RT-2PM2 Topol-M

Last updated
SS-27 "Sickle B"
19-03-2012-Parade-rehearsal - Topol-M.jpg
A Topol-M (in its container) on MZKT-79221 mobile launcher during rehearsals for the 2012 Moscow Victory Day Parade.
Type Intercontinental ballistic missile
Place of originRussia
Service history
In serviceDecember 1997–present
Used byRussian Strategic Missile Troops
Production history
Designer Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology
Manufacturer Votkinsk Machine Building Plant
ProducedDecember 1994–2010
Mass47,200 kg (104,000 lb)
Length22.7 m (74.47 ft)
Diameter1.9 m (6 ft 3 in)
Warhead1 Mt warhead [1]

EngineThree-stage Solid-fuel rocket
11,000 km (6,800 mi) [2]
Maximum speed 7,320 metres per second (26,400 km/h; 16,400 mph; Mach 22) [3]
Inertial with GLONASS [4]
Accuracy200 m CEP [3]
Silo, road-mobile TEL

The RT-2PM2 «Topol-M» (Russian : РТ-2ПМ2 «Тополь-М», NATO reporting name: SS-27 "Sickle B" [5] , other designations: SS-27 Mod 1, [6] [7] RS-12M1, RS-12M2, formerly incorrectly RT-2UTTKh) [8] is one of the most recent intercontinental ballistic missiles to be deployed by Russia (see RS-24), and the first to be developed after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. It was developed from the RT-2PM Topol mobile intercontinental ballistic missile.


In its Russian designation РТ stands for "ракета твердотопливная", raketa tverdotoplivnaya ("solid fuel rocket"), while УТТХ – for "улучшенные тактико-технические характеристики," uluchshenniye taktiko-tekhnicheskie kharakteristiki ("improved tactical and technical characteristics"). "Topol" (тополь) in Russian means "white poplar". It is designed and produced exclusively by the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology, and built at the Votkinsk Machine Building Plant. [9] [10]


The Topol-M is a cold-launched, three-stage, solid-propellant, silo-based or road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile. [2] The missile's length is 22.7 m and the first stage has a body diameter of 1.9 m. The mass at launch is 47,200 kg, including the 1,200 kg payload. Topol-M carries a single warhead with an 800 kt yield [1] but the design is compatible with MIRV warheads. According to chief designer Yury Solomonov, the missile can carry four to six warheads along with decoys. [11] Its minimum range is estimated to be 2,000 km and the maximum range 10,500 km. It has three solid rocket stages with inertial, autonomous flight control utilizing an onboard GLONASS receiver. [12] It is reputed to have the highest accuracy of any Russian ICBM [13] with a CEP of 200m. [14] The body of the rocket is made by winding carbon fiber.

The Topol-M may be deployed either inside a reinforced missile silo or from an APU launcher mounted on the MZKT-79221 "Universal" 16-wheeled transporter-erector-launcher. [13] This mobile launcher is capable of moving through roadless terrain, and launching a missile from any point along its route. The designation for the silo-based Topol-M missile is believed to be RS-12M2, while the mobile version is RS-12M1. [8]

Dmitry Medvedev during his visit to a regiment of the Strategic Rocket Forces equipped with Topol-M Dmitry Medvedev 15 May 2008-14.jpg
Dmitry Medvedev during his visit to a regiment of the Strategic Rocket Forces equipped with Topol-M
Combat Support Vehicle (MOBD) 15V231 of Topol/Topol-M at the Saint-Petersburg Artillery Museum Topol LAS.JPG
Combat Support Vehicle (MOBD) 15V231 of Topol/Topol-M at the Saint-Petersburg Artillery Museum
Troposphere Relay Station R-406VCh of Topol/Topol-M at the Saint-Petersburg Artillery Museum Topol TRS.JPG
Troposphere Relay Station R-406VCh of Topol/Topol-M at the Saint-Petersburg Artillery Museum
Topol-M mobile launchers on the streets of Moscow during Victory Day Parade Rehearsal Moscow 2012 Victory Day Parade Rehearsal, Topol-M nuclear missile launchers 2, Russia.jpg
Topol-M mobile launchers on the streets of Moscow during Victory Day Parade Rehearsal

