Russia to keep SS-18 ballistic missiles in service until 2019

April 10, 2009, Moscow -- The RS-20V Voyevoda-M (SS-18 Satan) intercontinental ballistic missile, introduced almost 21 years ago, will remain in service until 2019, the commander of Russia's Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) said on Friday.

"The extension in the service life of the [Voyevoda-M] missile will allow us to keep these missiles, the most powerful in the world, in the SMF for another eight-10 years," Col. Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov said.

"We have no technical difficulties in accomplishing this task," he added.

The general also said Russia was developing a new ICBM comparable to the SS-18, and would gradually decommission older versions of the missile "in order to ensure nuclear safety."

According to publicly available sources, Russia currently has 88 SS-18 missile silo launchers, most of them deployed at the Dombarovsky missile base in the Orenburg Region, southern Urals.

The missile is armed with a warhead fitting 10 multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs) with a yield of 550 to 750 kilotons each.

It has a maximum range of 11,000 km (6,800 miles) with a launch mass of over 210 tons and a payload of 8.8 tons. (RIA Novosti)

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