Work continues on the BZHRK topic

Work continues on the BZHRK topic
Work continues on the BZHRK topic

Currently, the domestic defense industry is implementing several new projects aimed at updating the strategic missile forces. In the foreseeable future, the Strategic Missile Forces should receive several new missile systems. First of all, these are silo-based intercontinental missiles. Nevertheless, experts are also engaged in the topic of mobile missile systems. Over the past several years, the issue of creating new combat railway missile systems (BZHRK) - special trains equipped with launchers for ballistic missiles, has been regularly raised.


Recently, a message about the progress of a promising project was published by the Zvezda TV channel. It is argued that the 4th Central Research Institute of the Ministry of Defense, working in the interests of the Strategic Missile Forces, has successfully reported to the leadership of the military department on the conduct of some research work on the subject of BZHRK. The details of the work carried out were not disclosed. It is only known that the research was carried out "in the interests of creating promising mobile (railway) -based missile systems."

The Soviet Union and then Russia were already armed with combat railway missile systems of the 15P961 Molodets type with the RT-23UTTKh missile. The operation of these systems began in the mid-eighties and continued until the beginning of the two thousandth. From 2003 to 2007, all existing complexes were taken off duty. Most of the "Molodtsev" were disposed of, and two complexes were disarmed and became museum exhibits. During the disposal of railway missile systems, it was argued that they should be replaced by mobile soil systems of the Topol family and newer developments.

The main advantage of missile systems based on railway transport was and is considered to be their secrecy. After leaving the base on the country's railway network, the rocket train could move in any direction, which made it extremely difficult to detect. Although the weight characteristics of the Molodets complex imposed certain restrictions on the routes of movement, its effectiveness was highly estimated. Nevertheless, the full-fledged operation of the complexes lasted only a few years. In 1991, the leaders of the USSR and Western countries agreed to reduce patrol routes. In accordance with the agreement, Soviet BZHRK could only be on duty within their bases.

In 1993, the START II Treaty (Strategic Offensive Arms Reduction Treaty) appeared. One of the points of this agreement determined the further fate of the 15P961 railway missile systems. In accordance with the agreement, by 2003 Russia had to remove from service all RT-23UTTKh missiles. At that time, the Strategic Missile Forces had 12 trains with 36 launchers. The missile treaty obligations have been fully implemented. Missile systems left without ammunition were soon disposed of or sent to museums.

Soon after the start of the dismantling of the Molodets complexes, various statements and rumors began to appear regarding the possibility of creating a new BZHRK. Until a certain time, all conversations in this regard boiled down to the fact that the command of the Strategic Missile Forces and the leadership of the Ministry of Defense did not exclude the possibility of creating a new railway missile system. Any information about the start of work on a new project was not disclosed. Only in the spring of 2013, Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov spoke about the start of a new project. The head enterprise for the project of the new BZHRK became the Moscow Institute of Heat Engineering (MIT), which in recent years has created several missile systems for the Strategic Missile Forces.

At the end of last year, the commander-in-chief of the Strategic Missile Forces, Colonel-General Sergei Karakaev, said that the preliminary design of the new BZHRK would be completed in the first half of 2014. Other details of the work have not yet been announced. Recent information published by the Zvezda TV channel may indicate that MIT and the 4th Central Research Institute of the Ministry of Defense have completed preliminary work on the project and are ready to start developing a new missile system.

For obvious reasons, the technical appearance and characteristics of the promising BZHRK are still unknown to the public. Nevertheless, since the first information about the development of such a system appeared, assumptions about its possible appearance have been regularly expressed. According to various estimates, the new BZHRK as a whole will be similar to the decommissioned Molodets, but it should seriously differ from it due to the use of new systems and components.

The basis of the promising BZHRK, as before, will be a wagon equipped with a launcher. The 15P961 complex consisted of cars with launchers, disguised as refrigerators and equipped with a load distribution system for neighboring cars. The use of the latter was due to the weight of the rocket and the characteristics of the railway tracks. In a similar way, a launch vehicle for a promising missile system can be built.

The fact that the creation of a new BZHRK project was entrusted to the Moscow Institute of Thermal Engineering allows us to make some assumptions about a promising rocket. Probably, the ammunition for the new railway missile system will use some of the developments on the Topol-M, Yars and Bulava projects. The borrowing of ideas and technical solutions from missiles designed for mobile ground complexes, such as Topol-M or Yars, can bring some benefit to the project of a new rocket. These products have a much lower launch weight in comparison with the RT-23UTTKh rocket, which can greatly simplify their operation.

The characteristics of the new missiles and their combat equipment may be the subject of a separate discussion, since the exact information on this matter has not yet been announced and is unlikely to be announced within the next few years. Probably, the general characteristics of the promising BZHRK will be at the level of the indicators of the latest ground-based missile systems or higher.

It follows from various statements and assessments that a new combat railway missile system for the Strategic Missile Forces can be created by 2020. Thus, by the middle of the next decade, the missile forces can receive a sufficient amount of new technology that can have a serious impact on their combat effectiveness.

However, these time frames are purely an estimate. It is still unknown whether the Ministry of Defense will order the development of new railroad missile systems. Some features of such equipment may affect the decision of the military. During the operation of the "Molodets" complex, it was found that it has not only advantages, but also disadvantages. For example, despite the camouflage used, a train with missiles can be distinguished from civilian trains by some specific features. In addition, the heavy missile system required strengthening of the railway lines, and also led to their increased wear and tear. A characteristic feature of the BZHRK is its lower resistance to enemy attacks in comparison with silo-based missile systems.

Judging by the latest reports, the domestic defense industry is capable of creating a new combat railroad missile system. In this case, the military department has to weigh all the pros and cons of such systems and determine whether the industry should engage in the development and construction of new technology for the Strategic Missile Forces.

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