MOSCOW (AP) _ Russia will equip a second regiment of its strategic missile forces with the new Topol-M ballistic missile before the end of the year, a top military official said Friday.

Deputy Defense Minister Col. Gen. Alexander Kosovan said 10 of the missiles will be deployed in late December, the Interfax news agency reported.

The government says the recently developed Topol-M will form the backbone of its nuclear forces for years to come. The small, rugged missile can be fired from a mobile launch pad, which means they would be hard to detect and therefore more likely to survive a first strike in a nuclear confrontation.

Russia already has 10 Topol-M missiles in service. Those were deployed last December.