Russia Test-Fires Top Missile

The Russian military successfully test-fired a mobile version of its top-of-the-line Topol-M (search) intercontinental ballistic missile on Friday, officials said.

The missile was fired from a mobile launcher at the Plesetsk launch pad in the northern region of Arkhangelsk and hit a designated target on a testing range on the far eastern Kamchatka peninsula, Russia's Strategic Missile Forces said in a statement.

Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov (search), Economics Minister German Gref and other top officials attended the launch.

Friday's launch is expected to be the last of four test-firings of the Topol-M's mobile version before its deployment set for next year, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.

The Topol-M missiles, capable of hitting targets more than 6,000 miles away, have been in silos since 1998 and about 40 are on duty now, according to military officials.

Russian media reports have said the missile lifts off faster than its predecessors and maneuvers in a way that makes it more difficult to spot and intercept. It is also reportedly capable of blasting off even after a nuclear explosion close to its silo.

"The missile can penetrate all invented and even yet to be invented missile systems, including those equipped with space-based elements, with high probability," said Yuri Solomonov, who heads the Moscow Institute of Thermal Systems (search) which designed and manufactured the missile.

The deployed Topol-Ms have been fitted with single nuclear warheads, but officials have mentioned plans to equip each missile with three individually targeted warheads.

President Vladimir Putin (search) has said Russia is developing new strategic nuclear weapons excelling anything which other nations have. Military analysts have said the new weapon would likely be based on the Topol-M.