Artillery: Russians Firing Lots of Old Missiles

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December 2, 2007: So far this
year, Russia has test fired a dozen SS-21 (OTR - 21 "Tochka")
ballistic missiles. This is the system that replaced FROG missiles (the largest
rocket system used) in Russian service. Tochka has been operational  for 35 years. The two ton missile has a range
of 70-120 kilometers and carries half ton warhead. These firings help train the
crews, and perform a quality control function. It appears that the Russians are
firing off older missiles, that are approaching the end of their shelf life.
Solid fuel rockets can last for 10-20 years before they go bad (and tend to be
unreliable if fired.) Tochka uses inertial guidance, which can achieve about
the same accuracy as the much cheaper GPS (or similar system, like the Russian
GLONASS). Russia is believed to have several hundred OTR - 21
"Tochka" missiles, and at least a hundred of the wheeled
transport/launcher vehicles. Syria has 
36 of the missiles and more than a dozen of the transport/launcher
vehicles.