Rocket complex RSD-10 "Pioneer"

Rocket complex RSD-10 "Pioneer"
Rocket complex RSD-10 "Pioneer"

In 1988, in accordance with the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Short-Range Missiles, the Soviet Union decommissioned several missile systems covered by the agreement. The newest systems with a medium-range missile, which had to be abandoned, were the systems of the Pioneer family. Since the mid-seventies, these complexes have ensured the country's security and kept potential adversaries from attack. Nevertheless, due to their characteristics, the Pioneer complexes were cut down and were disposed of by the beginning of the nineties.

Rocket complex RSD-10 "Pioneer"
Rocket complex RSD-10 "Pioneer"

SPU 15U106 of the 15P645 "Pioneer" complex - SS-20 SABER in the prelaunch position (photo processing from the collection "Arms of Russia", MilitaryRussia. Ru, 2011)

The development of a new missile system, which received the 15P645 index and the name "Pioneer" (later the designation RSD-10 appeared), started in 1971 at the Moscow Institute of Heat Engineering (MIT) under the leadership of Alexander Davidovich Nadiradze. The engineers were required to create a new medium-range ballistic missile capable of hitting targets at ranges up to 4500-5000 km, and other elements of the missile system, including a mobile launcher on a wheeled chassis. To simplify the creation of a missile system, it was proposed to take the Temp-2S intercontinental missile as a basis. The two upper stages of a previously developed rocket were used as the basis for the Pioneer.

MIT was appointed the lead developer of the new project. In addition to this organization, the Titan Central Design Bureau, the Soyuz NPO and other organizations were involved in the creation of various components of a promising missile system. In accordance with the resolution of the Council of Ministers of April 20, 1973, it was required to complete the design work and begin testing the complex by the middle of the 74th. Such terms became one of the reasons that a large number of elements of the complex were borrowed with minor modifications from the Temp-2C project.

Tests of the new Pioneer missile system started in mid-1974. Flight tests began on September 21 of the same year. Development and testing of systems continued until the spring of 1976. On March 11, 1976, the State Commission signed an act on the acceptance of the new 16P645 missile system with the 15Zh45 missile into service with the Strategic Missile Forces. Delivery of new complexes to the troops soon began.

The main elements of the 15P645 Pioneer mobile ground missile system were the 15Zh45 ballistic missile and the 15U106 self-propelled launcher. Such an architecture of the complex made it possible to carry out patrolling at a distance from the bases and, after receiving an order, to launch a rocket in the shortest possible time.

The 15U106 self-propelled launcher was developed at the Volgograd Central Design Bureau "Titan". The basis for this vehicle was the MAZ-547V chassis with a 12x12 wheel arrangement. The total length of the launcher exceeded 19 m, the total mass of the complex (with a transport-launch container and a rocket) - 80 tons. Thanks to the 650 hp B-38 diesel engine. the 15U106 car could accelerate on the highway up to 40 km / s. It was provided to overcome the rise up to 15 °, the ditch up to 3 m wide and the crossing of water obstacles with a depth of no more than 1, 1 m ford.

On the 15U106 launcher, a lifting unit with hydraulic drives was mounted, designed to install the transport and launch container (TPK) of the rocket and bring it to a vertical position before launch. The 15Ya107 container was proposed to be made of fiberglass reinforced with titanium rings. The structure of the TPK was multilayer, with a layer of thermal insulation between the two fiberglass cylinders. The length of the TPK is 19 m. A cover of a characteristic hemispherical shape was attached to the front / upper end of the container on pyrobolts, to the rear / bottom - the case of a powder pressure accumulator (PAD), which provided the mortar launch of the rocket.


