A Russian military source outlined the capabilities of Barguzin strategic missile train. The country may roll out five such disguised mobile launch platforms each carrying six RS-24 Yars missiles in five years.
A ‘nuclear train’ – properly called BZhRK, short for ‘combat railway missile complex’ in Russian – is a mobile platform for transporting and launching strategic nuclear missiles. Similarly to nuclear submarines, such trains are hard to wipe out in a preemptive strike because of their mobility and ability to be disguised as regular freight trains.
The Soviet Union had 12 such nuclear trains, each carrying three RT-23 Molodets (SS-24 Scalpel in NATO disambiguation) missiles, but they were released from combat duty after Russia and the US signed the START-2 treaty in 1993 and eventually decommissioned.
Last year the Russian military said that nuclear trains – which are no longer banned under the New START treaty – would be revived.