MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia successfully tested a long-range Topol missile designed to avoid detection by anti-missile defence systems from its Plesetsk launch site, a Russian military spokesman said on Thursday.
“The launch was specially tasked to test the missile’s capability to avoid ground-based detection systems,” said Colonel Alexander Vovk of the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces.
Washington and Warsaw formally signed a deal last week to station elements of a U.S. missile defence shield in Poland, a move that has aggravated Russian-Western tensions already raw from Moscow’s intervention in Georgia.
Russia has heaped scorn on the missile defence system, which the U.S. says is aimed at Iran, and through its Foreign Ministry last week vowed “to react, and not only through diplomatic protests.”
The RS-12M Topol, called the SS-25 Sickle by NATO, has a maximum range of 10,000 km (6,125 miles) and can carry one 550-kiloton warhead.
Last October former Russian President Vladimir Putin, now the prime minister, said the country was working on new types of nuclear weapons as part of a “grandiose” plan to boost the country’s defenses.
“As part of the commander in chief’s order there will be a few more launches of this particular missile before the end of the year,” Vovk said.
Russia has reconfigured earlier Topol models to expand their life-span to 23 years and has been evaluating the reliability of flight stabilizers that allow the missile to fly to a target in a manner similar to cruise missiles.