Designed to replace the SS-25 “Sickle”, the SS-27 Topol-M was first deployed in 1997. The Topol-M is the first ICBM Russia produced since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Although the first Topol-M’s were deployed in (nuclear attack resistant) silo’s, the missile can also be carried by the MZKT-79221 all-terrain 16-wheeled vehicle (unlike the SS-25, which was carried by the shorter, 14 wheeled MAZ-7917) and has been deployed on such vehicles since 2006.
The Topol-M is designed to penetrate any anti-ICBM defense system. The missile does this using two method. Firstly, the Topol-M’s engine burns out quickly after launch, allowing it to avoid detection by satellites. It also has a flat trajectory, which makes it nearly impossible to intercept. Secondly, the Topol-M is able to carry MIRV warheads, which can carry up to six smaller warheads, as well as decoys. The missile has defensive countermeasures and can make evasive maneuvers, which makes it nearly unstoppable against EMP waves and nuclear blasts at distances exceeding 500 meters, as well as the ability to survive laser hits.
The Russian military is currently equipped with over 86 advanced ICBMs, consisting of Topol-M’s and a small amount of the even more capable RS-24 YARS missiles. Meanwhile, SS-25 missiles continue to be tested and upgraded to extend their service life. New mobile Topol-M’s will no longer be produced, with the RS-24 set to become Russia’s main mobile ICBM system. None of these systems will be threatened by the new START-2 treaty.