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As regional tension rises, Russia revives their Cold War era nuclear missile trains.

Posted by Emily O'Dowd on Dec 4, 2016

It may seem like something out of aThe latest Barguzin trains will be modelled on the old Barguzin trains in operation in 1969. James Bond film or Tom Clancy thriller, but Russia are in the process of reviving their Cold War nuclear train. The plans outlined for the mobile missile mission were first proposed two years ago and the latest news on the project is that they were successfully tested last month. These nuclear trains could be used in military intervention as soon as 2018 after further testing has been conducted. Last year the government owned daily newspaper reported that these trains will be travelling around 600 miles a day and remain hidden to avoid detection from planes and satellites. The mobile weapons platform consists of several train carriages which conceal six Yars or Yars-M thermonuclear ICBMs, which have a huge mile range with command units. The Iskander missile could hit targets as far away as Berlin, Poland and Sweden. Once fully operational, Russian officials have predicted that they will remain in operation until 2040.

The idea was first proposed in 1969 with the Barguzin system in the Soviet era, but these new and improved nuclear trains will have better accuracy and range. The first Soviet Union design had 12 of these trains which could each fire three nuclear missiles. However, in 1993, these trains ended operation and were finally disposed of between 2003 - 2005. This new railway based missile platform is said to be named 'Barguzin' after the strong eastern wind that blows off Russia’s largest fresh water lake in the world, Lake Baikal. In the new designs, once the system is operated the train carriage roofs can open and fire missiles. The vehicles will be disguised as ordinary passenger or freight trains capable of travelling at speeds of 100km/h across Russia’s expansive rail network.

In a report from Sputnik, the Russian military industry official Viktor Murakhovsky explained the benefits of the next-generation nuke trains: “They will not need any specific big cars. They will completely coincide with the existing parameters of railcars and will therefore be completely hidden from a foe’s reconnaissance and surveillance. Moreover, the system will enable launches virtually everywhere on the railway bed in contrast with the previous system that required special launch conditions.”

The missiles onboard the trains are normally launched from the road, but these trains mean they will be able to travel further in much less time. Weighing less than 47 tonnes, this will make the new models much more efficient than previous Barguzin designs. This means that each train, of which five are currently planned, could hold 24 thermonuclear warheads.

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What has accelerated the testing of Russia's nuclear trains?

This military advancement was triggered following an announcement by a senior Russian MP who said the deploymemt of nuclear-capable missiles to the Kaliningrad exclave had created concerns for Russia about North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)'s decision making. As a result, Moscow will deploy S-400 surface-to-air missiles and nuclear-capable Iskander missiles to the exclave, which borders Poland and Lithuania. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country will move missiles closer to Europe over "concern" about NATO expansion. President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters that the Russian military needs to respond to what he described as Nato's aggressive moves. 


In an article written by the Independent, President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov spoke out how "Russia is doing what is necessary to protect itself amid Nato's expansion toward its borders. The alliance is a truly aggressive bloc, so Russia does what it has to do. It has every sovereign right to take necessary measures throughout the territory of the Russian Federation."

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Topics: projects

Emily O'Dowd

Written by Emily O'Dowd

On graduating with a degree in English Literature at Royal Holloway University of London, Emily joined the editorial team. When she isn't writing articles for the website or interviewing experts in the industry she enjoys reading, running and sailing.

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