topolm.jpgOh, super. Just super. Not only is a dictator now in charge of Russia. But the guy wants to develop new, nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, according to the AP.

Speaking at a meeting of the Armed Forces' leadership, Putin reportedly said that Russia is researching and successfully testing new nuclear missile systems.``I am sure that ... they will be put in service within the next few years and, what is more, they will be developments of the kind that other nuclear powers do not and will not have,'' Putin was quoted as saying by the ITAR-Tass news agency.Putin reportedly said: ``International terrorism is one of the major threats for Russia. We understand as soon as we ignore such components of our defense as a nuclear and missile shield, other threats may occur.''No details were immediately available, but Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said earlier this month that Russia expected to test-fire a mobile version of its Topol-M ballistic missile this year and that production of the new weapon could be commissioned in 2005.News reports have also said Russia is believed to be developing a next-generation heavy nuclear missile that could carry up to 10 nuclear warheads weighing a total of 4.4 tons, compared with the Topol-M's 1.32-ton combat payload.Topol-Ms have been deployed in silos since 1998. The missiles have a range of about 6,000 miles and reportedly can maneuver in ways that are difficult to detect.
Anybody wanna bet how long it'll take for the White House or the Pentagon to say this proves the need for its missile defense array -- even though the system is so lame, it can't be tested?THERE'S MORE: "This is not something that we look at as new," White House press secretary Scott McCllelan now says. "We are very well aware of their long-standing modernization efforts for their military. ... We are allies now in the global war on terrorism."AND MORE: The Russian military has been working for a number of years, now, on missiles that can juke American interceptors, Jeffrey Lewis notes. In December 2003, "a source on the Russian General Staff told Interfax that every Topol-M [missile] will be outfitted with... the capability of launching decoys."Last February, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists observes, the Russians successfully tested "a new hypersonic 'Crazy Ivan' warhead that follows a nonclassical scenario, changing flight altitude and course repeatedly, making it nearly impossible to track and target. Putin declared Russia able to penetrate any missile defense system with ease."AND MORE: Putin refers to his new missile as some sort of anti-terrorist weapon. That's like calling TNT a cockroach fighter. As "Retired SSBN" mentions in the Defense Tech forum, ICBMs don't have a damn thing to do with fighting Al-Qaeda & Co.AND MORE: "If you can't think of novel uses for ICBMs, you're not trying very hard," TM Lutas says over in the Defense Tech forum.
Steven Den Beste once noted that we could win 10 simultaneous wars with today's military. It's just that 8 of those wars would have to be nuclear. For example, An ICBM at Tora Bora would have settled matters quickly, removed a relatively remote bit of land from productive use and ensured that no urban area would tolerate terrorists active against the launching power, whether it's the US or Russia.
Apparently, some in the Pentagon agree -- sort of. About a year ago, Defense Department planners handed out contracts to 10 firms to start designing a hypersonic missile that can outrun the now-retired Concorde, and can hit a terrorist nest in Europe from the East Coast.
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