The first stage has rocket motors developed by the Soyuz Federal Center for Dual-Use Technologies. These give the missile a much higher acceleration than other ICBM types. They enable the missile to accelerate to the speed of 7,320 m/s and to travel a flatter trajectory to distances of up to 10,000 km. [3]

As a solid propellant design, the missile can be maintained on alert for prolonged periods of time and can launch within minutes of being given the order. [11]

Development and deployment

The development of the missile began in the late 1980s as a response to the American Strategic Defense Initiative. [15] Initially an evolutionary upgrade of the RT-2PM Topol, [16] the missile was redesigned in 1992.[ citation needed ] The missile's principal designer was Yuri Solomonov, who would later oversee the development of the RSM-56 Bulava. [17]

The first flight test took place on December 20, 1994, during which the missile, launched from Plesetsk, hit its target 4,000 miles (6,400 km) away. [18] [19] Two missiles were put on experimental combat duty in December 1997 at Tatishchevo. [18] The fifth test flight on 22 October 1998 was unsuccessful as the missile exploded after being launched; the sixth test flight two months later was successful. [18] The 104th Regiment of the Taman Missile Division, based in Saratov, introduced 10 missiles into service on 30 December 1998; another ten entered service with a second regiment in December 1999. [18] [20]

Silo launcher Topol-M entered service by presidential decree on 13 July 2000, the third, fourth and fifth regiments entered service in 2000, 2003 and 2005. The last regiment was to arrive in 2012. [21]

On December 12, 2006 the first three mobile Topol-M missile systems entered duty with a missile unit stationed near the town of Teykovo. [22]

By the end of 2010 the Russian Strategic Missile Troops operated 70 Topol-M missile systems including 52 silo-based and 18 mobile systems. A further 8 missiles were to join the Forces by 2011–2012. [23]

Current Strategic Rocket Forces Order of Battle lists the following sites with Topol-M missiles: [23] [24]

The Topol-M missiles have a lifetime between 15 and 20 years.

Missile defense evasion capabilities

According to Russia the missile and its various versions, RS-24 Yars (SS-27 Mod 2), RS-26 Rubezh (another SS-27 version) and RSM-56 Bulava (SLBM version of SS-27) are designed to counter and evade current or planned United States missile defense system. [25] It is said to be capable of making evasive maneuvers to avoid a kill by interceptors, and carries targeting countermeasures and decoys. [26]

One of the Topol-M's most notable features is its short engine burn time following take-off, intended to minimize satellite detection of launches and thereby complicate both early warning and interception by missile defense systems during boost phase. The missile also has a relatively flat ballistic trajectory, complicating defense acquisition and interception. [27]

According to The Washington Times , Russia has conducted a successful test of the evasive payload delivery system. [28] The missile was launched on 1 November 2005 from the Kapustin Yar facility. The warhead changed course after separating from the launcher, making it difficult to predict a re-entry trajectory.

Equipment of Topol-M with MIRV

A new missile loosely based on Topol-M and equipped with multiple re-entry vehicles (MIRV) is called RS-24 Yars. In January 2009 Russian sources hinted that the production of the mobile Topol-M missile would be shutting down in 2009 and that the new MIRVed RS-24 version would replace it. [29]


Loading ICBM Topol-M into the launch silo Zagruzka MBR Topol'-M v puskovuiu shakhtu (1).png
Loading ICBM Topol-M into the launch silo
The final stage of loading the rocket into the launch silo Zagruzka MBR Topol'-M v puskovuiu shakhtu (2).png
The final stage of loading the rocket into the launch silo
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia

The Strategic Missile Troops are the only operator of the RT-2PM2 Topol-M. As of March 2020, [30] 60 silo-based and 18 mobile RT-2PM2 Topol-M missiles are deployed with 2 rocket divisions:



It is believed that since 2010 no more RT-2PM2 Topol-M missiles have been purchased in favor of the newest RS-24 Yars.

See also

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