"Batons" for intercontinental use

"Batons" for intercontinental use
"Batons" for intercontinental use

… So North Korea is threatening the world with a "nuclear baton" … The variety of land-based ballistic missiles is so great that we will only talk about intercontinental (ICBM) missiles with a range of more than 5,500 kilometers - and only China, Russia and the United States have such … (Great Britain and France abandoned land-based ICBMs, placing them only on submarines). But the two main former Cold War adversaries have had no shortage of ballistics for the past half century.

Ballistic missiles did not appear from scratch - they quickly grew out of the captured "legacy". The British were the first of the Allies to launch captured V-2s in Cuxhaven by German personnel in the fall of 1945. But this was only a demonstration launch. Then one captured rocket was put up for viewing at Trafalgar Square in London.

And the US Department of Armaments Office in the same year gave the assignment to conduct detailed experiments with captured "V-2". The Americans, who were the first to enter Nordhausen, took out more than 100 ready-made missiles, sets of parts, and equipment. The first launch was carried out at the White Sands test site (New Mexico) on April 16, 1946, the last, 69th, on October 19, 1951. But a much more valuable "trophy" for the Americans were tons of technical documentation and over 490 German specialists led by von Braun and Dornberger. The latter did everything to get to the Americans, and they turned out to be in dire need of them. The "cold war" began, the United States, already having nuclear weapons, was in a hurry to acquire missile weapons, and its specialists did not make much progress in this matter. In any case, the projects of large missiles MX-770 and MX-774 ended in nothing.

R-7 - the first Soviet ICBM
R-7 - the first Soviet ICBM

ICBM R-7 / R-7A (SS-6 Sapwood). THE USSR. Was in service in 1961-1968.

1. Head part

2. Instrument compartment

3. Oxidizer tanks

4. Tunnel pipe oxidizer pipeline

5. Main engine of the central block

6. Aerodynamic steering wheel

7. Main engine of the side block

8. Central unit

9. Side block

Most interestingly, the first American rocket scientist to talk to von Braun was a former GALCIT employee, Qian Xuesen. Later he will move to China, become the founder of the Chinese rocket and space industry, and will begin … by copying the Soviet R-2 and R-5.

Von Braun, already an accomplished engineer and organizer, became CTO of the Design Bureau at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville. The backbone of the bureau was its former Peenemünde employees and other specialists. Previously, they were selected according to the "reliability" of the Gestapo, now the Americans - according to the same criteria.

In 1956, the SSM-A-14 Redstone ballistic missile, created under the leadership of von Braun, appeared, in which a number of A-4 design solutions were guessed, and a year later - the SM-78 Jupiter with a flight range of up to 2,780 kilometers.

Work on the first "real" ICBMs in our country and overseas began almost simultaneously. On May 20, 1954, a Resolution of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR was issued on the creation of an intercontinental ballistic missile (the work was entrusted to the "royal" OKB-1), and in the United States the first contract for the Atlas ICBM was issued to the Konveyr company from the General Dynamics Corporation in January 1955. The status of the highest priority was assigned to the program by Washington a year earlier.

"Seven" (KB Korolev) went into the skies on August 21, 1957, nevertheless becoming the first ICBM in the world, and on October 4, it launched the world's first satellite into low-earth orbit. However, as a combat missile system, the R-7 turned out to be too bulky, vulnerable, expensive and difficult to operate. The preparation time for the launch was about 2 hours, and to replenish the oxygen supply to the ICBMs on duty, a whole plant was generally needed nearby (which made it impossible to use it as a retaliatory strike weapon).

ICBM RS-20A (SS-18 Satan). USSR. In service since 1975
ICBM RS-20A (SS-18 Satan). USSR. In service since 1975

The American Atlas ICBM successfully flew only in November 1958, but its launch weight was only 120 tons, while the R-7 had 283 tons. This rocket took about 15 minutes to launch (and did not need liquid oxygen for refueling).

