Sources in Russia have confirmed that Russia is to resume building and deployment of train based Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM’s). The announcement confirms a rumour that surfaced in 2012. It is unknown why the former soviet union is returning to this type of launch platform however it does provide clear benefits against counter-strikes due to their ability to be moved around the country, much the same way as the Topol-M ICBM which is carried on a road based mobile launcher.
The old soviet train based missiles were based on the SS24 Scalpel ICBM which required 3 locomotives to pull the trains which consisted of a launch control car, a security car, a spares car and of course, the missile car. This made the trains easy to spot using both satellite and spy plane surveillance. All soviet missile trains were destroyed under the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty II (START II) however the same treaty does not ban future development of the rail based launch platform.
It is likely that the new missiles will be around half the size and weight of the SS24 thanks to modern propulsion systems and likely to carry single mid-size nuclear warheads and the decision is believed to be in response to the NATO missile defence systems. However many prominent advisor’s in Moscow think that this is out of date technology is simply a “Bad Idea”
One thing is for sure, next time you are in Moscow, it might be worth checking to make sure your on the right train!