RS-12M Topol (SS-25 Sickle)

March 2017 Anthony Persisco

Facts[i]  [ii]

Russian/NATO Designation RS-12M Topol/SS-25 Sickle
Mobility and Role Road-Mobile Intercontinental Ballistic Missile
Developer/Country Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology, Russian Federation
Years in Development 1977-1985
Weight ~45,000 Kilograms
Length/Diameter 21.5m/1.8m
Warhead(s) 1 Nuclear Warhead
Stages/Propellant Three Stage, Solid Fuel
Range/Circular Error Probable 11,000km/~300m
Status 72 units deployed, currently being phased out and replaced by the RS-12M2 (NATO: SS-27 Sickle B)


The RS-12M (Topol) is a Russian road mobile ICBM. Development of this weapon system was begun by the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technologies in 1977. Evolving from the RSD-10 intermediate range ballistic missile, this system is similar in size and shape to the United States’ LGM-30 Minuteman ICBM. The RS-12M was declared operational and deployed with the Russian Strategic Rocket Force in 1985. The three stage rocket has a range of approximately 11,000 kilometers and a maximum warhead weight of 1,000 kilograms. While the missile is MIRV-capable, and has been armed as such in the past, it is currently deployed with just a single warhead.  The RS-12M is also fitted with decoys and is considered to be capable of defeating missile defense systems.  [iii]

The late 1990s saw in excess of 350 RS-12Ms within the Russian Strategic Forces arsenal. As of January 2016, it is believed that only 72 of these missiles remain in service. The RS-12M has long exceeded its service life, and is expected to be fully replaced with the RS-12M2 (Topol-M) by 2020. [iv]


2020: Planned phase out date.

2016: 72 units believed to remain in service.

2010: Roughly when the service life of the RS-12Ms is maxed out.

1996: Full deployment of 350+ RS-12Ms is attained.

1988: The deployment of the RS-12M begins in earnest.

1985: The RS-12M is declared operational.

1977: The development of the RS-12M begins.






Missile Threat and Proliferation