The modernized “Yars-S” goes to the troops

Mobile ground missile system “Yars” of the Tagil missile formation, photo of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation

On January 28, 2021, in the report on the Single Day of Military Acceptance, information was provided that in December last year, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation adopted 11 new intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) of various basing types. Experts believe that we are supposedly talking about nine mobile ground missile systems “Yars-S” and two ICBMs with aeroballistic hypersonic combat equipment (AGBO) “Avangard”.

As part of the event, according to Major General Alexander Prokopenkov, who is the commander of the Barnaul division of the Strategic Missile Forces, it became known that the rearmament of the compound in Barnaul to the modernized Yars-S complex will be fully completed by the end of 2021. There was also information about the completion of the rearmament of the third – 307th regiment of the 35th Barnaul missile division at the Yars-S PGRK, the fourth regiment of this division will receive similar complexes by the end of the year.

Despite the fact that the Yars complexes have been in service since 2009, there is practically no official information about them due to the secrecy of the development. The complex is based on a solid-propellant intercontinental ballistic missile with a multiple warhead. The rocket was developed by MIT – Moscow Institute of Heat Engineering. The missile is an improved version of the Topol-M missile complex in all respects. In the future, it is the Yars complexes that will form the basis of the Russian strike group of the Strategic Missile Forces.

The unification of the missiles of the complex with the Topol ICBM family made it possible to reduce the costs of manufacturing and operating the latest Russian strategic complexes. The assembly of ICBMs of the RS-24 Yars complex has been established in the Udmurt Republic at the Votkinsk Machine-Building Plant, and the only foreign element in the complex is a 16×16 chassis, which is produced in the Republic of Belarus at the well-known MZKT – Minsk Wheel Tractor Plant.

The modernized
Photo: Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation

According to the commander of the Strategic Missile Forces, Colonel-General Sergei Karakaev, the name of the modern Russian strategic missile complex Yars stands for “nuclear deterrent missile.” Experts believe that in the modernized version of the Yars-S complex, the letter “C” presumably means “medium power”.

The Yars-S complex once became a surprise for experts

For the first time, the military spoke about the Yars-S complex during the Single Day of Military Acceptance in October 2019. For military experts, the presentation of the new complex was then a real surprise. Speaking about the features and characteristics of the new strategic missile system, a military expert, Doctor of Military Sciences Konstantin Sivkov, in an interview with RIA Novosti, suggested that Yars-S probably has more powerful warheads than its predecessor.

All the characteristics of the complex at that time were classified. It was only known that the complex was also available in both mobile and mine versions. Experts interviewed by the RIA Novosti agency found it difficult to comment on the new strategic missile system, citing the fact that they had not heard anything about it before.

The only one who gave the agency a comment at that time was Konstantin Sivkov, who admitted that he himself had not heard anything about the new Russian military development until October 2019. According to Sivkov:

The modernization of any modern missile systems can be carried out in two main directions. The first is to implement a higher targeting accuracy. Second, in the use of more advanced warheads, their throw weight can also be slightly increased.

What we learned about the Yars-S complex in 2021

Almost two years later, very little is known about the modernized version of the Yars-S strategic missile system. Most of the information about the complex remains classified. At the same time, at the end of January 2021, the Russian Ministry of Defense for the first time published at least some data on the missile range of the complex and its characteristics.

Launch of the RS-24 “Yars” rocket at the Plesetsk test site, frame from the video of the RF Ministry of Defense, 2017

Information about the newest mobile ground-based missile system Yars-S was presented on a slide that was shown as part of the speech of Alexei Krivoruchko, who holds the post of Deputy Minister of Defense of Russia. As in 2019, information about the complex appeared on the Single Day of Acceptance of Military Products, which took place on Friday, January 29.

Like its predecessor, the modernized Yars-S complex is based on solid-propellant ballistic missiles, which are a further modernization of the Topol-M ICBMs. From the presented slide it is known that the diameter of the Yars-S missile is 1.86 m, the length is 17.8 m. The launch mass of the carrier is 46 tons with a payload of 1.25 tons. It is stated that the Yars-S complex is capable of hitting targets on the territory of a potential enemy at a distance of up to 10 thousand kilometers from the launch site.

In fact, this was the first time that the characteristics of the Yars complexes were officially presented. Until this moment, if such information was found in various sources, it was not official. At the same time, theoretically, some characteristics of the Yars complexes, which can be found today in the vastness of the network, are higher than those presented at the Single Day of Acceptance of Military Equipment.

For example, on the popular scientific research resource, which specializes in the history of Soviet and Russian military equipment, you can find the characteristics of the Yars missiles. At the same time, it should be noted that, given the secrecy of such information, it is meaningless to claim 100% reliability in this matter.

In particular, about the missiles of the Yars complex it was previously known that their estimated length is from 21.9 to 22.55 m, without a head section – 17 m. With the same diameter of 1.86 m, the launch mass of the missiles could reach 47 200 kg, throw weight – 1180-1250 kg, maximum range – 11-12 thousand kilometers. The circular probable deviation was estimated at 150 m.

The Yars strategic missile system was put into service in 2009; in March 2011, the first regiment, re-equipped with new complexes, took up combat duty. The mobile installation of this missile system is equipped with a three-stage solid-propellant ballistic missile, the main difference of which from the Topol-M missiles is a multiple warhead with individual guidance units.

It was reported that the carrier is able to deliver up to 6 blocks with a capacity of 150 kt of a single type with a sea-based Bulava missile or up to 3-4 warheads with a capacity of 300-500 kt each. On the resource, it is assumed that the Yars-S strategic complex missile carries three medium-class warheads with a capacity of 300-500 kt.

At the moment, in the Strategic Missile Forces of Russia, on experimental combat duty, the modernized Yars-S complexes are located in Yoshkar-Ola and in Barnaul. In the future, all domestic missile divisions as part of the Strategic Missile Forces are planned to be fully re-equipped with modernized missile systems, both silo and mobile.

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