MOSCOW - Russia on Thursday said it had successfully test-fired an RS-20V intercontinental ballistic missile as part of a wider attempt to extend the lifespan of its Soviet-era nuclear arsenal.
"The launch was carried out as part of experimental construction work aimed at confirming the flight characteristics of the RS-20V missile and to extend its life span to 23 years," Russia's Strategic Missile Forces said in a statement.
The 22-tonne RS-20V missile hit a target on the Kamchatka peninsular on Russia's Pacific coast after being fired from the Orenburg region, more than 6,500 km away, a spokesman for the Strategic Missile Forces said.
The missile, which can pierce missile defence systems and is known in the West as the SS-18 "Satan", was seen by the United States as one of the Soviet Union's most dangerous "first strike" nuclear weapons.
The 34-metre and can carry at least 10 nuclear warheads.
Russia, which is trying to build several new types of missiles, says extending the life of its Soviet-era missiles is a cost-effective way to preserve nuclear parity with the United States.
The RS-20V missile, known in Russia as the Voyevoda, was initially intended to be used for 15 years but Russia has kept the missiles deployed.
"The extension of the lifespan of the Voyevoda to 25 years will allow us to extend its service by 10 years," the Strategic Missile Forces said, adding that the missile fired on Thursday had been in Russia's arsenal for more than 21 years.
Earlier this year, the commander of the missile forces was quoted by Russian media as saying Russia wanted to keep the RS-20V in service until 2019.
Russia and the United States are working on a new treaty to cut vast Cold War arsenals of nuclear weapons and say a deal could be reached next year.