geopolitics-00942
A RS-12M Topol mobile intercontinental ballistic missile system during preparations for the Victory Day military parade, in Moscow's Khoroshyovo-Mnyovniki District. Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS

Russia’s strategic missile forces will stop using Topol intercontinental ballistic missiles in 2024, a source in the defense sector told TASS on Thursday.

“It is planned to remove the latest Topol intercontinental ballistic missile from service in the strategic missile forces in 2024. Topol missiles out of working service are being replaced by Yars intercontinental ballistic missile with MIRVed (multiple independently targetable vehicle) warheads,” he said.

The Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology, the head company of the pool engaged in the development and productions of solid-propellant intercontinental ballistic missiles, refrained from commenting on this information.

It is planned that some of Topol ICBMs coming out of service will be used for civilian purposes as Start-1 carrier rockets. Chief Designer of the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology Yuri Solomonov told TASS in November 2020 that a decision on resuming the launches of Start-1 carrier rockets re-converted from Topol intercontinental ballistic missiles could be taken within a year. “A decision on this issue is planned to be made in 2020-2021,” he said, adding that everything would depend on two programs for creating two clusters of small-size satellites, for which Start-1 rockets are convenient launch vehicles.

The Start-1 is a light-class solid-propellant carrier rocket based on the Topol ICBM. With a lift-off weight of 47 tonnes, it can deliver a payload of over 500 kg to a low Earth orbit. In 1993-2006, Russia conducted seven Start rocket launches from the spaceports of Plesetsk and Svobodny (currently Vostochny).

According to open sources, there were 360 Topol launching systems in ten divisions of the Russian strategic missile forces in 1999.