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Rearmament of Kozelsk missile division continues

The rearmament of Russia’s nuclear triad continues, with state media-released video footage on 4 January showing the loading of an RS-24 Yars (NATO reporting name SS-27 Mod 2) intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) into a silo in Kozelsk, home to the 28th Guards Missile Division, in the Kaluga Oblast, southwest of Moscow .

The RS-24 Yars is a thermonuclear-armed multiple independent re-entry vehicle (MIRV)-equipped evolution of the earlier RS-12M2 Topol-M (NATO reporting name SS-27 ‘Sickle B’). Both are three-stage, solid-propellant, cold-launched ICBMs, and both are also deployed in silo as well as road mobile versions. However, the RS-12M2 comes with only a single warhead as opposed to the up to four MIRVs of the RS-24, and the guidance system of the RS-24 is reportedly (but unconfirmed) modernised with technology shared with the RSM-56 Bulava (NATO reporting name SS-N-32) submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). To comply with treaty limitations on the number of warheads, it has been speculated that the current configuration includes three instead of four MIRVs.

The 28th Guards Missile Division was previously equipped with the UR-100NUTTH (NATO reporting name SS-19 ‘Stiletto’), a liquid-propellant ICBM with MIRVs that was developed in the Soviet Union in the 1970s and featured 60 silos at its maximum extent.

The UR-100NUTTH ICBM is no longer operational in Kozelsk and half the silos appear to have been disbanded. Of the remaining 30 silos, the first 10 were converted to RS-24 use in the 2015-to-2018 timeframe, with two having been added in 2019 and again in 2020, for a total of 14 active RS-24 silos. It is unclear if the video clip dates to late 2020 or whether this was the installation of the first of two new RS-24 silos, which was expected in 2021.

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