Identifying Topol’-M (RT-2PM2) ICBM

The development of the Topol-M began in the late 1980s as an upgraded version of the SS-25, but it was redesigned in 1992 as the first missile designed and built by the Russian Federation, distinguishing it from its Soviet predecessors. The first test launch occurred in December 1994, with the initial testing of the Transporter-Erector-Launcher (TEL) vehicle version taking place nearly six years later.

The first Topol-M missiles entered service in 1997, housed in modified SS-19 silos. The first silo-based missile regiment became operational in 1998, followed by additional regiments in 1999, 2000, and 2003. The road-mobile versions of the Topol-M entered service in 2006.

Originally, production was planned for 350 missiles, but these numbers have been reduced several times. In 2009, Russia announced the completion of Topol-M production, indicating that future missile production would focus on the RS-24 Yars, a similar missile design.

Following the implementation of the New START treaty, Russia possessed 15 road-mobile and 50 silo-based Topol-M missiles. According to a 2013 U.S. report, there were approximately 80 operational missiles.

The Topol-M’s reentry vehicle (RV) is capable of making evasive maneuvers as it approaches its target. It likely carries countermeasures and decoys to reduce the chances of interception by missile defenses. The missile is shielded against radiation, electromagnetic interference, and physical disturbance, enhancing its survivability against nearby nuclear detonations.

Typically equipped with a 550 kiloton (kT) nuclear warhead, there are unconfirmed reports suggesting yields of up to 1 megaton (MT) and the deployment of up to six Multiple Independently targetable Reentry Vehicles (MIRVs). It employs a Post-Boost Vehicle (PBV) system to deploy its warheads, using a digital inertial navigation system with a GLONASS (equivalent to GPS) receiver. The Topol-M has a launch weight of 47,200 kg, a length of 21.9 meters, and varying widths across its three stages: 1.95 meters, 1.61 meters, and 1.58 meters, respectively.

As of 2016, Russia had 18 road-mobile Topol-M launchers deployed, along with 60 more in fixed silos.

The RS-24 Yars ICBM, although categorized by Russia as a distinct missile system, is sometimes classified as an SS-27 variant, dubbed the SS-27 Mod 2.

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