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Atomic Train Barguzin – Putin's Weapon on the Rails

Atomic Train Barguzin – Putin's Weapon on the Rails
foto: Marina Lystseva; Train Barguzin – Putin's Weapon on the Rails
19 / 06 / 2023

Project RS-27 or SS-X-32Zh Barguzin BZhRK (БЖРК) is a rail-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) being developed for the Russian RVSN, as a replacement for the previous Molodets BZhRK SS-24 Scalpel missile train. BZhRK stands for strategic missile train. The missile was originally expected to enter testing in 2019 and service in 2020.

Although trains armed with nuclear missiles are difficult to track, they have many costly limitations that make them inferior to nuclear weapons. Moscow may be looking for redundancy in its ability to trigger a retaliatory nuclear holocaust, but the Barguzin was ultimately deemed too outdated and expensive given its slashed defence budget.

The concept of mobile rail-mounted nuclear weapons was conceived decades ago based on the idea that a mobile nuclear delivery vehicle is much more difficult for an enemy to hit with a preemptive strike, making it more likely to deter the enemy. This principle has made submarines loaded with ballistic missiles the most effective form of nuclear deterrence.

The development of the Barguzin nuclear train has been underway since 2012 and should be able to hold up to 6 RS-24 ICBMs. The system should be hard to distinguish from usual trains on Russian railways, as they should be almost half the weight of their predecessor, the Molodets train.