SS-27 / Topol-M

November 23, 2015 By Kristin Horitski


Russia began deploying an updated version of the SS-25, the Topol-M (RS-12M1) / SS-27, in 1997. The Topol-M carries a single 500 kT nuclear warhead and has a range of 10,500 km. [1] The Topol-M is a ground-based ICBM and can be housed and launched from an underground silo or Transporter-Erector-Launcher (TEL) vehicle, making it road-mobile. The Topol-M’s navigation system is directed by an onboard GLONASS (Russian GPS) receiver increasing the accuracy of the missile, and the burn-time of the missile’s engine is minimized to help avoid detection by missile defense systems. [2] The missile also carries countermeasures and targeting decoys, and is capable of evasive maneuvers during the terminal phase to avoid missile interceptors. The Topol-M is also protected from radiation and electromagnetic interference (or electromagnetic pulse), and has a short boost phase to reduce its vulnerability to laser weapon systems. [3]

Strategic Implications

Russia’s analysis of the ability of the Topol-M to out-maneuver ballistic missile defense systems makes it a very real threat to U.S. and allied security interests both at home and abroad. The deployment of the Topol-M gives Russia an advantage in outmaneuvering missile defense systems for a first-strike capability and the ability of the Topol-M to be relocated and launched from virtually anywhere in Russia adds to its survivability.


[1] RS-12M1 Topol-M (SS-27). Missile Threat. Last updated December 5, 2012.

[2] Topol-M Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), Russia. Army Technology.

[3] Ibid.

Missile Threat and Proliferation


International Cooperation