RT-2PM Topol (SS-25 / SS-27 Sickle)
Mobile InterContinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Carrier
The RT-2PM Topol ICBM missile series and launcher components form an integral part of Russian nuclear war deterrence.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
Beyond maintaining land-based silos and a fleet of ballistic missile launching submarines, the Russian Army also maintains a squadron (Strategic Missile Troops) of mobile ballistic missile launcher vehicles through the RT-2PM "Topol" design, known to NATO as the SS-25 "Sickle". These massive vehicles were introduced in 1985 and are in active use with the modern Russian Army.
The missile component began development in July of 1977 as an improved version of an InterContinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) able to reach any part of the world. It would be adopted to succeed an aging line of previous ICBM models then in inventory with the Soviet Army. By the middle of the 1980s, the missile had entered the requisite test stages and service introduction occurred that same year. Improvements made to the line followed into the 1990s to keep the weapon system a viable component of the modern battlefield.
The missile component carries the name of "Topol". it weighs some 99,400lb and has a length of 97 feet with a diameter of nearly 6 feet. The warhead is a single 800 kiloton fitting and the rocket motor a three-stage solid-fueled rocket engine. Range of the missile is out to 6,200 miles and the rocket can reach speeds of Mach 21 (16,000mph). An inertial autonomous guidance system guides the rocket along its course.
The carrier component of the Topol is the MZKT-79221 series ultra-heavy-duty trucks. These massive machines offer the strength and drive power needed in carrying the large ballistic missile to and fro. The vehicle's design is notable because of the multi-wheeled arrangement, seating eight axles with two-wheeled pairings each. The vehicle acts as the transporter erector launcher for the Topol missile and is a successor to the earlier MAZ-7917 vehicles, themselves having succeeded the MAZ-547 trucks of old. The operating crew is housed in a split forward cab at the front of the truck which overhangs the forward-most axle. The Topol missile itself overhangs the cab.
The Russian Army fields over 350 Topol missiles currently (2017). Modifications and modernizations to the system have continued. The Topol series is in service with the 35th Rocket Division stationed at Barnaul and this group maintains some 36 mobile launchers - though as many as 100 are thought to be on hand by Western observers.
The RT-2PM2 "Topol-M" is the latest incarnation of the mobile Topol system and is known to NATO as SS-27 "Sickle B".