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Russian Steps To Overcome U.S. Missile Defenses

May 10, 2016 (EIRNS)—On May 12, NATO will declare its first land-based ballistic missile defense site in Deveselu, Romania, officially operational. While the exact capabilities of the installation and the intentions behind it are still the subject of some debate, Moscow will not ignore it, nor the general direction of the US global missile defense deployment. More broadly, Gen. Sergei Karakayev, commander of Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces, in remarks reported by Tass this morning, said that Russia will continue to pay attention to penetrating U.S. missile defenses in the development of its new intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

"This is conditioned by the fact that the United States is not stopping after what it has achieved and continues improving its missile defense system, including the deployment of its elements in Europe. That is why, special attention in the development of new missile complexes is paid to the issue of overcoming the missile shield,"

Karakayev said. According to Karakayev, threats from the US missile defense system in Europe do not critically reduce combat capabilities of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces, because Russian missiles are constantly upgraded.

As for the future combat capability of the SMF, Karakayev indicated that by 2021, the RS-24 Yars—a multiple-warhead version of the older Topol M missile—in both mobile versions and silos, will make up about half of the SMF ICBM force. He also reported that the Sarmat heavy ICBM, currently under development to replace the RS-36M (NATO designation SS-18), will be deployed "with the Uzhur missile division and in the Dombarovskiy deployment area." Russian nuclear weapons expert Pavel Podvig reports that this isn’t really news, as these are probably the only bases that can accomodate the Sarmat. Podvig also reports that due to delays in testing, the Sarmat isn’t likely to be ready for deployment before 2020.

Apparently not mentioned by Karaakayev but likely to play an important role in the SMF’s future, is the hypersonic vehicle under development in Russia as "Project 4202." Shawn Snow, a Marine Corps veteran and specialist in Middle Eastern affairs, complained in an op-ed posted in Real Clear Defense, yesterday, that the US is falling behind both Russia and China in the development of hypersonic technology. Further development of hypersonic weapons by Russia and China further develops their anti-access/area denial capabilities, Snow warns.

"If the U.S. does not counter these developments it will quickly find itself choked off from the Baltic and South China Seas, unable to challenge Russia and China," he concludes.

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