(Reuters) - Russia is to double the number of test launches of its intercontinental ballistic missiles to eight in 2023 from four in 2022, the commander of strategic rocket forces was quoted as saying on Friday.
Sergei Karakayev told the military newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda that the eight test flights would be scheduled from two launch sites - one near Murmansk in the north, the other near Volgograd in the south.
In remarks reported by Tass news agency, Karakayev said four launches had taken place this year and "confirmed the high reliability of the missile systems".
Under the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty, which took effect in 2011, both Russia and the United States are limited to 700 intercontinental ballistic missiles each.
Karakayev cited in particular the nuclear-capable Sarmat missile which underwent its first launch in April from Plesetsk in northern Russia, hitting a target on the Kamchatka peninsula 6,000 km (3,700 miles) away.
The Sarmat had been under development for years but the April test came at time of extreme international tension, weeks into Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, now in its 10th month.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the time there was no comparable missile and would "strengthen the combat potential of our armed forces".
In his remarks to Krasnaya Zvezda, Karakayev said the Sarmat would form the foundation of the silo-based missiles armoury.
"In the current circumstances, the creation of such a missile system for Russia means the strengthening of its strategic security," he said.
(Reporting by Ron Popeski; editing by David Ljunggren and Grant McCool)