Special mission of mobile missile systems

Special mission of mobile missile systems
Special mission of mobile missile systems
Special mission of mobile missile systems
Special mission of mobile missile systems

On July 23, 1985, near the city of Yoshkar-Ola, the first missile regiment in the Strategic Missile Forces (Strategic Rocket Forces) was put on alert, armed with a Topol mobile ground-based missile system (PGRK) with a solid-propellant intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) 15Zh58.

The deployment of the first missile regiment, armed with the Topol PGRK, marked the beginning of the transition of the ground grouping of the USSR's strategic nuclear forces from silo-based ICBMs to a group of mixed composition, including mobile-based ICBMs.

Military specialists and experts in the field of strategic nuclear weapons in our country and abroad assess this event as no less important than equipping ICBMs with self-guided warheads. And there is every reason for this.


Equipping domestic ICBMs with individually targeted warheads was carried out in response to the implementation of such measures on missiles of the United States Strategic Offensive Forces (SNA). This ensured the achievement of quantitative parity in strategic nuclear weapons between the USSR and the USA.

The consequence was the actual termination in the 70s of the last century of the quantitative race of strategic offensive arms and the conclusion between the two leading nuclear powers of the world of treaties on the limitation of strategic arms SALT-1 and SALT-2. However, outside the treaty restrictions, the qualitative improvement and build-up of the combat characteristics of strategic offensive weapons remained.

Particular attention was paid to improving the reliability and accuracy of delivering nuclear warheads to targets. In these areas, the United States had a definite advantage and sought to take advantage of it to the maximum extent. Since the end of the 70s, the United States began to develop, and from the mid-80s - to the practical implementation of plans to introduce into the SNS a new intercontinental ballistic missile "MX" and an upgraded ballistic missile of submarines (SLBM) "Trident-2" … The main features of these missiles, in addition to the increased power and reliability of nuclear warheads, were high accuracy, reaching a level that was practically the limit for ballistic missiles with an inertial guidance system. In the same period, work was carried out to significantly improve the accuracy of the Minuteman-3 ICBM.

Forecasting at the turn of the 1970s and 1980s the consequences of the implementation by the US military-political leadership of these measures to improve the SNS indicated the danger of an unacceptable decrease in the survivability of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces grouping. And after all, about 60% of the warheads of the strategic nuclear forces of the Soviet Union were concentrated on ICBMs of the Strategic Missile Forces!

Previously, the ratio of the combat characteristics of US SNS missiles of the previous generation to the security characteristics of silo launchers (silos) of intercontinental ballistic missiles of the Strategic Missile Forces predetermined the number of nuclear warheads required for guaranteed destruction of silos at the level of 4-5 units. Taking into account the total number of ICBMs in the Strategic Missile Forces grouping, the warheads of the USS SNS missiles, which, according to their characteristics, could have been planned in a counterforce strike to destroy silos, did not, on average, exceed three warheads per launcher (PU). It is quite obvious that the assessments of the survivability of the Strategic Missile Forces group at the same time corresponded to a sufficient level. With the introduction of ballistic missiles with enhanced combat characteristics into the US SNS grouping, the predicted number of nuclear warheads for guaranteed destruction of silos was reduced to 1–2 units. At the same time, the capabilities of the US SNS to allocate a warhead order to defeat silos in the context of the implementation of the restrictions of the SALT-2 Treaty did not decrease. Naturally, the predictive estimates of the survivability of the Strategic Missile Forces were at an unacceptably low level.

The solution to the problem of maintaining the required combat capabilities of the Strategic Missile Forces grouping in conditions of a retaliatory strike was considered in two directions. The traditional direction, based on increasing the protection of silos from the damaging factors of a nuclear explosion, by the analyzed period has largely exhausted the possibilities of practical implementation. In terms of the totality of military-technical and technical-economic indicators, it turned out to be more effective and feasible to increase the survivability of the Strategic Missile Forces grouping by creating and commissioning mobile missile systems (ROK), primarily a ground-based type of ICBM, with a solid-propellant ICBM.

For mobile missile launchers, the likelihood of retaining the launcher is significantly less dependent on the accuracy of the warhead delivery than for silos, and its high level is ensured by creating uncertainty in the launcher's location. At the same time, the requirement to create a PGRK based on a solid-propellant ICBM was uncontested, since liquid-propellant missiles, in terms of their operational properties, are unsuitable for land-based mobile basing.


By the time when the need arose to create and massively enter into the combat strength of the Strategic Missile Forces a mobile ground-based missile system with ICBMs, our country already had a technical groundwork, experience in the creation and operation of solid-fuel ICBMs and ground-based mobile missile launchers. In particular, in the 60s, the country's first solid-propellant ICBM 8K98P silo-based was created and put into service, and in the 70s, the Temp-2S and Pioneer mobile ground-based missile systems were created and put into service.

The Temp-2S mobile ground missile system with the 15Zh42 solid-propellant ICBM has been developed since the mid-60s by the Moscow Institute of Heat Engineering (MIT) under the leadership of the chief designer Alexander Davidovich Nadiradze. It was put on combat duty in 1976 in a limited composition - only seven missile regiments, and was removed from combat duty under the SALT-2 Treaty at the end of the 70s.

