(Reuters) – Russia will double the number of test launches of its intercontinental ballistic missiles from four in 2022 to eight in 2023, the commander of the strategic rocket forces said on Friday.
Sergei Karakayev told the military newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda that the eight test flights would be scheduled from two launch sites: one near Murmansk in the north and the other near Volgograd in the south.
In comments reported by the Tass news agency, Karakayev said four launches had been carried out this year and “confirmed the high reliability of the missile systems.”
Under the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty, which entered into force in 2011, both Russia and the United States are limited to 700 ICBMs each.
Karakayev cited in particular the nuclear-capable Sarmat missile that was first launched in April from Plesetsk in northern Russia, hitting a target on the Kamchatka peninsula 6,000 km (3,700 miles) away.
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Sarmat had been in development for years, but the April test came at a time of extreme international tension, weeks after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, now in its 10th month.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the time that there was no comparable missile and that it would “strengthen the combat potential of our armed forces.”
In his comments to Krasnaya Zvezda, Karakayev said that the Sarmat would form the basis of the silo-based missile arsenal.
“In the current circumstances, the creation of such a missile system for Russia means the strengthening of its strategic security,” he said.
(Reporting by Ron Popeski; Editing by David Ljunggren and Grant McCool)
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