The Rocket Forces apparently scaled down the missile flight test program. The initial plan announced in February 2008 called for 11 missile launches. In May the plan the Rocket Forces corrected the plan - at the time it was announced that nine launches would take place by the end of the year.

Three of these tests are Dnepr space launches, one of which took place on August 29, 2008. Of the flight tests was supposed to include "prospective missile equipment". It appears that that was the Topol launch on August 28, 2008.

The change of the plans made in May looked like a cancellation of the two mysterious launches that were supposed to advance "work on a missile system in research and development". (I speculated at the time that these might be a SS-19 follow-on, but this is a guess that is not based on any evidence, so don't quote me on that.)

Now the testing program has been revised again. General Nikolai Solovtsov, commander of the Strategic Rocket Forces, speaking to journalists yesterday said that the Rocket Forces would perform four test launches by the end of the year.

Gen. Solovtsov suggested that the Rocket Forces conducted three launches so far this year - in addition to the two mentioned above he included the Kosmos-3M space launch from Kapustin Yar on June 19, 2008. It is not clear if that one was counted against the nine or eleven in the original plans, but in any event, at least two launches got canceled.

One of the canceled launches is a flight test of the RS-24 missile - two were scheduled initially and now it is only one. Since the idea was that the two launches are required to conclude the flight test program of the missile, it appears that RS-24 may not enter service in 2009 as it was expected.

Two of the four remaining tests are probably the two Dnepr space launches, which are still scheduled to take place in 2008, although one (DubaiSat and others) may slip to 2009.

Finally, the fourth test may be another space launch - a Kosmos-3M launch from Baykonur (with Parus and Sterkh satellites) is scheduled for later this year. Or it could be a test launch of another ICBM. We will see.