MOSCOW, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Russia's top general Tuesday praised the main ICBM that has targeted the United States for the past 20 years.
Four star Army Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, the Chief of the Russian general Staff, told the official Russian government newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta in an interview that the famous RS-20 Voyevoda missile systems -- NATO code name SS-18 Satan -- was unique. He also told the paper that plans to extend the operational life of the weapons by 20 years were progressing well, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.
"Maintaining these intercontinental ballistic missiles on combat duty with guaranteed nuclear security makes it possible to re-tool the ground element of the strategic nuclear forces with new armaments with lower expenditure," Baluyevsky said.
Baluyevsky was speaking the day after Gen. Nikoali Solovtsov, head of Russia's Strategic Missile Forces, had announced his missiles could target any ballistic missile defense bases that the United States and its allies might set up in Central Europe.
The RS-20 can carry up to 10 independently-targeted multiple re-entry vehicle warheads, each one capable of destroying a city with a thermonuclear weapon.
The Strategic Missile Forces "conducted Dec. 21 a successful test launch of a RS-20V Voyevoda ... intercontinental ballistic missile. The launch was conducted to test the RS-20V's flight and technical characteristics to extend the service life of the R-36M2 missile systems from 19 to 20 years," RIA Novosti said.
"The RS-20V Voyevoda was developed in Ukraine's design bureau Yuzhnoye. In 1988, the system, equipped with this missile, was adopted by the Missile Forces," the news agency said. "The missile has a maximum flight range of 6,840 miles and a launch weight of 211 metric tons," it said.