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    Russia test launches new RS-24 ICBM

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    Russia has conducted a second test launch of a new intercontinental ballistic missile with multiple warheads, a Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) spokesman said Tuesday.

    Moscow, December 25 (RIA Novosti) - Russia has conducted a second test launch of a new intercontinental ballistic missile with multiple warheads, a Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) spokesman said Tuesday.

    "The RS-24 ICBM equipped with a multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) warhead was fired at 4.10 p.m. Moscow time (1.10 p.m. GMT) from the Plesetsk space center [in northwest Russia]," the official said.

    He said the missile hit a designated target at the Kura test site on the Kamchatka Peninsula, in the country's Far East, without specifying, however, precisely when that had happened.

    The RS-24 is a new-generation Russian intercontinental ballistic missile, which was first tested on May 29, 2007 after a secret military R&D project, to replace the older SS-18 and SS-19 missiles by 2050.

    It is expected to greatly strengthen the SMF's strike capability and Russia's nuclear deterrent, as well as that of its allies until the mid-21st century.

    The SMF commander said last week that new missile systems to be adopted soon will enable the force to infiltrate any missile defense systems, even those that have not yet been established. He declined to specify the systems he was referring to.

    Col. Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov said Russia is putting an average of three mobile and three or four fixed-site missile launching systems into operation every year, and that Russia would double its test launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles after 2009.

    Russia will operate 48 fixed-site Topol-M (NATO reporting name SS-27) ballistic missiles by the start of 2008, an SMF spokesman said.

    The SMF said previously that the system would be equipped with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRV) in the next two or three years, adding that the new system would be able to penetrate missile defenses more effectively.

    As of December 2006, Russia's SMF operated 44 silo-based and three mobile Topol-M missile systems.

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