But gradually the USSR began to narrow the gap with the Americans. In April 1954, on the basis of the design department of the Southern Machine-Building Plant, an independent Special Design Bureau No. 586 (OKB-586) was formed, headed by M. K. Yangel. Soon, under his leadership, the R-12 and R-14 medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) were created - the culprit of the Cuban missile crisis, and then the first Soviet ICBM on the high-boiling components of the R-16 propellant. The decision to create it was made on May 13, 1959 and initially provided for the production of only ground-based launchers (PU). However, subsequently, the R-16 underwent a refinement of the design and control system (CS) and became the first Soviet ICBM, which was launched from a mine launcher (silo). Moreover, the silo of this rocket (a rare case) ensured the movement of the rocket along the guides - platforms were made on the BR body for the installation of yokes fixing its position in the guides.

ICBM R-16 / R-16U (SS-7 Saddler). THE USSR. Was in service in 1963-1979
ICBM R-16 / R-16U (SS-7 Saddler). THE USSR. Was in service in 1963-1979

By the way, if the range of the R-7 did not exceed 8,000 kilometers, then the Yangelevskaya P-16 could “fly away” by 13,000 kilometers. Moreover, its launch weight was 130 tons less.

True, the R-16's "flying" career began with a tragedy: on October 24, 1960, an explosion occurred at Baikonur in preparation for the first missile launch. As a result, a large number of people who were at the starting position perished, led by the Chairman of the State Commission, Commander-in-Chief of the Strategic Missile Forces, Chief Marshal of Artillery M. I. Nedelin.

Nuclear "titans" and the Soviet giant

In 1955, the US Air Force approved the terms of reference for a heavy liquid-propellant ICBM with a thermonuclear warhead with a yield of more than 3 megatons; it was designed to defeat large administrative and industrial centers of the USSR. However, the Martin-Marietta company was able to issue an experimental series of HGM-25A Titan-1 missiles for flight tests only in the summer of 1959. The rocket was born in agony, and most of the first launches were unsuccessful.

ICBM R-36 (SS-9 Scarp). THE USSR. Out of service
ICBM R-36 (SS-9 Scarp). THE USSR. Out of service

On September 29, 1960, a new ICBM was launched at maximum range with the equivalent of a warhead weighing 550 kilograms. From Cape Canaveral to an area 1,600 kilometers southeast of the island of Madagascar, the rocket covered 16,000 kilometers. It was a long-awaited success. Initially, it was planned to deploy 108 Titan-1 ICBMs, but due to the enormous cost and a number of shortcomings, it was limited to half. They served from the beginning of 1960 to April 1965, and they were replaced (until 1987) by more modern heavy two-stage ICBM LGM-25C "Titan-2" with increased hitting accuracy (before the appearance in the USSR of the heavy ICBM R-36 the most powerful ICBM in the world was the Titan-2 ICBM).

Moscow's response to the American "Titan" was a new liquid-propellant missile of the heavy class R-36, which could "throw" more than 5 tons of nuclear "surprise" to the enemy. By the decree of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR of May 12, 1962, a missile capable of delivering a thermonuclear charge of unprecedented power to an intercontinental range was instructed to create the team of Yangelevsky Design Bureau "Yuzhnoye". This rocket was already originally created for the mine-based version - the ground-type launch pad was abandoned immediately and completely.

Silo MBR UR-100
Silo MBR UR-100

Mine launcher "OS" of intercontinental ballistic missile UR-100

1. Entrance to silo

2. Tambour

3. Protective device

4. Head of silo

5. Silo barrel

6. Rocket UR-100

7. Transport and launch container

The preparation and implementation time for the R-36 remote launch was about 5 minutes. Moreover, the rocket could already be in a fueled state for a long time using special compensation devices. The P-36 possessed unique combat capabilities and was significantly superior to the American Titan-2, primarily in terms of the power of the thermonuclear charge, firing accuracy and protection. We have finally "almost" caught up with America.

In 1966, at the Baikonur training ground, an operation of special importance was carried out, which received the code name "Palma-2": the leaders of sixteen friendly countries were shown three models of Soviet "weapons of retaliation" in action: missile systems with the "Temp-S" MRBM (chief designer A. D.. Nadiradze), as well as with ICBM R-36 (MK Yangel) and UR-100 (VN Chelomey). The allies were amazed by what they saw and decided to “be friends” with us further, realizing that this “nuclear umbrella” was also open over them.

