Despite its general secrecy, the Russian ministry of defense is part of the bureaucratic machine and has to live by its rules, which means that quite a few transactions leave an interesting paper trail. There are a few people in Russia who mastered the art of combing through government documents, annual reports of various defense companies, and court decisions - there is all kind of information there. This time, one Russian blogger, who is very good at this, found a tender to insure missile launches that the ministry of defense will conduct in 2016-2017 (here is the announcement at

According to the documents, the ministry of defense is planning 12 launches in 2016-2017. Seven are RS-12 (which is Topol, but it may be Topol-M as well), three are RS-24 (Yars), one RS-26, and one - RS-18 (UR-100NUTTH or SS-19).

As far as I can tell, it's the liability insurance that would cover damages to third parties should anything go wrong. The missiles do not seem to be covered. Insurance coverage for Topol (or Topol-M), RS-24, and RS-26 launches is identical - 180 million rubles (about $2.3 million today), but for RS-18/UR-100NUTTH/SS-19 the coverage is much higher - 1.2 billion rubles (about $15.6 million). Which is probably not surprising - about the only reason to launch a UR-100NUTTH missile is to test the Project 4202 vehicle. Unlike all other launches, this kind of a test can do more damage on the ground if anything goes wrong. (On the other hand, the coverage for space launches is higher still - from 4.5 billion to 6 billion rubles.) In any event, it is highly probable that Russia is planning one Project 4202 test in 2016-2017.

It is also interesting to compare this information with the 2016 launch plan announced in January 2016. The commander of the Strategic Rocket Forces said that his service will conduct 14 launches in 2016 alone. Judging by the experience of the past few years, it is likely that the number will be somewhere around eight, which is perfectly compatible with the information in the tender.

Meanwhile, the information about the upcoming launch of RS-26 was confirmed earlier today by a source in the industry - the launch is expected in the second quarter of this year.