Moving quickly to restore confidence in their newest ICBM following a failed test flight (see the Monitor, October 26), the Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) have taken delivery of five more RS-12M2 Topol-M missiles. These are to be installed in silos at the SMF base at Tatishchevo, near Saratov, where two Topol-Ms were put in service on a trial basis last December. The complex at Tatishchevo once housed eleven regiments with 110 SS-19 and ten SS-24 missiles. These are the only silo-based SS-24s deployed in Russia.
Russian officials continue to insist that a complete regiment of ten Topol-Ms will be in service at Tatishchevo by the end of the year. The program has certainly received priority financing. It does not seem, however, that much of this money has made its way down to the Votkinsk engineering plant in the Udmurt Republic that produces the missile. The RS-12M2 Topal-M is said to be the only weapon with its own separate line in the budget. First Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Maslyukov’s announcement that Russia should produce thirty-five to forty of these missiles each year reportedly brought the leaders of the Defense Ministry to tears, as this effort would have swallowed up the entire defense budget. Now the stated goal is to build ten of the new missiles each year. However, with last month’s test failure, a cloud remains over the program. More testing will be needed, using up more of these expensive weapons (Russian media, October 26-29).
THE RUSSIAN PREMIER MEETS THE CHECHEN PRESIDENT.