Try, find

With the increase in the accuracy of nuclear missiles and, most importantly, reconnaissance and surveillance equipment, it became clear that any stationary launchers can be relatively quickly detected and destroyed (damaged) during the first nuclear strike. And although the USSR and the United States had submarines available, the Soviet Union “uselessly” lost vast expanses of territory. So the idea literally hovered in the air and in the end was framed in a proposal - to create mobile missile systems that can, lost in the vast expanses of their homeland, survive the first enemy strike and strike back.

Work on the first mobile ground-based missile system (PGRK) with the Temp-2S ICBM began with us "semi-underground": the Moscow Institute of Heat Engineering (former NII-1), headed by A. D. By that time, Nadiradze was subordinated to the Ministry of Defense Industry, which "worked" for the Ground Forces, and the topic of strategic missiles for the Strategic Missile Forces was given to the organizations of the Ministry of General Machine Building. But Minister of Defense Industry Zverev did not want to part with "large" strategic topics and on April 15, 1965 ordered his subordinates to start developing a mobile complex with ICBMs, "disguising" it as the creation of an "improved complex with the Temp-S medium-range missile." Later, the code was changed to "Temp-2S", and on March 6, 1966, they began to work in the open, since the corresponding Resolution of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the USSR Council of Ministers was issued, which "legalized" the work on the topic.

Academician Pilyugin said in one of his conversations: “Chelomey and Yangel are arguing about whose rocket is better. And Nadiradze and I are making not a rocket, but a new weapon system. There were earlier proposals on mobile missiles, but it is interesting to work with Nadiradze, because he has an integrated approach, which many of our military men lack. " And this was the absolute truth - they were creating a new "subspecies" of nuclear missile weapons.

The basis of the Temp-2S complex is a three-stage solid-propellant missile with a monoblock warhead with a nuclear charge and a firing range of about 9,000 kilometers. The rocket launch could be carried out with the minimum possible duration of prelaunch preparation - from any point on the patrol route, so to speak, "on the move."

Considering that the missile's firing accuracy was (depending on the range) from 450 to 1,640 meters, this complex was a serious "claim for success" in the war and, if adopted by the Soviet Strategic Missile Forces, would pose a serious threat to NATO, which the West would oppose. could not do anything.

However, an unpredictable lady named "politician" intervened in the matter - in the form of the SALT-2 Treaty, according to the provisions of which the production and deployment of "Temp-2S" were prohibited. Therefore, the Topol (RS-12M / RT-2PM, according to the western classification - SS-25 Sickle), created again by MIT, became the world's first serial PGRK (mobile ground missile system) with ICBMs.

In February 1993, the active phase of work on the modernization program to the Topol-M version began, which in the mine and mobile versions will become the basis for the grouping of Russian Strategic Missile Forces in the first quarter of the 21st century. Compared to its predecessor, the new missile defense system has more capabilities to overcome the systems of existing and future missile defense systems, and is more effective when used for planned and unplanned purposes. The new missile, after a little additional equipment, is placed in the missile-free RS-18 and RS-20 silo launchers. At the same time, material-intensive and expensive protective devices, roofs, equipment compartments, and a number of support systems remain.

"Militia" and "dwarfs"

Perhaps the brightest trace in world missile history was left by the family of American ICBMs "Minuteman" ("Minuteman" - as a soldier of the people's militia, or militia, was once called). They became the first solid-propellant ICBMs in the United States, the first in the world with MIRVs, and the first with a fully autonomous inertial control system. Their further development stopped only after the onset of detente, the end of the "cold war" and the collapse of the USSR.

It is curious that at the initial stage it was planned to place part of the ICBM (from 50 to 150 missiles) on mobile railway platforms. On June 20, 1960, a specially converted experimental train stationed at VVB Hill in Utah began to run through the western and central parts of the United States. He returned from his last trip on August 27, 1960, and the US Air Force announced the "successful completion of the Minuteman mobile missile concept test program." Thus, the idea of using the railway for basing ICBMs was first born in the United States, but was practically implemented only in the USSR. But the mobile Minuteman was unlucky, the Air Force chose to focus all efforts on mine modification, and on December 7, 1961, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara closed work on the mobile Minuteman.

