R-29RM / SS-N-23

December 15, 2015 By Kristin Horitski

Development

The R-29RM / SS-N-23 Skiff is a liquid propelled, submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) deployed on Project 667BDRM Delfin class (Delta IV) submarines. The SS-N-23 has a range of up to 8,300 km and is generally outfitted with four MIRVs, although it has the ability to carry up to 10 warheads. [1] Each Delta IV submarine has up to 16 SS-N-23 missiles, which can be fired from a depth of 55m. [2]

The SS-N-23 was first deployed aboard Delta IV submarines in 1986, with seven submarines carrying 112 missiles by 1991. [3] In 1998, Russian began a life-extension upgrade program to the Skiff called the Sineva. The program concluded in 2007 and the Sineva was successfully tested-fired in December 2007. [4] Since 2007, Russia successfully test-launched the Sineva in 2010, 2011, 2014 and 2015. In December 2015 the submarine, Verkhoturye, fired a Sineva missile from a submerged position in the Barents Sea to the Kura Test Range in Russia’s Far East. [5]

Strategic Implications

The upgraded Sineva carried by Delta IV class submarines currently forms a large part of Russia’s sea-based nuclear deterrent. These missiles however, will slowly be phased out as they are replaced by the new Bulava missiles and Borei class submarines after 2020. [6]

Russia has also used R-29RM components for space-launch purposes and other missions. A number of decommissioned R-29RM missiles have been modified into Shtil missiles used for space launches. In July 1998 and May 2006, Russia used Delta IV submarines and Shtil missiles to send small scientific satellites into low-earth orbit. [7]

References

[1] “R-29RM / SS-N-23 SKIF.” Federation of American Scientists. Last updated November 22, 1999. http://fas.org/nuke/guide/russia/slbm/r29rm.htm.

[2] “667BDRM Dolphin DELTA IV.” Federation of American Scientists. Last updated July 13, 2000. http://fas.org/nuke/guide/russia/slbm/667BDRM.htm.

[3] “R-29RM / SS-N-23 SKIF.” Federation of American Scientists. Last updated November 22, 1999. http://fas.org/nuke/guide/russia/slbm/r29rm.htm.

[4] “R-29RMU / R-29RGU / RSM-54 Sineva / SS-N-23 SKIFF.” Global Security.  http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/russia/r29rmu.htm.

[5] “Russian Sub Test-Fires Sineva Intercontinental Missile From Barents Sea.” Sputnik. December 12, 2015. http://sputniknews.com/military/20151212/1031635691/sineva-missile-submarine-russia-video.html.

[6] “Submerged Russian nuclear sub test-fires strategic Sineva missile.” RT. November 5, 2014.  https://www.rt.com/news/202439-sineva-missile-test-submarine/

[7] “Shtil.” Space Launch Report. Last updated June 14, 2006. http://www.spacelaunchreport.com/shtil.html.

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