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Russian Nuclear Capability Data

Updated July 30, 2008
Center for Defense Information

View the information directly on CDI website

Strategic Delivery Systems

Delivery System

Year Deployed

Maximum Range (km)

Launcher Total

Warhead per unit

Warhead Yield (kt)

Warhead Total

Notes

Missiles

SS-18 Satan (RS-20)

1979

11,000

75

10 MIRV

550/750

750

SS-19 Stiletto (RS-18)

1980

10,000

100

6 MIRV

550/750

600

SS-25 Sickle (RS-12)

1985

10,500

201

1

550

201

SS-27 Topol-M (silo)

1997

11,000

48

1

550

48

SS-27 Topol-M (mobile)

2006

11,000

6

1

550

6

SS-27 Topol-M (RS-24)

(2009)

-

-

6 MIRV(?)

550 (?)

-

New missile under development

Strategic ALCMs

Kh-102

-

3,000-5,000

-

1

-

Kh-101 is the conventional analogue to the Kh-102

SLBMs

SS-N-18 M1 Stingray

1978

6,500

80

3 MIRV

200

240

On Delta III SSBNs

SS-N-23 Skiff

1986

8,300

64

4 MIRV

100

256

On Delta IV SSBNs

SS-N-23 M1 Sineva

2007

-

32

4 MIRV

100

128

SS-NX-30 Bulava

(2008)

10,000

0

6 MIRV*

(100)

0

Test in November 2007 failed

Aircraft

Tu-95 MS6 Bear H6

1984

6,400

32

6 AS-15A ALCMs or bombs

Varies with weapon choice

192

Tu-95 MS16/ Bear H16

1984

2500

32

16 AS-15A ALCMs or bombs

Varies with weapon choice

512

Tu-160 Blackjack

1987

12,300

15

12 AS-15B ALCMs, AS-16 SRAMs or bombs

Varies with weapon choice

168

Currently undergoing major modernization program.[1]

Delivery vehicles for Nonstrategic and Defensive Weapons

51T6/53T6 Gorgon/Gazelle

1989/1986

350/80

32/68

1

1,000/10

100

SA-10 Grumble

1980

90

1,900

1

low yield

633

Bombers/ fighters

-

-

~524

ASMs or bombs

-

648

Submarines/surface ships/air

-

-

-

SLCMs, ASWs, SAMs, ASMs, DBs, or torpedoes

-

698

Summary of Russian Nuclear Forces:

Russia is currently estimated to have about 3,113 strategic nuclear warheads plus 2,079 non-strategic (tactical) nuclear weapons. It should be noted, however, that estimates of Russia's tactical nuclear arsenal vary widely, ranging as high as 8,808 when estimates include weapons awaiting dismantlement.

Although Russia has made dramatic reductions in its nuclear forces since the end of the Cold War,[2] a major limiting factor in the pace of reductions has been a lack of funding to dismantle existing systems.[3] Russia has assumed control of all nuclear weapons stationed in the former Soviet republics, including the strategic weapons formerly deployed in Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Belarus. Since 2007, Russia has decreased the size of its ICBM arsenal by 63 missiles.[4]

Economic limitations led Russia to let its nuclear forces deteriorate for several years after the end of the Soviet Union, but Russia has recently begun reversing this trajectory, largely thanks to an economic upswing powered by oil revenues.

Increased oil revenues have also led to increased Russian assertiveness in foreign affairs. In February 2007, Russia indicated that it may withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty,[5] which eliminated nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers. While Russia ostensibly believes the treaty is unfair, its move was almost certainly a response to the proposed U.S. missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic. Although an arms race is far from evident, Russia would presumably withdraw from the treaty in order to threaten targeting others with missiles. Nevertheless, despite this saber-rattling, the United States and Russia issued a joint statement to the United Nations General Assembly in October 2007 affirming their continued “support” for the treaty.[6]

Russia continues to conduct test launches of its ICBMs and to replace other aging missiles. The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) II would have eliminated the deployment of multiple independently targeted reentry vehicles (MIRVs), as well as limited Russia and the United States to 3,500 deployed strategic warheads. However, the treaty never entered into force due to Russia’s withdrawal, which was loosely tied to the U.S. withdrawal in 2002 from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Russia has decided to retain its SS-18 and SS-19 ICBMs,[7] and continues to test them despite the fact that some are well beyond their original service lives.[8] While Russia recently destroyed its last SS-24 missile,[9] the next-generation SS-27 Topol-M road-mobile missile was reportedly put on active duty in the Ivanovo region of central Russia in early December 2006.[10] As Russia continues to reexamine its strategic requirements, more missiles in its stockpile will likely be retired within the next decade.

Russia is also developing a strategic cruise missile, the Kh-102, believed to be derived from the Kh-55 (“AS-15 Kent”) air-launched cruise missile (ALCM).[11] The conventional version of the Kh-102, the Kh-101, first appeared in 1998, and was launched from a Tu-160 bomber. However, the status of the Tu-160 program is in doubt, and now the Tu-95 looks like the probable launch platform for the Kh-102 (see below for more detailed information on Russian bombers). The Kh-102 was first tested in 1998.