The continuation of the "popular" family was the Minuteman-IIIG ICBM (LGM-30G). On January 26, 1975, Boeing Aerospace placed the last of these ICBMs on alert at Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming. The most important advantage of this ICBM was the presence of a multiple warhead. From March 31, 2006, the warheads removed from MX missiles began to be placed on the units of the Minuteman-IIIG ICBMs that remained on alert. Moreover, in 2004, the Americans, frightened by the threat of international terrorism, began to study the issue of placing on the Minuteman ICBM a warhead in conventional, non-nuclear equipment.

In the mid-80s of the last century, the US Air Force, which was haunted by the Soviet PGRK, announced its desire to get at its disposal the same complexes with light ICBMs that could move at a fairly high speed along highways and dirt roads.

According to the plan of the Americans, in the event of an aggravation of the situation and the emergence of a threat of a nuclear strike against the United States, the Midgetman PGRK (Midgetman, "dwarf") with a small-sized and light ICBM were supposed to leave their bases and go out onto highways and country roads, "creeping away", as if centipedes, throughout the country. After receiving the command, the car stopped, unloaded the trailer from the launcher to the ground, then the tractor pulled it forward, and thanks to the presence of a special plow-like device, it self-buried, providing additional protection from the damaging factors of a nuclear explosion. The mobile launcher could “get lost” in an area of up to 200 thousand km2 within just 10 minutes, and then, together with the surviving silo-based ICBMs and strategic submarine missile carriers, inflict a retaliatory nuclear strike.

At the end of 1986, the Martin-Marietta company received a contract for the design of the MGM-134A Midgetman mobile RC and the assembly of the first prototype.

Structurally, the MGM-134A Midgetman ICBM is a three-stage solid-propellant missile. The launch type is "cold": gases under strong pressure ejected the missile from the TPK, and the ICBM's own engine was turned on only when it finally left the "container".

Despite its "dwarf" name, the new ICBM had a completely "not childish" launch range - about 11 thousand kilometers - and carried a thermonuclear warhead with a capacity of 475 kilotons. Unlike the Soviet Temp-2S and Topol complexes, the American launcher had a trailer-type chassis: a four-axle tractor-vehicle carried a container with one ICBM on a three-axle trailer. On tests, the mobile PU showed a speed of 48 km / h on rough terrain and 97 km / h on the highway.

However, in 1991, President George W. Bush (Sr.) announced the termination of work on a mobile launcher - they continued to create only a "mine" version. The initial operational readiness "Midgetman" was supposed to reach in 1997 (initially - 1992), but in January 1992, the "Midgetman" program was finally closed. The only PU of the Midgetman PGRK was transferred to the Wright-Patterson VVB - for the museum located there, where it is still located.

In the Soviet Union, they also created their own "dwarf" - on June 21, 1983, a Resolution of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR was issued, which instructed MIT to create the Kurier PGRK with a small ICBM. The initiative for its development belonged to the Commander-in-Chief of the Strategic Missile Forces V. F. Tolubko.

The Kurier ICBM in terms of its mass and dimensional characteristics was approximately the same as the American Midgetman missile and was several times lighter than any of the previous types of Soviet ICBMs.

A. A. Ryazhskikh recalled later: “Our work, as always, followed them. The development of this original complex did not go very smoothly. There were many opponents, including in the leadership of the Strategic Missile Forces and, in my opinion, among the leadership of the Ministry of Defense. Some of them took it skeptically - as exotic”.

Courier (RSS-40 / SS-X-26) is the first and only domestic small-size solid-propellant ICBM of a mobile soil complex on a wheeled chassis. It also became the smallest ICBM in the world.

The complex was unique. It easily fit into the body of a Sovavtotrans-type automobile trailer, in any railway wagons, could be transported on barges, and even entered the plane. He, of course, would not give an obvious increase in efficiency, but on the other hand, he could take part in the retaliatory strike, since it was almost impossible to detect it.

The draft design was completed in 1984, and the full-scale flight tests were to begin in 1992. But they did not take place due to political reasons - within the framework of the START-1 Treaty: further work on the "Courier" and "Midgetman" were stopped.

"Satan" versus the "keeper of the world"

The period of the second half of the 70s of the last century became a special drama in the history of the development of land-based ICBMs. It was then that the evolution of these rockets almost reached its climax. As a result, the two superpowers have created real "planetary shockers" capable of wiping out not only cities, but entire countries in the event of a volley. And only thanks to the efforts of the leadership of the United States and the USSR, the powerful rumble of "nuclear monsters" did not herald the onset of the "doomsday of mankind."

