The RT-2PM2 (Russian: РТ-2ПМ2 «Тополь-М», NATO reporting name: SS-27 “Sickle B”, other designations: RS-12M1, RS-12M2, formerly incorrectly RT-2UTTKh) is one of the most recent intercontinental ballistic missiles to be deployed by Russia (see RS-24), and the first to be developed after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. It was developed from the RT-2PM Topol mobile intercontinental ballistic missile.
In its Russian designation РТ stands for “ракета твердотопливная”, raketa tverdotoplivnaya (“solid fuel rocket”), while УТТХ – for “улучшенные тактико-технические характеристики,” uluchshenniye taktiko-tekhnicheskie kharakteristiki (“improved tactical and technical characteristics”). “Topol” (тополь) in Russian means “white poplar”. It is designed and produced exclusively by the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology, and built at the Votkinsk Machine Building Plant.
The development of the missile began in the late 1980s as a response to the American Strategic Defense Initiative. Initially an evolutionary upgrade of the RS-12M Topol, the missile was redesigned in 1992. The missile’s principal designer was Yuri Solomonov, who would later oversee the development of the RSM-56 Bulava.
The first flight test took place on December 20, 1994, during which the missile, launched from Plesetsk, hit its target 4,000 miles (6,400 km) away. Two missiles were put on experimental combat duty in December 1997 at Tatishchevo. The fifth test flight on 22 October 1998 was unsuccessful as the missile exploded after being launched; the sixth test flight two months later was successful. The 104th Regiment of the Taman Missile Division, based in Saratov, introduced 10 missiles into service on 30 December 1998; another ten entered service with a second regiment in December 1999.
Silo launcher Topol-M entered service by presidential decree on 13 July 2000, the third, fourth and fifth regiments entered service in 2000, 2003 and 2005. The last regiment was to arrive in 2012.
On December 12, 2006 the first three mobile Topol-M missile systems entered duty with a missile unit stationed near the town of Teykovo.
By the end of 2010 the Russian Strategic Missile Troops operated 70 Topol-M missile systems including 52 silo-based and 18 mobile systems. A further 8 missiles were to join the Forces by 2011–2012.
According to Russia the missile is designed to be immune to any current or planned U.S. missile defense system. It is claimed to be capable of making evasive maneuvers to avoid a kill by interceptors, and carries targeting countermeasures and decoys.
One of the Topol-M’s most notable features is its short engine burn time following take-off, intended to minimize satellite detection of launches and thereby complicate both early warning and interception by missile defense systems during boost phase. The missile also has a relatively flat ballistic trajectory, complicating defense acquisition and interception.
According to The Washington Times, Russia has conducted a successful test of the evasive payload delivery system.nThe missile was launched on November 1, 2005 from the Kapustin Yar facility. The warhead changed course after separating from the launcher, making it difficult to predict a re-entry trajectory.