Declines have been particularly dramatic in Russia's SSBN fleet. In 1990, Russia had 62 SSBNs; as of early 2008, Russia has just over ten submarines in its strategic fleet.[12] The fleet probably consists primarily of Delta IV and Delta III SSBNs. In addition, one of the older Typhoon class submarines appears to have been refitted to carry a new missile system, the long-range SS-NX-30 Bulava SLBM, which can carry up to 10 warheads. The Bulava has had a string of test failures, but Russia intends to complete testing in 2008. [13] Russia is also developing a new Borey-class SSBN, the first of which has been named the Admiral Dolgorukiy. It is expected to become operational in 2008, and it will also be equipped with Bulava missiles. Two more Borey-class SSBNs, the Aleksander Nevskiy and the Vladimir Monomakh, began construction in March 2004 and March 2006, respectively.

Russia has three bomber models capable of delivering nuclear weapons: the turboprop-powered Tu-95 MS6 (Bear H6) and Tu-95 MS16 (Bear H16), and the 1980s-era Tu-160 (Blackjack). Many of the older Tu-95s have fallen into disrepair. However, former President Vladimir Putin declared in October 2007 that Russia will be modernizing its Tu-95 force.[14] Of the 15 Tu-160s currently operating in the Russian air force, eight were formerly stationed in Ukraine. While the condition of the Tu-160 fleet is unknown, Russia’s Air Force carried out test sorties and bombings in 2006 [15] and a modernization program is underway.[16] The program will upgrade avionics packages and control systems and modify the bombers to allow delivery of gravity bombs and non-nuclear cruise missiles. There are also unconfirmed plans for an expanded fleet of Tu-160s, and in April 2008, a newly built Blackjack entered service.[17] Starting in 2007, Russia has resumed heavy bomber patrols over the North Pole and elsewhere, in addition to shadowing U.S. naval forces.[18]

Signed in 2002 between the United States and Russia, the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT or the Moscow Treaty) committed both countries to reduce their deployed strategic nuclear arsenals to between 1,700 and 2,200 operational warheads by Dec. 31, 2012. Neither the START nor the SORT treaties restricts tactical or reserve weapons. Russia will likely retain approximately 3,000 tactical warheads, in addition to an unknown number of reserve weapons.

Strategic Nuclear Weapons: 3,113

Non-strategic Nuclear Weapons: 2,079

Total Nuclear Weapons: ~5,192+

Sources:

“Five Minutes to Midnight.” Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, January/February 2007.

“Global Partnership Funding Commitments.” Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey Institute for International Studies. May 7, 2004. http://cns.miis.edu/research/globpart/funding.htm.

“How many submarines out on patrol?” Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces. Sept. 13, 2006 http://russianforces.org/blog/2006/09/how_many_submarines_are_on_pat.shtml

“Russian bombers flew undetected across Arctic - AF commander,” Russian News and Information Agency, April 4, 2006.

“Russian Strategic Missile Test Fails.” Agence France-Presse, Oct. 25, 2006.

“Russian Strategic Submarine to be Launched.” Global Security Newswire. April 10, 2007.

“Russian warplanes entered Canadian radar zone unnoticed.” Interfax. April 22, 2006.

Federation of American Scientists. http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/russia/icbm/ur-100mr.htm (Accessed on March 16, 2007).

GlobalSecurity.org. “Kh-101/Kh-102.” http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/russia/kh-101.htm (Accessed on March 16, 2007).

GlobalSecurity.org. “UR-100N / SS-19 STILLETO.” (Accessed on March 16, 2007). http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/russia/ur-100n.htm

GlobalSecurity.org. “RT-2UTTH - Topol-M SS-27.” (Accessed on March 16, 2007). http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/russia/rt-2pmu.htm

GlobalSecurity.org. “Russian Warships.” http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/russia/ship.htm (Accessed on March 16, 2007).

Hughes, Nathan, and Peter Zeihan. “The INF Treaty: Implications of a Russian Withdrawal.” Stratfor: Geopolitical Intelligence Report. Feb. 20, 2007.

Kristensen, Hans M., and Robert S. Norris. “Russian Nuclear Forces, 2007.” Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, March/April 2007, 61-64. http://thebulletin.metapress.com/content/d41x498467712117/fulltext.pdf.

Kristensen, Hans M., and Robert S. Norris. “Russian Nuclear Forces, 2008.” Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, May/June 2008, 54-57. http://thebulletin.metapress.com/content/t2j78437407v3qv1/fulltext.pdf.

Natural Resources Defense Council. “Figure of US and USSR/Russian ICBM Warheads (Force Loadings), 1959-2002.” Nov. 25, 2002. http://www.nrdc.org/nuclear/nudb/dafig4.asp.

