At his press-conference a few days ago Yuri Solomonov, the chief designer of the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology, did not say anything really new - just his usual praise of Topol-M and Bulava missiles. But he made one interesting point, which may indicate that there is more to the story of new missile development in Russia than meets the eye.

Solomonov underscored that it does not make sense to develop new liquid-fuel ICBMs - solid-propellant ones can be adapted for mobile launchers, which makes them much less vulnerable and so on. All of this is true, but the question is, why did Solomonov feel he needs to spend time on this issue at all? One would think that this debate is long over - Topol-M has been already chosen the primary and the only missile of the Russian strategic forces (bar a few holdovers from the eighties).

But if we look at the brouhaha about the "hypersonic maneuverable warhead", we may notice that the only time this thing was tested it was launched on top of an SS-19/UR-100NUTTH missile. And we know that things capable of "hitting targets at an intercontinental depth, [...] with a hypersonic speed, high precision and the opportunity of deep manoeuvre in terms of height and course" are quite popular with President Putin (those were his words). So, I would not be surprised if the NPO Mashinostroyeniya (the Chelomey Design Bureau), which designed UR-100NUTTH (and most likely the "hypersonic warhead" as well), is lobbying in favor of development of a new version of the missile.