We are talking here about heavy ICBMs with multiple warheads with self-guided warheads. The first ICBMs of this class were again created by the Americans. The reason for their development was the rapid growth in the "quality" and accuracy of Soviet ICBMs. At the same time, a heated debate unfolded in Washington about the future of silo-based missile defense systems in general - many generals expressed concern about their vulnerability to new Soviet ICBMs.

As a result, they began a program to develop a promising rocket - "X-missiles". The original - "Missile-X" was then transformed into "M-X", and we already know this rocket as "MX". Although its official designation is LGM-118A "Piskiper" (Peacekeeper, translated from English - "Peacekeeper"). The main requirements for the new ICBM were as follows: increased range, high accuracy, the presence of a MIRV with the ability to change its power, as well as the presence of a mine with an increased degree of protection. However, Ronald Reagan, who replaced Carter in the presidency, wishing to speed up the deployment of MX ICBMs, canceled the development of "supercovers" on October 2, 1981 and decided to place missiles in mines from "Minuteman" or "Titan"

A) ICBM LGM-118A "Piskiper" (MX). USA. In service from 1986 to 2005. The cost of one ICBM is $ 70 million B) MGM-134A "Midgetman" ICBMs. USA C) ICBM LGM-30G "Minuteman-IIIG". USA. In service. Production ended in December 1978 D) Heavy ICBM LGM-25C "Titan-2". USA. Was in service in 1963-1987
A) ICBM LGM-118A "Piskiper" (MX). USA. In service from 1986 to 2005. The cost of one ICBM is $ 70 million B) MGM-134A "Midgetman" ICBMs. USA C) ICBM LGM-30G "Minuteman-IIIG". USA. In service. Production ended in December 1978 D) Heavy ICBM LGM-25C "Titan-2". USA. Was in service in 1963-1987

June 17, 1983 "Keeper of the world" for the first time soared into the heavens from the VVB "Vandenberg". Having covered 6,704 kilometers, the missile "scattered" six unloaded warheads at targets within the Kwajalein test site.

For the first time, the Americans managed to implement the "mortar launch" method in a heavy ICBM: the rocket was placed in the TPK installed in the mine, and the solid-fuel gas generator (located in the lower part of the TPK), when triggered, threw the rocket to a height of 30 meters from the level of the silo protective device, and only then turned on main engine of the first stage. In addition to the silo version, it was planned to place 50 railway-based MXs in 25 "missile trains", two ICBMs on each; even in the START-1 Treaty, the MX missile was already spelled out as "mobile-based".

However, then there was a "detente" and the program was "covered" - in September 1991, President George W. Bush announced the cessation of work on the railroad MX (later, the deployment of the mine-based MX was also stopped). The Americans chose to “forget” about their “rocket train”, on which they had already spent about 400 million dollars, in exchange for Moscow's promise to reduce the number of its “miracle weapons”, heavy ICBMs, among which the most famous was the RS-20, nicknamed in the West for his power "Satan".

Despite the disadvantages and high cost of construction, mines continued to be the dominant basing type for ICBMs in the world. In the 1970s, the third-generation Soviet ICBMs RS-16 (SS-17 Spanker), RS-18 (SS-19 Stiletto) and RS-20 (SS-18 Satan) were born one after another. The RS-16 and RS-20 missiles and complexes based on them were developed, as it is now fashionable to say, by a "consortium" headed by the Yuzhnoye design bureau (M. K. Yangel was replaced by V. F. Utkin), and the RS-18 was created by the bureau V. N. Chelomeya. All of them were two-stage liquid ballistic missiles with a sequential arrangement of stages and for the first time in domestic practice were equipped with a split warhead.

Complexes with these missiles were put into service in the USSR in the period 1975-1981, but then they were modernized. Moreover, it was thanks to these "monsters" that the USSR managed to achieve reliable parity with the United States in terms of the number of warheads on alert: by 1991, the Strategic Missile Forces had 47 ICBMs of the RS-16A / B type, 300 - of the RS-18A / B type and 308 - of the RS type. -20A / B / V, the number of ready-for-action warheads on which has exceeded 5,000.