Nuclear Information Project, The. “Russian Nuclear Submarine Patrols.” http://www.nukestrat.com/russia/subpatrols.htm (updated Feb. 24, 2006).

Nuclear Threat Initiative, “Russia: Raduga Mechanical Design Bureau (MKB Raduga),” updated 25 April 2003, http://www.nti.org/db/nisprofs/russia/delivry/raduga.htm.

“Nunn-Lugar Eliminates final Russian SS-24 ICBM,” Press Release of Senator Lugar, April 9, 2008, http://lugar.senate.gov/press/record.cfm?id=295813.

Podvig, Pavel. “Current Status of the Strategic Forces.” Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces. Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University. http://russianforces.org/current/ (Accessed on March 15, 2007).

Podvig, Pavel, “Rocket Forces Launch Plans for 2008,” Russianforces.org, 27 February 2008, http://russianforces.org/blog/2008/02/rocket_forces_launch_plans_for.shtml.

Podvig, Pavel. “Russian strategic forces took part in a large-scale exercise.” Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces. Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University. http://russianforces.org/blog/2004/02/russian_strategic_forces_took.shtml (Accessed on March 15, 2007).

Podvig, Pavel, “Strategic Aviation,” Russianforces.org, April 3, 2008, http://russianforces.org/aviation.

Podvig, Pavel, “Tu-160 Modernization Program is Underway,” Russianforces.org, April 26, 2008, http://russianforces.org/blog/2008/04/tu160_modernization_program_is.shtml. (Original source in Russian.)

“Russia upgrades nuclear missiles,” BBC News, Dec. 5, 2006, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6209236.stm.

Sokov, Nikolai. “The Future Shape of Russia’s ICBM Force Clarified.” Monterey Institute for International Studies, Center for Nonproliferation Studies. Nov. 9, 2005. http://www.cns.miis.edu/pubs/week/051109.htm.

ENDNOTES

[1] Pavel Podvig, “Tu-160 Modernization Program is Underway,” Russianforces.org, April 26, 2008, <http://russianforces.org/blog/2008/04/tu160_modernization_program_is.shtml.> (Original source in Russian.)

[2] Natural Resources Defense Council, “Figure of US and USSR/Russian ICBM Warheads (Force Loadings), 1959-2002,” Nov. 25, 2002. http://www.nrdc.org/nuclear/nudb/dafig4.asp

[3] Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey Institute for International Studies, “Global Partnership Funding Commitments,” May 7, 2004. http://cns.miis.edu/research/globpart/funding.htm

[4] Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris, “Russian Nuclear Forces, 2008,” The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, May/June 2008. http://thebulletin.metapress.com/content/t2j78437407v3qv1/fulltext.pdf

[5] Nathan Hughes, and Peter Zeihan, “The INF Treaty: Implications of a Russian Withdrawal,” Stratfor: Geopolitical Intelligence Report, Feb. 20, 2007.

[6] Daryl Kimball, “The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty at a Glance,” Arms Control Association, Feb. 2008, http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/INFtreaty.asp

[7] GlobalSecurity.org, “UR-100N / SS-19 STILLETO,” http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/russia/ur-100n.htm (Accessed April 9, 2007)

[8] Pavel Podvig, “Rocket Forces Launch Plans for 2008,” Russianforces.org, 27 February 2008, http://russianforces.org/blog/2008/02/rocket_forces_launch_plans_for.shtml

[9] “Nunn-Lugar Eliminates final Russian SS-24 ICBM,” Press Release of Senator Lugar, April 9, 2008, http://lugar.senate.gov/press/record.cfm?id=295813

[10] “Russia upgrades nuclear missiles,” BBC News, Dec. 5, 2006, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6209236.stm.

[11] Nuclear Threat Initiative, “Russia: Raduga Mechanical Design Bureau (MKB Raduga),” updated 25 April 2003, http://www.nti.org/db/nisprofs/russia/delivry/raduga.htm

[12] See Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen, “Russian Nuclear Forces, 2008,” The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, May/June 2008; and Pavel Podvig, “Strategic Fleet,” Russianforces.org, April 3, 2008, .

[13] “Russia to complete tests of Bulava-M missile in 2008,” RIA-Novosti, Apr. 4, 2008, http://en.rian.ru/russia/20080404/103755786.html

[14] “Russian Nuclear Forces, 2008.”

[15] “Russian bombers flew undetected across Arctic - AF commander,” Russian News and Information Agency, April 4, 2006; also see “Russian warplanes entered Canadian radar zone unnoticed,” Interfax, April 22, 2006.

[16] Pavel Podvig, “Strategic Aviation,” Russianforces.org, April 3, 2008, .

[17] “Russian Air Force receives new Tu-160 strategic bomber,” RIA-Novosti, Apr. 29, 2008. http://en.rian.ru/russia/20080429/106194482.html

[18] “Russian Bombers Patrol Over Atlantic Ocean,” RIA Novosti, Apr. 24, 2008, http://mnweekly.ru/national/20080424/55325633.html

Author(s): Eric Hundman, CDI

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