Strategic Weapons: August 19, 2005

Archives

: Russia has announced that it will increase its test launches of ICBMs to ten a year, at least for this year and 2006. This is an increase from the six, or fewer test launches made since the Cold War ended in 1991. The test launches arent really all that expensive. The missiles are going to age and become useless eventually anyway. The only additional costs for a test launch are the dummy warheads (with the radio and other gear to enable people on the ground to track it), and the monitoring stations down range. The missile selected for the test shot has its nuclear warhead replaced with the dummy one, and the guidance system is reprogrammed to bring the missile down into an ocean, or a distant, uninhabited part of Russia (the arctic far east is a favorite landing spot). The Russians do their test launches from actual silos, which have to be rebuilt afterward. This is probably the most expensive part of the process. But with the end of the Cold War, money was tight, and Russias ICBM force was aging fast. By the last 1990s, more than half of their missiles were past their shelf date and much less reliable. Thus one reason for having fewer test launches, was to reduce the chance of an embarrassing failure. But with the economy growing, and oil (a major export) going for over $60 a barrel, theres more money for maintaining the ICBM force, and running test launches that are less likely to fail. 

 

Article Archive

Strategic Weapons: Current 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 


X

wreath  

Christmas is around the corner. StrategyPage needs your help to make it a merry one for our content elves. Because of falling ad revenues and the owners of the site wanting you to have a good experience, the content elves may recieve no gifts from Santa Dunnigan.

What can you do to help the content elves have a merry Christmas? There are three possibilities:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..

Drake appreciates any help you can give him.

Subscribe   Contribute   Close