When, in preparation for the signing of the START-2 Treaty, we presented the Americans with data on the total abandoned mass of these missiles, they simply fell into a stupor. It amounted to 4135, 25 tons! For comparison, the Americans' entire ICBM ground group was only 1132.5 tons. Even if Russia simply blew them up over the North Pole, humanity would shudder from the nuclear Apocalypse.

Particularly frightening of the Yankees was our Satan, which had a MIRVE IN with 10 warheads and a throwable mass of 7, 2 (RS-20A) or 8, 8 (RS-20B / V) tons.

The RS-20A was developed on the basis of the solutions of the Yangelevskaya P-36, but it was significantly modified. The most perfect modification was the RS-20V, the high combat effectiveness of which is ensured by the increased resistance of the missile in flight to the damaging factors of a nuclear explosion and the accuracy of hitting. In addition, the missile received more advanced means of overcoming missile defense.

Nuclear "Well done"

Combat railway missile system with RS-22 / RT-23UTTH "Molodets" (SS-24 Scalpel), USSR
Combat railway missile system with RS-22 / RT-23UTTH "Molodets" (SS-24 Scalpel), USSR

Information about the creation by the Americans of a new generation of ICBMs, MX, so excited the Soviet leadership that it initiated the development of several new ICBMs and accelerated work on a number of projects already underway. Thus, the Yuzhnoye design bureau was supposed to create a powerful ICBM, while not going beyond the limits of the signed agreements.

After a preliminary assessment, it was decided to create a solid fuel rocket. It was ordered to create three options: railway, mobile soil "Celina-2" (almost immediately canceled) and mine. Flight design tests of the RS-22V ICBM (RT-23UTTKh) for the combat railway missile complex (BZHRK) began at the Plesetsk test site on February 27, 1985 and ended on December 22, 1987.

Flight design tests of the missile for silos began on July 31, 1986 and successfully completed on September 23, 1987. Our missile was named "Well done", and in the West it was given the designation SS-24 Scalpel ("Scalpel").

The first train was put on trial operation in Kostroma, and later another three dozen ICBMs of this type were deployed. "On vacation" the trains were in stationary structures at a distance of about 4 kilometers from each other. As for the silo missiles, from August 19, 1988, the first missile regiment took up combat duty, and by July 1991, the Strategic Missile Forces received 56 silos with ICBMs. Moreover, only 10 of them were located on the territory of the RSFSR, and after the collapse of the USSR, only they remained with Russia. The remaining 46 ended up on the territory of Ukraine and were liquidated due to the announcement of the latter of its nuclear-free status.

This rocket also launches in the "mortar" way, tilts in the air with the help of a powder charge, and only then starts the main engine. Shooting could be performed from any point on the patrol route, including from electrified railways. In the latter case, special devices for short-circuiting and tapping the contact network were used.

"Molodets" was equipped with 10 warheads with a capacity of 500 (550) kilotons. The stage of dilution was performed according to the standard scheme, and the head part was covered with a fairing of variable geometry.

Each "special train" was equated to a missile regiment and included three M62 diesel locomotives, three seemingly ordinary refrigerated rail cars (a distinctive feature - eight wheelsets), a command car, cars with autonomous power supply and life support systems and for accommodating personnel on duty shifts. There are 12 cars in total. Each of the "refrigerators" could launch a rocket both as part of a train and in an autonomous mode. Today one such car can be seen in the Museum of the Ministry of Railways in St. Petersburg.

Those who served in such "armored trains" recall that often the train with the inscription on the cars "For the carriage of light cargo" after passing so spoiled the track that then it had to be thoroughly repaired. I wonder if the railroad workers had any idea what kind of "monster" drives around here at night?

Maybe they guessed, but kept quiet. But the fact that it was thanks to these special trains that the Ministry of Railways was forced to reconstruct many thousands of kilometers of railway lines throughout the country in a fairly short time is the absolute truth. So the "Molodets" on wheels not only increased the country's defense capability, but also helped in the development of the national economy, increasing the reliability and service life of some of the railways.

