Russia unveils land-based missile programme
Russia’s defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, has called for the development of land-based intermediate-range missiles by 2021.
He told the military to adapt existing technology to develop cruise and hypersonic missiles that would previously have been banned by the intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) treaty.
The agreement is credited with helping to keep nuclear-capable missiles off European soil.
Shoigu said adapting the existing Kalibr cruise missile (pictured) for land would save time and money in developing mid-range arms.
The US and Russia abandoned the Cold War treaty at the weekend.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he would not participate in an arms race with the US.
However, Shoigu, during his briefing at the military’s high-tech “war room” in Moscow, said he had called for his ministry to develop the weapons by adapting missiles to be land-launched.
This week Moscow reported a “dazzling” night weapon had been deployed on two naval vessels that produced high-intensity strobe lights that could temporarily blind, cause disorientation and induce vomiting in an enemy force.
The INF limited land-based missiles, which the Kremlin has claimed was advantageous to the Pentagon.
Donald Trump has accused Moscow of violating the INF treaty with “impunity” by developing a prohibited missile.
Trump proposed a new treaty to include India and China during his State of the Union address.
The populist told Congress: “Perhaps we can negotiate a different agreement, adding China and others, or perhaps we can’t.”
The US is currently developing its first new long-range nuclear missiles since 1991.
Russia says the US missile defence and drone capabilities constitute a violation of the 1987 agreement.
China, which did not sign the agreement, is developing missiles within the 500 to 5,500km range banned under the deal.
“Ground-launched modifications of sea- and air-launched missiles will significantly cut the production period of new missile systems and reduce the production budget,” Shoigu said, according to the Russian media.
Russia has a nuclear-capable cruise missile called the Kalibr, which has been launched in repeated naval strikes at Syria since 2015. With a range of at least 2,500km, the Kalibr could reach most of continental Europe and Britain from western Russia or Kaliningrad on the Baltic coast.
Russian is reportedly trying to extend the range to 4,500km.
Shoigu said new missiles should have hypersonic technology to push them more than five times the speed of sound. Russia said last year that it was developing several hypersonic missiles.
Kalibr cruise missiles. Picture credit: Wikimedia