The Strategic Rocket Forces established in the 1990s have saved Russia from being erased from the world map as they have demonstrated their innovation and reliability with the Avangard and Sarmat.
A formation of the Strategic Rocket Forces in the Kaluga Region, south of Moscow, is seen in a video provided by the Russian Defense Ministry on Sunday transferring a large Yars intercontinental ballistic missile and placing it into its subterranean, armored silo.
The missile carrier’s enormous trailer, which has four rows of enormous tires suitable for off-roading, is seen in the breathtaking video slowly raising 90 degrees above the silo while the 22.5-meter-long missile is cautiously lowered in and prepared for combat service.
The Yars missiles, which can also be carried and fired onboard road-mobile launch platforms, were originally delivered to the Kozelsky SRF formation in Kaluga, making it the first unit in the nation to do so.
The Yars is one of several heavy strategic intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in the Strategic Rocket Forces’ arsenal, with others including the Topol-M, the UR-100N (RS-18A), the R-36M-2 Voevoda, and the new RS-28 Sarmat, whose first units assumed combat duty in September.
Russia’s ground-based nuclear deterrent will be primarily bolstered by the Yars and Sarmat missiles for many years to come as the more antiquated UR-100N and R-36M2 series missiles are deactivated.
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During the Cold War, the Strategic Rocket Forces, which were established on December 17, 1959, when the USSR started to deploy its first ICBMs, faced their American adversaries for more than thirty years. During the politically, economically, and tactically difficult time that followed the collapse of the USSR in the early 1990s, the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces of today were established.
The 1990s proved to be an incredibly challenging time for the Strategic Rocket Forces, as it was for the other armed forces as well. In addition to budget and resource reductions, the country’s political leadership betrayed and humiliated the troops by imposing political restrictions on missile deployments, inviting US officials to tour top-secret facilities, and stealing top military scientists.
Nevertheless, as former Strategic Rocket Forces veteran and missile expert Vladimir Evseev recalled in a media interview in 2020, it was during the difficult 1990s, when the rest of the military was demoralized and Russia seemed at its lowest, that the missile troops gave Moscow a guaranteed strategic response capability against foreign aggression. The Topol-series of ICBMs in particular proved crucial, Evseev said, given their short boost phase, which made them practically impervious to enemy missile defenses of the time.
The goal of the Strategic Rocket Forces troops is still the same but with new capabilities in response to the West bloc’s attempts to encircle Russia with missile defenses. This is because Russia’s conventional military is currently recuperating and the country’s political leadership has made it clear that it views NATO as a threat rather than a partner. But we’ll talk about this in greater detail below.
“These are the main forces ensuring deterrence against the enemy from a possible nuclear attack. We are not menaced with such a threat,” Russian Academy of Rocket and Artillery Sciences member Konstantin Sivkov told Sputnik, when asked for comment on the Strategic Rocket Forces’ modern mission and purpose.
“A large-scale NATO attack is also deterred by our nuclear forces…The Strategic Rocket Forces, together with our fleet, are the only reliable guarantor ensuring the prevention of a large-scale war” between Russia and its potential adversaries, Sivkov said.
According to Russia, what NATO is doing in Asia is trying to keep China in check by expanding its presence in the Asia-Pacific region.
Russia’s nuclear doctrine prohibits the preemptive use of nuclear weapons of any kind, tactical or strategic, absent an enemy attack involving the use of nuclear weapons or conventional aggression so severe that it threatens the survival of the country. This is in contrast to the US, whose nuclear doctrine permits preemptive nuclear attacks, even against non-nuclear adversaries.
“Russia’s nuclear missile forces are the best in the world,” said Soviet and Russian Army veteran, reserve colonel, and military expert Andrei Koshkin.
The observer explained that Russia played catch-up with the US, developing new weapons and delivery systems about five years after the US did, dating back decades to the beginning of the nuclear era.
“In other words, they would create the bomb, and in five years we would do so. They would create a thermonuclear device, and we would do so five years later. They would upgrade their delivery means, and then so would we. That is, we were always forced to play catch-up. But now, thanks to our hypersonic missile systems, we have come out on top in the world. The Strategic Rocket Forces pose an existential threat to the United States,” Koshkin said.
Russia started to resurrect potential hypersonic weapon designs from the storied Mashinostroyenia and Raduga design bureaus from the 1970s and 1980s in 2002, following Washington’s unilateral termination of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and its subsequent efforts to build a nuclear shield to counter Russian intercontinental missile defense systems. The result of this was the development of nearly six sophisticated strategic weapons platforms, one of which is the Avangard, a hypersonic glider platform that can be deployed in the Bulava, Yars, Topol M, and Sarmat strategic missiles.
No air defense system in the world can stop the kinetic weapon, therefore Russia is assured of being able to respond to enemy assault thanks to the Avangard’s unceasing speed (up to Mach 27, according to claims) and maneuverability while in flight. When combined with the Sarmat, the weapon becomes an unparalleled striking system without a counterpart anywhere in the globe.
“The Sarmat is a unique, silo-based, fifth-generation intercontinental ballistic missile, coming in to replace the Voevoda, which is approaching obsolescence. It’s being replaced by the Sarmat and the Avangard glide vehicle…This is an existential threat to the United States because they in principle do not have such weapons…There are only two countries in the world with a nuclear triad – the United States and the Russian Federation. And today, no one else, including the United States, has nuclear weapon carrier systems better than ours,” Koshkin said.
Koshkin recalled the speech President Putin gave in March 2018 to introduce Russia’s potential new strategic weapons systems. He said that at first, Western observers ridiculed the systems, calling them “3D animated cartoons,” and “laughed about them for a whole year.”
“But very interestingly, no one is laughing at any of the projects that were shown anymore. Why? Because they all turned out to be real, and surpassed the capabilities of the delivery means available to the United States,” the observer added.
Cooling America’s Passions
“If we’re talking about the Strategic Rocket in the context of the start of the special military operation [in Ukraine, ed.] the corresponding exercises of formations and their movement were conducted to the appropriate levels of readiness. This proved sufficient to calm and to cool the ardor of the United States from possible efforts to put pressure on Russia,” Koshkin said.
Furthermore, the expert thinks that Moscow has an opportunity to further strengthen its lead in strategic weapons systems because President Biden seems to be more passionate about using American military resources to fuel conflicts around the world, from Ukraine to Israel and perhaps Taiwan next, “than on modernizing the US’s nuclear forces.”
“We are already working on systems that could neutralize the hypersonic missile threat,” the observer said. “And of course, the world is watching with bated breath the development of the Burevestnik cruise missile. This is a unique system, and the only system of its kind with a nuclear engine. Consequently, it has an unlimited flight range…This is a high-tech branch of the military and, of course, determines the country’s level of readiness to ensure its security.”
The Strategic Rocket Forces are one of the main instruments keeping Washington from utilizing its significant strategic and other weapons to destroy or dismantle Russia in the US’s ongoing hybrid war against it.
“We don’t engage in saber-rattling, but simply say that we are reliably protected,” especially amid “the unbridled chaos in the world that the Americans are now trying to create around the Russian Federation,” Koshkin summed up.