RS-22 flight scheme
RS-22 flight scheme

Orbital warheads

After on October 4, 1957, the first artificial satellite in the world was launched by a Soviet carrier rocket (and in fact by an R-7 combat rocket) into a near-earth orbit, the leading American media erupted in a whole wave of publications, the main core of which was the very fantastic threat of the appearance of soon in near-earth orbits a huge swarm of Soviet "orbital warheads". To combat them, the United States even began to create a multi-layered anti-missile and anti-satellite defense system consisting of interceptor missiles, anti-satellite missiles, satellites - orbital inspectors and combat satellites, the so-called "space fighters". And already in 1959, the Americans made at least two attempts to shoot down satellites in low-Earth orbit.

Fear, as they say, has large eyes. But who would then have thought that science fiction in the near future, through the efforts of Soviet designers, would become a reality and the most "mortal threat" for the United States and NATO.

In the mid-60s of the last century, the idea of creating some kind of "global rocket" and "orbital warhead" began to be worked out in the USSR. The latter provided for a partially orbital bombardment of objects on enemy territory: a nuclear warhead on a launch vehicle (ICBM) is launched into space, into near-earth orbit, and there it turns into a kind of artificial mini-satellite, which is waiting for an attack command. Having received such, the "orbital warhead" turned on the engine and went out of orbit, starting a dive at its assigned target.

It was almost impossible to intercept such a "cunning" warhead.

The program of creating an "orbital warhead" reached its peak on November 19, 1968, when the R-36orb ICBM entered service with the Soviet Strategic Missile Forces. Its test was successful and "according to the full program" was carried out on December 16, 1965, the rocket was launched from Baikonur and did everything that was supposed to be done. Well, except that the warheads did not fall into the territory of the United States. The program for the creation of the "Global rocket" (GR-1) was closed for technical reasons, as well as the project of the R-46 rocket.

The R-36orb ensured the launching of a warhead into orbit of an artificial Earth satellite of an orbital warhead (OGCH) and its descent from orbit to a target outside the reach of an ICBM or from directions not protected by enemy missile defense systems.

In the United States, the Russian OMS received the designation FOBS - Fractional Orbit Bombardment System (partial orbital bombardment system).

The Soviet engineers were stopped only by the well-known Outer Space Treaty signed in 1968 with the approval of the UN. According to it, the USSR and the USA pledged not to deploy weapons of mass destruction in outer space. And the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT-2) already "in black and white" prohibited the presence or development of such complexes. By 1984, the P-36orb were finally withdrawn from the mines.

Well, what could have actually happened if the two superpowers had not signed an agreement on peaceful outer space, anyone can see by watching the American adventure film "Space Cowboys" with Clint Eastwood in one of the main roles. It, of course, shows a missile-carrying combat satellite, not "orbital warheads." But still…

Wonder weapon

Having closed the topic of "orbital warheads", the Soviet military switched to conventional warheads - ideas arose about how to make them more accurate and less vulnerable to American missile defense systems.

For a long time these works were shrouded in mystery and speculation. Therefore, the statement made by Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 18, 2004 at a press conference in Plesetsk on the occasion of the completion of the large-scale exercise "Security 2004" sounded like a bolt from the blue and plunged our Western "partners" into a state described in medicine as a shock.

The fact is that Putin uttered an unexpected phrase: they say, over time, the Russian Armed Forces will receive "the latest technical systems that are able to hit targets at intercontinental depth with hypersonic speed, high accuracy and the ability to deep maneuver in height and course." And then he added, as if he had made a "control shot in the head": there are no random words in his message, each of them has a meaning!

Only later the first deputy chief of the General Staff, Colonel-General Yuri Baluyevsky, reported that two ICBMs, Topol-M and RS-18, had been launched during the exercise. It was on the latter that there was an "experimental apparatus" that "can bypass regional missile defense systems, bypass certain means that can control it, and, by and large, the apparatus can solve problems of overcoming missile defense systems, including promising ones." …

It turns out that instead of a typical warhead that flies along an unchanged ballistic trajectory, we create a device that can change both direction and altitude. According to our commanders, such a system will be put into service by 2010.

Most likely, such a device is equipped with ramjet engines of a special design, which allow the warhead to maneuver in the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds. In the words of the head of our state, these are very "serious complexes that are not a response to a missile defense system, but for which there is a missile defense system, that there is no missile defense system, it makes no difference."

So, ICBMs do not just not go into the reserve or retire, but, on the contrary, continue to improve, acquire a "second youth."

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