The Pioneer PGRK with the 15Zh45 medium-range ballistic missile and its subsequent modifications was also developed with the MIT in the lead role and was adopted by the Strategic Missile Forces in 1976. The massive deployment of the Pioneer PGRK began in 1978 in the positional areas previously occupied by outdated stationary complexes with R-12, R-14 and R-16 missiles. By the time of the signing of the Treaty between the USSR and the United States on the elimination of medium and short-range missiles (December 1987), more than 400 launchers of this complex had been deployed in the Strategic Missile Forces, which since 1988 began to be removed from combat duty and were completely eliminated by mid-1991.

Previous experience in the development and operation of mobile soil systems with medium and intercontinental range missiles allowed the Moscow Institute of Thermal Engineering (General Designer - Alexander Davidovich Nadiradze, and later - Boris Nikolaevich Lagutin) to create a new mobile soil missile system "Topol" with solid-fuel ICBM 15Zh58.

The development of the complex was carried out taking into account the requirements of the SALT-2 Agreement. In this regard, the 15Zh58 ICBM was created as a modernization of the 8K98P missile, which imposed certain restrictions on its launch and throw weight, length and maximum diameter, the number of stages, the type of fuel, as well as the composition and characteristics of combat equipment. However, thanks to the use of progressive technical solutions, including those that had no analogues in the practice of world rocketry, a modern missile system was created with high combat characteristics and a significant resource for further upgrades.

So the 15Zh58 rocket surpassed the 15Zh58 rocket in nuclear charge power by about 2.5 times, in accuracy - 2.5 times, in terms of the reduced throwing mass - in 1, 3 times, in terms of energy indicator (the ratio of the reduced value of the payload mass to the launch mass missiles) - 1, 2 times.

Despite the fact that the 15Zh58 ICBM was equipped with a monoblock warhead without a complex of means to overcome the anti-missile defense (ABM) system, its energy capabilities made it possible, if necessary, to equip it with a multiple warhead and means to overcome enemy missile defense, while providing an intercontinental range.

The on-board missile control system is inertial, built using an on-board computer that implements direct guidance methods, which ensured the calculation at the current time of the trajectory of the subsequent flight to the point of impact of the warhead. The use of the computer complex of the control system made it possible to realize one of the fundamentally new qualities of mobile complexes - the autonomous combat use of a self-propelled launcher. The control system equipment ensured the autonomous conduct of ground checks, prelaunch preparation and missile launch from any point on the patrol route of the launcher suitable for the terrain. All operations for prelaunch preparation and launch were highly automated.

High secrecy of mobile missile systems from enemy reconnaissance was achieved by carrying out camouflage measures (use of standard means and natural camouflage properties of the terrain), as well as the implementation of modes of operation of mobile units, in which the enemy's space reconnaissance is not able to accurately and promptly track their location (the choice of frequency and the time of changing parking lots, the choice of the distance between them and the route of movement).


Flight tests of the Topol complex were carried out at the 53rd state test site (Plesetsk) from February 8, 1983 to December 23, 1987. The development of the elements of the complex proceeded in stages. At the same time, the greatest difficulties were associated with the creation of the PGRK combat control system. After the successful completion of the first series of tests, completed by mid-1985 (15 test launches took place during April 1985), in order to gain experience in operating the new complex in the troops, it was decided, without waiting for the full completion of the flight test program, to deploy the first a missile regiment with limited combat control equipment. The missile regiment, equipped with the first mobile command post, was put on alert on April 28, 1987 in the Nizhny Tagil area, and on May 27, 1988, a missile regiment with an already modernized mobile command post in the Irkutsk region was put on alert. Test missile launches were completed on December 23, 1987, and the final decision on the adoption of the Topol complex was made on December 1, 1988.

Part of the Topol PGRK was deployed in the newly created positional areas. After the start of the implementation of the INF Treaty for the basing of Topol missile systems, some positional areas of the dismantled Pioneer complexes began to be re-equipped.

Solving the problem of ensuring the high survivability of the Strategic Missile Forces grouping by mass placing the Topol PGRK on combat duty became a decisive operational-strategic factor that initiated the development of treaty relations between the USSR, and subsequently the Russian Federation, and the United States from limiting strategic nuclear weapons to their radical reduction. At the time of the signing of the START-1 Treaty (July 1991), the Strategic Missile Forces had 288 autonomous launchers (APU) of the Topol missile system. After the signing of the START-1 Treaty, the deployment of these complexes was continued, and at the end of 1996, the Strategic Missile Forces had 360 APUs of the Topol PGRK.

Subsequently, the Topol missile system underwent a deep modernization, and on its basis a whole family of more modern PGRKs - Topol-M and Yars, created and produced exclusively by Russian cooperation of industrial enterprises, was developed.

The modified PGRK Topol missile is successfully used as a special experimental carrier for testing elements of combat equipment of promising and new strategic ballistic missiles.

On the basis of ICBMs of the Topol rocket complex, the Start conversion space launch vehicle was also developed, which were launched from the Plesetsk and Svobodny cosmodromes.

Taking into account the high indicators of survivability and efficiency in various conditions of combat use, the service life of the Topol PGRK has been repeatedly extended, reaching 25 years by now. With the planned sequential replacement of the Topol missile complex with new PGRK, its presence in the Strategic Missile Forces is forecasted until 2020.

Without any reservations, we can state the fact that throughout the modern history of the Russian Federation, missile regiments armed with the Topol PGRK constituted the core of the Strategic Missile Forces grouping, providing a guaranteed solution to the nuclear deterrent problem in relation to the predicted most unfavorable conditions of retaliation.

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