The sky-high secret is revealed with the help of the Minsk chassis
In early December last year, the head of the US Air Force Space Command, General John Hayten, announced that Russia and China were developing weapons systems capable of destroying satellites in low-Earth orbit.
Some time after the statement of a high-ranking military man, the American media, citing unnamed Pentagon employees familiar with the situation, reported that as early as November 18, 2015, Russia successfully tested an anti-satellite missile created as part of the Nudol ROC. Nudol OKR (experimental development project) - as indicated in the American publications.
For a long time, Nudol, on which the Almaz-Antey VKO concern is working, remained the most closed topic and was hardly mentioned not only in the open press, but also in the corporate publications of defense enterprises.
Let's try to understand whether the mysterious "Nudol" is really a unique anti-satellite missile or this system is being created to solve completely different problems.
The first mentions of the Nudol ROC can be found in the 2011 annual report of the Head System Design Bureau of the Almaz-Antey Air Defense Concern (currently, Almaz NPO). According to the document, GSKB has developed software and algorithmic support, and the funds have been fully utilized. Judging by the fact that in the text the abbreviation ROC is written with the addition of midrange, that is, a component part, the air defense concern itself is the "headache" for "Nudol". The customer of the work, as indicated in the GSKB report, is the Ministry of Defense.
In the same year, the mysterious Nudol appeared in the report of Avangard, a leading Russian manufacturer of large-sized fiberglass and other plastic and rubber products. In the interests of the Ministry of Defense, there has begun the implementation of the components of development work (SCH ROC) to create fiberglass cups for transport and launch containers (TPK) of product 14A042, code "Nudol". And already in 2012, the enterprise not only completed the R&D work on glasses, but also issued working design documentation for the prototypes of the TPK. The presence of the letter A and the number 14 in the product index allows us to conclude that 14A042 is most likely a rocket related to space assets. The creation of the TPK, according to Avangard, required more than 42 million rubles.
In 2012, Nudol also appeared in the annual report of the St. Petersburg Design Bureau of Special Mechanical Engineering, which is part of the Almaz-Antey concern, which develops and manufactures machines and mechanisms with hydraulic, pneumatic or electric drives while simultaneously combining high power. KBSM prepared working documentation for a self-propelled launcher and a transport-loading vehicle as part of the Nudol design and development work. From the report for 2013 it becomes known: the Nudol launcher carries the P222 index, and the products of the Minsk Wheel Tractor Plant (MZKT) serve as the basis for it. As in previous years, the work on the product and equipment was completed in full.
It is noteworthy that at the beginning of 2013, a letter from an employee of the Yekaterinburg Machine-Building Plant named after MI Kalinin appeared on the Internet, where not only was the 14A042 product mentioned, but also confirmed that it was a rocket. If the body for the new product was produced at the MZiK, then the final assembly was carried out at the production base of the Novator Design Bureau.The most surprising thing is that the release of the mysterious rocket was not without a scandal. According to the author of the letter, he was demanded to install on the product instead of special bolts, as indicated in the text, "five millimeters longer than in the CD, from an unknown steel grade that does not correspond to the CD coating, unknown GOST or TU."
On March 31, 2014, the Minsk Wheeled Tractor Plant reported that an adapted modification of the MZKT-69221 body wheeled chassis with the 032 index will become the basis for a transport vehicle for a new long-range intercept complex for the anti-missile and anti-space defense of Russia, being developed as part of the Nudol R&D project. However, at present the news has been removed from the MZKT website.
At the end of 2015, a photo of the corporate calendar page of the Almaz-Antey concern with the image of a self-propelled launcher based on the six-axle MZKT-79291 tractor with two unusually long TPKs appeared on the Internet.
Let's summarize briefly. According to the available documents, Nudol is an experimental design work to create a complex for long-range interception of anti-missile and anti-space defense, the lead developer of which is Almaz-Antey. The complex should hit targets with 14A042 missiles, its development and pilot production is carried out by the Novator OKB. "Nudol" is a mobile complex, some of the elements of which are installed on vehicles of the MZKT-69221 family, as well as, possibly, other products of the Minsk Wheel Tractor Plant.
A bit of applied conspiracy theories
The complex for long-range interception of anti-missile and anti-space defense with the index 14C033 was mentioned in the tender, information about which was posted in July 2012 on the public procurement portal. According to the requirements of the announced competition, it is planned to develop the 14TS031 product for the complex - it is also an early warning radar. True, at present the document itself has already been removed from the portal.
Product 14Ts033 can also be found in the annual report of GSKB Almaz-Antey for 2011, where the first mention of Nudol appeared. As indicated in the document, the design bureau developed the initial version of the software and algorithmic support (PAO) KVP (product 14P078) of product 14Ts033 and design documentation for the component parts of the 14P078 product in the form of a body and a hardware container, a program and test procedure 14P078.
It can be assumed that the KVP is a command and control center, moreover, mobile, since its components are located in the body of the container.
The authors of the article were unable to find documentary evidence that 14Ts033 is "Nudol", but this version is supported by the fact that it is unlikely that in Russia, especially in the same concern "Almaz-Antey", two different complexes are being developed. long-range interception of anti-missile and anti-space defense. But we can also assume another option: "Nudol" is only a part of the more developed system 14Ts033, for example, its mobile component.
