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Russian military confirms 13 strategic missile launches for 2009

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Russia's Strategic Missile Forces plan 13 training missile launches for next year, the forces commander Col.-Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov said Wednesday.
MOSCOW, December 17 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Strategic Missile Forces plan 13 training missile launches for next year, the forces commander Col.-Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov said Wednesday. (Strategic Missile Force Day - Image gallery)

"We have scheduled 13 training launches for 2009. The number could come down a bit," he said.

The commander said last month that the forces were planning to conduct at least 13 launches of ballistic missiles next year.

"We are planning to carry out 13 launches in 2009: five test launches of new missiles, three launches to confirm the extension of missiles' service lives, and five launches of converted SS-18 Satan ICBMs under the Dnepr program to orbit various satellites," Solovtsov said in November.

The Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) conducted seven launches of ballistic missiles in 2008 and postponed two launches until next year.

Solovtsov also said in November that the SMF would put into service in 2009 systems equipped with new-generation RS-24 intercontinental ballistic missiles, bearing multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) warheads.

Russia carried out a third successful test of the RS-24 on November 26.

According to open sources, the total arsenal of Russia's SMF comprises 536 ICBMs, including 306 SS-25 Topol (Sickle) missiles and 54 SS-27 Topol-M (Stalin) missiles.

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