Russian Missiles Have a 60 percent Fail Rate

U.S. intelligence believes that the failure rate on Russian missiles may be as high as 60%.  This is probably a function of two factors, their age and the Russian sense of what reliability means.  We have seen numerous instances of Russian equipment, munitions, and even food being used well past their stated expiration dates, so it would not be surprising to see Russian missiles being used that are also poorly maintained and long past their useful lifespan being employed as well.  There is every reason to believe that this neglect extends itself to Russian nuclear forces as well, which we think would give them pause to use a nuclear missile in the region, let alone light the whole world on fire with them.

The other factor is the way Russians view reliability in everything from a toaster to a ballistic missile.  While the US would cancel a weapons program with a 60% reliability rate, this would not be a concern for Russians who all but expect things to be made of shoddy material and workmanship and have a high failure rate as a matter of course.  This was a feature of life in the Soviet Union, where nothing worked as it was expected to and everything needed to be fixed constantly.

During Moscow’s big May 9 Victory Day parade rehearsal in Red Square in 2015, the Russian Government rolled out the first public viewing of their brand new T-14 main battle tank. It promptly broke down in front of the Gum department store and sat there for 15 minutes while they attempted to get it moving again. Afterward, the government said it was all done according to plan and the crewmen spilling out and working on the tank was a demonstration of an evacuation drill for the audience.