiy has the full complement of 16 missiles on board. This leaves six more SLBMs to account for. It's not clear if the tree missiles expended in flight tests in 2014 are included in the total - they probably should be. In any event, the second and third submarines of the Project 955 class - Alexander Nevskiy and Vladimir Monomakh - don't seem to be loaded yet.
In 2015 the strategic forces will receive "more than 50 missiles" - this number includes SLBMs on Alexander Nevskiy and Vladimir Monomakh and ICBMs in four regiments. Taking into account the three SLBMs that have been delivered in 2014, it would take additional 29 Bulava SLBMs to arm these two submarines. Six RS-24 ICBMs will bring the silo-based regiment in Kozelsk to full force. Arming three mobile RS-4 (and/or RS-26) regiments will, strictly speaking, require 27 missiles, but one of these regiments might be the one in Nizhniy Tagil, which already has six ICBMs, so the total mobile RS-24 count might be 21. And at least one regiment might be still incomplete by the end of 2014, so it could be, say, 15 or 18, so the total 2015 missile count would be somewhere between 50 and 53 (29 Bulava SLBMs + 6 silo RS-24 + 15-18 mobile RS-24).
On December 19, 2014 the Space and Air Defense Forces carried out a successful launch of a Strela space launcher from the silo No. 175 of the launch site No. 59 of the Baykonur space launch site. The launch took place at 07:43 MSK (04:43 UTC). The satellite that the rocket successfully delivered into orbit is a Kondor-E imaging satellite that was built and launched for a foreign customer, reportedly for South Africa.
The satellite was registered by NORAD as an object 40353, it received international designation 2014-084A. According to the NORAD data (see Zarya.info), the satellite is deployed in a nearly circular orbit with altitude of about 500 km and inclination of 74.75 degrees. The orbital period of the satellite is 94.6 min.
The Strela launcher is a converted UR-100NUTTH/SS-19 missile. The launch may be counted as one of the two ballistic missile launches that were expected to be carried out in December 2014.
Previous (and the first) Strela/Kondor launch took place in June 2013.
The commander of the Space Command, Major-General Oleg Maidanovich, reported today that four new early-warning radars - in Yeniseysk, Barnaul, Irkutsk, and Kaliningrad - are now on combat or "experimental combat" duty.
Voronezh-DM radars in Yeniseysk and Barnaul are relatively new, so they are probably in "experimental combat" mode (yes, they are, according to the minister of defense). Voronezh-M in Irkutsk (also known as Voronezh-VP in Mishelevka), was reported to be working in "experimental" mode since 2012, so it is probably fully operational now. The Voronezh-DM in Kaliningrad was said to be working in "experimental" mode in June 2014. (According to Shoygu, Irkutsk and Kaliningrad are in full combat mode now.)
For an update of the locations and sectors covered by the new radars, see the September post.
The Ekaterinburg submarine of the Project 667BDRM/Delta IV class and Vladimir Monomakh, the third submarine of the Project 955 Borey class, joined the fleet today. The Ekaterinburg was repaired at the Zvezdochka plant after the December 2011 fire on board. Vladimir Monomakh is a new submarine - Sevmash started its construction in March 2006.
Ekaterinburg will be based at the Northern Fleet base in Gadzhiyevo, Vladimir Monomakh and the other submarine of the Project 955, Alexander Nevskiy, are expected to arrive to the permanent base in Vilyuchinsk, at Kamchatka, by the end of this year.
The commander of the Strategic Rocket Forces confirmed that his service will receive 16 RS-24 Yars missiles in 2014 - six missiles short of the original plan. Twelve mobile missiles will join the Novosibirsk and Nizhniy Tagil divisions, and four silo-based ones - the division in Kozelsk. In 2015, the Rocket Forces expect to receive 24 RS-24 Yars ICBMs.
Commander of the Strategic Rocket Forces, Sergey Karakayev was reported as saying that the first "experimental" Sarmat ICBMs will be delivered to the RVSN in 2015. It's not quite clear what this means, but it seems likely that the missile will make some sort of appearance in 2015 - probably in a flight test.
A year ago, the Strategic Rocket Forces announced the plan to conduct 16 ICBM launches in 2014. Now it is time to see how many missiles were actually launched. According to the commander of the Rocket Forces, there were eight launches in 2014 so far and two more will take place later in December.
The breakdown of the 16 launches in the 2014 plan was as follows: two launches to extend service life of existing missiles, eleven launches as part of "experimental work on development of missiles, combat payloads, and missile defense penetration measures", a space launch, a launch to test a serial production missile, and a combat training launch.
The "serial production" and "combat training" launches are most likely the April 4, 2014 launch of RS-24 from Plesetsk and the Topol launch during the exercise on May 8, 2014. The latter was also used to confirm the service life of the missile, but it's probably in the training launch category.
The test of a silo-based Topol-M on November 1, 2014 is probably the only one in the category of launches used to extend service life of a missile.
Of the "experimental work and development" launches, there are only two Topol-E launches from Kapustin Yar that seem to be in this category - on March 4, 2104 and on May 20, 2014. It appears that Russia was planning the total of three Topol-E launched from Kapustin Yar in 2014, but there were no news on the third launch.
These are all officially announced ICBM launches - there are seven of them, not eight, which means that one is missing. Last year, there was a similar discrepancy - Karakayev said that the Rocket Forces conducted eight launches, but only seven were publicly accounted for. At that time it was suspected that the eight launch was a test of the UR-100NUTTH missile conducted some time in September 2013, probably from Dombarovskiy. But this has never been confirmed and reports about the September test were rather sketchy. It's possible, though, that there was a similar unannounced launch in 2014 as well - it's just that this time no information has leaked. Or maybe it was the third Topol-E launch from Kapustin Yar that went unreported.
The two remaining launches will probably fall in the "experimental" category. One is expected to be a launch of the RS-26 Rubezh missile. We will have to wait and see what is the other one. But in any event, it is clear that the Rocket Forces will not get to the 16 launches.
The 2015 plans are quite ambitious again - 14 launches total. Of these, nine will be "experimental and development", one "serial production" launch, and four in the categories of space launches and life extension (no further breakdown was given).
The Strategic Rocket Forces will receive a new rail-mobile ICBM after all. The new missile system, named Barguzin, is being developed by the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology.
The institute began working on the missile in 2013 and so far the project seems to be moving forward without delay. It appears that the MITT is confident that it could complete the development quite quickly and prepare the missile for deployment as early as 2018.
The word is that the scale of deployment of the new missile will be quite limited - no more than one division, which means 9 or 12 missiles. I'm not sure that this would justify the development cost.
In case you are wondering, barguzin is a strong eastern wind on Lake Baykal. It's also a river there, but I guess it's the wind that the designers had in mind.