In a number of stories that accompanied the test launch of a Topol missile today, various Rocket Forces representatives told journalists about the plans for this year.

The Rocket Forces expect to add six missiles to the deployed force. These are, of course, Topol-M missiles - the only question is what combination of silo-based and road-mobile missiles we will see in December. The number six suggests that these are two road-mobile regiments, so no silo-based Topol-Ms would be deployed this year despite the confirmed commitment to continue deployment of the sixth regiment in Tatishchevo (which in this case will not begin until 2010).

The road-based Topol-Ms, which will be MIRVed and called RS-24 from now on, will be deployed in Teykovo, as expected. According to the Rocket Forces, once the deployment of RS-24/MIRVed Topol-M begins this year, all new road-mobile missiles will be MIRVed (however, three of the six new missiles may still be single-warhead Topol-Ms - according to Solovtsov, deployment of these missiles will stop at two regiments - 18 missiles, i.e. three more than the current 15). It is not clear if new silo-based Topol-Ms will be MIRVed as well. Earlier reports suggest that they might, but my guess is that the sixth regiment in Tatishchevo will have single-warhead missiles.

The R-36MUTTH version of the SS-18 missile (also known as RS-20B) will be completely withdrawn from service, while the R-36M2 (RS-20V) will stay until about 2019. Withdrawal of R-36UTTH was planned some time ago - it was announced back in 2005 (the missile is about 30 years now and it shows). As for R-36M2, it looks like it got another extension of its service life - the last officially released number was 20 years. Keeping the missile in service until 2019 would require extending it to just under 30 years, which is probably doable.

As for the number of R-36M2 missiles, there is a bit of uncertainty here - some data suggest that the Soviet Union deployed 82 missiles of this type by the time it broke up - 30 in Dombarovsky, 28 in Uzhur, and 24 in Derzhavinsk (in Kazakhstan). The missiles from Derzhavinsk were brought to Russia, but it is not clear if they were redeployed (most likely not). So far everything is consistent with the Rocket Forces leaving 30 R-36M2 missiles in Dombarovsky and 28 - in Uzhur. Earlier reports indicate that both these divisions will remain operational after 2016.

The Rocket Forces are planning to conduct 14 launches of ballistic missiles this year - five of them will be space launches that would use missiles removed from service. These are four planned Dnepr launches (three from Baykonur and one from Dombarovsky) and one Start-1 launch from Vostochny.