According to the reports of the corporation itself for 2012 and 2013, the development of the RKD was completed and the installation batches of the main components of the 14C031 radar station with a digital adaptive phased antenna array were manufactured, and the tests of the components of the 14C033 complex were started.
Radar 14Ts031 is often referred to in relation to the recently begun work on modernization of the Dunai-3U radar station located in the Moscow Region, an early warning radar station for the A-35 anti-missile defense system. Currently, work is underway on the Danube to dismantle the old equipment in order to prepare for the creation of the 14Ts031 product. There are photographs posted on the Internet, which clearly show that the equipment on the radar station is being actively dismantled.
This information is consistent with the reporting documents of Almaz-Antey, which indicates that the first elements of 14Ts031 were not only ready in 2012–2013, but, most likely, have already been installed and are being tested according to the list of works on the 14Ts033 complex.
According to reports, the approbation of 14A042 missiles began back in 2014. On April 25 last year, when launched from the Plesetsk cosmodrome, an experimental rocket crashed. According to the initial reports of the Russian media, the weight of the dropped product was 9.6 tons, and the payload was an empty blank with measuring equipment.
True, after some time, officials of the VKO concern made a statement that an upgraded Antey-2500 air defense missile system was launched in Plesetsk, but due to the deviation of the velocity vector at the initial trajectory segment from the specified restrictions on the security sector, a regular self-destruction took place.
This version of events raises objective doubts. Thus, the weight of the standard missiles of the Antey-2500 air defense system (the export version of the S-300VM air defense system) is slightly more than four tons, and the 9M83 is even less - about 2.2 tons. Although we are talking about some kind of experimental rocket, it is very doubtful that its mass has increased in comparison with those already adopted for service by two to four times.
Plesetsk is not a training ground in Kapustin Yar or Sary-Shagan. This is a cosmodrome. Its capabilities as a test site for anti-aircraft guided missiles are very limited.
It is possible that in April 2015, it was the launch of product 14A042 of the Nudol complex that, unfortunately, ended unsuccessfully. It can be assumed that the missile itself is quite large, and its weight is more than nine tons, which is very close to the characteristics of the 53T6 anti-missile, which is part of the A-125 complex.
One to one
Summarize. Russia is actively creating a complex for long-range interception of anti-missile and anti-space defense 14Ts033, which with a high degree of probability is "Nudol". It includes the 14P078 command and control station, the 14Ts031 early warning radar, as well as self-propelled launchers equipped with 14A042 missiles.
Taking into account the location of the 14TS031 radar station in the Chekhov region near Moscow, it can be assumed that Nudol is initially included or partially integrated into the larger A-235 anti-missile defense system, also known as Samolet-M. It is noteworthy that in many documents, these systems are indicated by commas.
Separately, it is worth dwelling on automobile chassis, which can be used for the installation of SPU and TZM complex 14Ts033. So far, only MZKT-69221 is reliably known, which, according to the Minsk Wheel Tractor Plant, will become the base for the transport vehicles of the new complex.
69221 is a fairly popular product in the Almaz-Antey concern. On its basis, in particular, launchers of the Buk anti-aircraft missile system are already being mounted. One such machine was presented at the corporation's exposition at last year's Moscow Aviation and Space Salon in Zhukovsky.
If the version that 14A042 was launched from Plesetsk in April 2015 is correct, then the MZKT-69221 tractor is hardly suitable for the role of a base for a self-propelled launcher. The heavier and larger MZKT-79291 should rather be considered as SPU and TZM, the launcher on the basis of which has appeared on the picture in the corporate calendar of the VKO Almaz-Antey concern.
It can be assumed that the more compact MZKT-69221 tractors will most likely accommodate elements of the 14P078 command-and-control center or other components of the complex that provide communication and information transfer.
But can Nudol intercept satellites, as Pentagon officials claim? This version is supported by the indices of all products that make up the complex, where the number 14 is present, which means that they belong to space vehicles. We must not forget the fact that the name of the system contains the formulation "anti-space defense".
Again, if the version that 14A042 suffered a failure last year in the Arkhangelsk Region is correct, it is highly likely that the Nudol's anti-satellite capabilities are at least being worked out by Almaz-Antey's specialists. It is worth recalling that Russian interceptor missiles are being tested not in Plesetsk, but in Kazakhstan's Sary-Shagan, which is also the 10th State Test Site of the Russian Ministry of Defense.
Against the version of anti-satellite weapons, the fact that the weight of the newest missile is slightly more than 9.6 tons speaks, this makes 14A042 rather a short-range intercept missile with the proviso that it can hit targets outside the atmosphere. Suffice it to say that the 51T6 long-range interceptor missile, already decommissioned, weighed a little more than 30 tons, which is an order of magnitude more than the Nudol.
But even without the ability to shoot down enemy satellites, 14Ts033 provides the Russian Aerospace Forces with truly unique opportunities, significantly increasing their combat potential. At present, the anti-missile launchers included in the A-135 and newer A-235 missile defense systems are in the mines, the data on which have long been known to our potential adversaries. "Nudol" is a maneuverable complex that allows it to turn around and hit targets covertly from enemy reconnaissance means.
This suggests an analogy with silo launchers of ICBMs and mobile ground-based missile systems. After all, it cannot be denied that the presence of the Topol, Topol-M and Yars-M PGRKs in service with the RF Armed Forces is the most important deterrent factor for our potential enemy.