Nuclear Checkmate? Russia's New ICBM Cannot Be Intercepted
April 5, 2016 Sputnik News
Unlike other missiles, Russia's new RS-26 ICBM travels along a continuously changing trajectory, making it impossible to shoot down. Military expert conclude the US missile defense system would be "absolutely useless" against the RS-26. Russia claims the new ICBM was developed in response to Washington's plans to deploy a global missile defense system along Russia's borders.
Doomsday Weapon: Russia's New
Missile Shocks and Dazzles US, China Sputnik
RUSSIA (March 9, 2016) -- Russia's advanced RS-26 intercontinental ballistic missile has raised admiring eyebrows of military experts everywhere, the official Rossiiskaya Gazeta newspaper wrote.
In a Chinese television program aired earlier this month a local defense expert hailed the unique characteristics of the Russian ICBM and the fear it had instilled in the hearts of foreign militaries, Rossiiskaya Gazeta wrote.
"Russia's new RS-26 missile travels along a continuously changing trajectory and as such it has no analogues in the world," the expert said.
When asked about the US missile defense system, he said that it was "absolutely useless" against the RS-26.
"This one is even better than the famous Topol-M missile . . . Its warheads are supersonic and change their course all the time. Some of them will penetrate any existing missile defense shield and will hit their target," the expert added.
When asked whether the new Russian ICBM had caught the Americans flatfooted, the expert said that not only the Americans were clueless but that the Chinese too now had something to worry about.
"Russia is 100-percent safe now, unlike everybody else," he emphasized.
What makes the RS-26 so special is that even though it weighs just 80 tons, compared to the 120-ton heft of its RS-24 Yars predecessor, the Rubezh packs a frightening 1.2 megatons into its four 300 kiloton warheads.
With a potential range of 11,000 kilometers the RS-26 can hit targets all across the United States. Moreover, its booster stage is down to under five minutes, which means that NATO radars in Europe will have no time to register the launch.
Adding to NATO air defenders' worries, during the descending section of its trajectory, with only a few hundred kilometers left to the target, the missile's warheads suddenly take a dive, lose altitude, and continue the approach as a cruise missile.
These new Russian ICBM warheads were developed in response to America's plans to deploy a global missile defense system along Russia's borders.
The RS-26 Rubezh is expected to become operational in 2016.
Russia Successfully Test-Fires RS-26 Ballistic Missile Sputnik
RUSSIA (March 26, 2015) -- Russia carried out a successful test-firing of an RS-26 Rubezh ballistic missile from its southern Kapustin Yar launch center, a military representative said.
The missile's dummy warhead hit its target at the Sary Shagan range in Kazakhstan just minutes after takeoff from the Kapustin Yar rocket launch and development site in the southern Astrakhan region on March 18, Kommersant newspaper reported Thursday, citing a Defense Ministry source in Moscow.
The initial test launch of the RS-26 ICBM from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome on September 28, 2011, fell through, with the missile veering off course and landing just eight kilometers from the launch site. All subsequent tests in 2012, 2013 and 2015 proved successful.
Currently it is unknown whether this missile carries a single warhead or Multiple Independent Re-entry Vehicles (MIRVs). Both configurations were tested in 2013.
Rubezh is more accurate than current ballistic missiles and is capable of penetrating even the most sophisticated missile defenses.
The RS-26 Rubezh is expected to become operational in 2016.
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EAW to Daniel Ellsberg:
This looks like a strategic game-changer. If true, this would seem to kick the legs out from under all three elements of the Pentagon's nuclear triad. Have you written about this? Interested to hear your thoughts.
Daniel Ellsberg to EAW:
I've just read the story; thanks for sending it! There are some incorrect inferences (if you'll allow me to say) both in your message and from the "expert" quoted in the story.
First, it doesn't really affect any leg of the triad. It doesn't make our ICBMs more vulnerable than they already were, and have been for most of half a century. They're not only anachronistic and unnecessary for that entire time (since deployment of SLBMs [Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles]), they're positively dangerous to have on either side, worse when both have them.
Since they're vulnerable to other missiles of the yield and accuracy available for decades, they encourage Launch on Warning (possibly false), and also encourage preemption on warning, strategic or tactical, to catch the adversary's ICBMs before they're launched.
They can't attack the adversary's SLBMs--i.e., this new ICBM is irrelevant to the one truly survivable leg of the triad--which on both sides are plentiful enough to destroy not only the society attacked but everybody on earth, by causing nuclear winter).
Thus, the notion of preemption or LOW has been a delusion/hoax/chimera for both sides for half a century or more; striking first is NOT advantageous at all--everyone dies, from starvation within a year--compared to striking second (which merely compounds nuclear winter). A new ICBM, RS-26 or RS-24, does nothing to change any of this.
The "expert" in the story (in China?) who says this missile makes Russia "safe," or safer than other countries, or safer than before, is full of it. It does nothing of the sort.
What it does do is make a mockery of strategic ABM for the US, wherever based. Even that has really been true since 1983. But deploying ABMs--e.g., to protect vulnerable ICBMs (they can't protect cities: except against a very limited, ragged attack, as from a small nuclear weapons state OR A SECOND STRIKE)--can give an opponent the fear that you may BELIEVE that they will work against retaliation, and encourage you to strike preemptively or in escalation of a conflict.
That in turn encourages the other to a) build a lot more MIRVd missiles, perhaps SLBMs, and/or b) strike preemptively themselves. Thus, they produce both "arms instability" and "crisis instability."
But if the ABMs can blatantly do NOTHING to protect anything against your ICBMs, it just might overwhelm the pressure from the MIC [Military Industrial Complex] to get Congress to fund destabilizing ABM systems. (Or it might not: the lure of profits, jobs, donations, votes can overcome any realities).
I would rather the Russians (and the US) didn't have any ICBMs at all, as attractive targets for our preemptive strike on a false alarm. But they're not going to get rid of theirs (as we could and should, though we probably won't) because they don't trust their submarines enough. So if they're going to have some, this prospect of cancelling out any illusory/supposed benefits from US ABM systems is actually of some merit, for world stability.
Unfortunately, we might still (I'm not really up on this, either technology or US plans) deploy ABM/BMD defenses in Europe, on land or sea, to "counter" medium-range or intermediate-range missiles. These are actually banned as of now, but there are rumors that Russia might be testing the latter. I hope not; it would keep ABM in business, and continue to worry them.
At any rate, those are my first reactions. If I think of or read something to the contrary, I'll correct them. (I've been wearing my old, very dusty RAND hat as I write the above). Unless you or someone quickly sees some flaws in my argument above, feel free to circulate or reprint it as you wish.