Speaking to journalists about a month ago, Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov, the commander of the Strategic Rocket Forces, gave us some interesting numbers about the state of readiness of the missile force and about mobile missile patrol rates. (Thanks to reader R for sending me the link.)

According to Solovtsov, the Strategic Rocket Forces managed to bring the number of missiles on high alert ("ready for immediate use") to the 96% goal set by the President. It is interesting to note that last year Solovtsov reported that 97 to 98 missiles out of every hundred were in launch-ready state.

Also, Solovtsov seemed to say that 93% of road-mobile missiles were on patrol during the first half of 2008 (that probably should have been "first four months", since he was speaking in the beginning of May). The exact words that he was reported to use were "number of tactical exercises during which missile regiments were deployed on patrol routes." This choice of words leaves a possibility that some of these exercises were not combat patrols, but I think it is unlikely. In 2007 that rate was 90% and in 2006 - 78%.

This is a fairly high patrol rate. Most estimates in the open literature (including mine) assumed that missiles are normally kept in stationary shelters and rarely go on patrol.