The Strategic Missile Forces operate the Topol and Yars mobile ground-based missile systems. In the past, the development of another complex of this class, known as the RS-26 "Rubezh", was carried out. Work on it was stopped in 2018 due to the limited capabilities of the army and industry. However, it cannot be ruled out that the Rubezh project will be resumed in the future or will become the basis for a new PGRK.
According to various sources, the development of a promising PGRK started in the middle of the 2000s and was carried out by the Moscow Institute of Heat Engineering, which has extensive experience in this area. The public was told about the existence of such a project later, in the early tenths. For some time, the exact parameters of the complex and even its name remained unknown. The designations RS-26, Rubezh and Avangard appeared in various statements and messages. As it became clear later, the last cipher belonged to a completely different project.
According to the reports of the first half of the tenths, by 2013-15. it was planned to complete the development of a new complex, conduct tests and put it on duty. These plans were not fully implemented. Within the specified time frame, the industry was able to complete the design and conduct several test launches, but no more.
The first launch of the Rubezh rocket took place in September 2011. According to some data, these were successful throw tests, according to others - an emergency start. In May 2012, a new launch took place from the Plesetsk test site for a conditional target at the Kura site. In October of the same year, it became known about the launch from the Kapustin Yar test site at the target at Sary-Shagan. In this case, a special flight mode was used, which reduced the launch range.
In 2013-15. conducted several more test flights on a reduced program for a limited range. As a result of these events, news appeared about the adoption of the RS-26 by the Strategic Missile Forces in 2016. It was also reported about the need for several new tests for the final development of the complex.
The tests on a short route between the Kapustin Yar and Sary-Shagan training grounds attracted the attention of foreign military and politicians, and also became a reason for sharp and prolonged criticism. Russia was accused of creating an intermediate-range ballistic missile that violates an existing international treaty. In response to this, the Russian side indicated that the maximum flight range of the "Rubezh" corresponded to the intercontinental class, and therefore there were no violations.
A matter of priorities
In March 2018, the existence of a number of new strategic weapons of different classes was officially announced. In particular, the key features of the Avangard missile system have become known. A few weeks after that, the Russian media, citing their sources in the defense industry, clarified the prospects for new projects.
It was reported that in the new State Armaments Program for 2018-27. earlier it was proposed to include the previously developed PGRK "Rubezh", the railway complex "Barguzin" and the promising hypersonic "Avangard". However, then it became clear that the Ministry of Defense would not be able to provide simultaneous and full-scale funding for several projects. An analysis of the possibilities and prospects was carried out, based on the results of which it was decided to continue work on the Avangard. In this regard, the work on the "Rubezh" and "Barguzin", at least, was postponed to the future.
Financing of "Rubezh" in the State Program for 2018-27. not provided. The further fate of this project will be decided in the middle perspective, closer to the end of the current program. Upon receipt of a positive decision, work will continue no earlier than 2028.
There are very few official data on the RS-26 "Rubezh", but various estimates and forecasts are known. How much they correspond to reality is unclear. At the same time, one can imagine the general appearance and main capabilities of the promising complex.
It is assumed that the "Rubezh" is a mobile missile system, made on a special six-axle chassis. At various times, the possibility of using a platform such as MZKT-79291 or KAMAZ-7850 was mentioned. The "Rubezh" combat vehicle should be significantly smaller and lighter than the "Topol" or "Yars" launchers with a corresponding gain in mobility and maneuverability.
The RS-26 rocket was built according to a three-stage scheme with a dilution stage and was equipped with solid-propellant engines. According to various estimates, the length of the product ranges from 15 to 18 m. Weight - no more than 50 tons. Tests have shown the missile's ability to fly at a range of about 2-2.5 thousand km or up to 8 thousand km, depending on the trajectory.
The Rubezh project assumed the use of a number of new technical solutions aimed at improving all the main characteristics. So, new grades of solid fuel with increased energy and new body materials were expected. An improved control and navigation system with increased characteristics and, possibly, new modes could be used.
Assessments were made about the possible development of a new multiple warhead, incl. with hypersonic gliding warheads. The missile must necessarily carry the means of overcoming the anti-missile defense of a modern appearance, which is in service with a potential adversary.
Thus, the Rubezh PGRK continued to develop the ideas of previous projects, complemented by new technologies and solutions. This made it possible to obtain a lighter and more mobile complex with increased flexibility of combat use. It could complement the existing Topol and Yars mobile systems, giving the Strategic Missile Forces some new capabilities. In the future, such a complex can become the basis of a mobile grouping of missile forces.
Postponed or closed?
At the beginning of the last decade, it was assumed that no later than 2015-18. the promising PGRK RS-26 "Rubezh" will go through all the stages of checks and tests, after which it will enter service with the Strategic Missile Forces and take up combat duty. For objective reasons, work on this complex dragged on - and was curtailed until real results were obtained. The army did not find opportunities for the simultaneous implementation of several projects, leaving only Avangard.
If the reports of 2018 correspond to reality, then the further fate of the "Rubezh" will be determined in 2025-27, in the course of drawing up the next State Armaments Program, starting in 2028. It is not known what conclusions the authors of the program will come to. It is equally likely that the project can be resumed or abandoned.
PGRK "Rubezh" has certain advantages and is of great interest for the Strategic Missile Forces and the Strategic Nuclear Forces as a whole. The resumption of the project will allow the missile forces in the distant future to receive new effective weapons to supplement and then replace existing models. It should be borne in mind that during the suspension, the "Rubezh" project will become outdated to some extent and will need at least revision. Moreover, it is possible to abandon the RS-26 in favor of a new project with varying degrees of continuity.
We can only say with confidence that in the future our Strategic Missile Forces will receive a new PGRK of one model or another. The newest of such complexes, the RS-24 Yars, entered service in 2009, and now the troops are receiving the upgraded Yars-S. Obviously, by the beginning of the thirties, the oldest Yars and Topoli-Ms will need to be replaced - which requires a modernized RS-24 or a completely new complex.
Thus, our country has in reserve a new project of a mobile missile system with a number of important advantages, which has passed all stages of development and testing. Depending on the capabilities and needs of the Strategic Missile Forces, it can be brought to production and operation, or reworked with the aim of a new increase in performance. The final decision on the "Rubezh" project, apparently, has not yet been made. But it is clear that any measures in the future will be aimed at further developing the missile forces and maximizing benefits.