Rocket launch 15Ж45. On the left picture you can see the shooting of the ORP of the stage of breeding warheads, on the right - the shooting of the ORP of the 1st stage of the rocket. (Dyachok A., Stepanov I., Storen. Mobile ground-based medium-range missile system RSD-10 (RT-21M) (SS-20 "Saber"). 2008)

The launch of the Pioneer missiles of all modifications was carried out by the so-called. cold method. The product was ejected from the TPK due to the powder charge in the bottom of the container. For greater efficiency, the PAD body was made in the form of a cylindrical part attached to the TPK and a retractable cup located inside it. During the launch, the pressure of the PAD powder gases had to act on the rocket, and also push the glass of the hull down. Sinking to the ground, this part was supposed to serve as an additional support for the TPK. In case of abnormal combustion of a powder charge capable of destroying a rocket, the retractable glass had to break through and release the gas pressure inside the TPK.

Inside the transport and launch container, the rocket of the Pioneer complex was held by means of detachable support-leading belts (OVP), which also served as an obturator. Immediately after the missiles left the ORP container, they fired back and flew at a range of at least 150-170 m, which imposed certain restrictions on the organization of group missile launches from one site. In order to avoid damage to surrounding objects, the TPK cover being fired off was attached to the launcher with a cable and had to fall in the immediate vicinity of it.

The first ammunition developed as part of the Pioneer project was the 15Ж45 medium-range ballistic missile. It was created with extensive use of developments and rocket units of the Temp-2S complex, developed earlier. The design of the 15Zh45 rocket consisted of two sustainer stages, a breeding stage and an instrument compartment. With a total length of 16, 5 m, the rocket had a launch weight of 37 tons, a throw weight of 1.6 tons.

The first stage of the rocket with a length of 8.5 m and a weight of 26.6 tons was equipped with a 15D66 solid-propellant engine with a fiberglass body that used a composite fuel. To reduce the length of the rocket, the nozzle of the first stage engine was partially recessed into its housing. It was proposed to control the operation of the engine using gas-jet rudders made of heat-resistant material. These rudders were coupled with aerodynamic lattice rudders located on the outer surface of the rocket. The engine had a cut-off system.

The design of the second stage with a length of 4, 6 m and a mass of 8, 6 tons was similar to the architecture of the first stage. The second main stage was equipped with a 15D205 solid-fuel engine with a partially recessed nozzle. To change the range of the rocket, the second stage received a thrust cut-off system, designed anew, and not borrowed from the previous project. The flight control of the second stage was carried out using a system of gas rudders.

The 15Zh45 rocket breeding stage was equipped with four 15D69P solid-propellant engines with rotary nozzles. Small-sized engines were located on the lateral surface of the breeding stage, below the warheads. The combat equipment of the 15Zh45 missile consisted of three individually guided nuclear warheads with a capacity of 150 kt each. The warheads were located on the sides of the central cone of the instrument compartment and gave the missile head a characteristic appearance. Means of overcoming the missile defense were not envisaged.

The 15Zh45 ballistic missile received an inertial guidance system developed by the Moscow Scientific and Production Association for Automation and Instrumentation. The control system was based on an on-board computer and a gyro-stabilized platform. The capabilities of the control system made it possible to enter a flight task before lifting the rocket to a vertical position, and also provided the ability to fly in any direction, regardless of the position of the launcher. During the flight, the on-board control system used two-stage rudders and dilution stage engines to correct the flight trajectory.

According to official data, the 15Zh45 missile could deliver three individually guided warheads at a range of up to 4,700 km. The circular probable deviation (CEP) did not exceed 550 m.

The rocket launch of the Pioneer complex could be carried out both from a prepared open area and from the Krona protective structure. The latter was a disguised garage with gates at both ends. While on duty, the launchers of the Pioneer complex could enter such structures and await an order. Before launching, the roof of the structure was to be dropped with the help of squibs, after which the calculation of the complex should have been lifted by the TPK with a rocket and other preparatory operations should be performed. For camouflage, the structures of the "Krona" were equipped with electric furnaces. The structure with working ovens in the infrared range had the same appearance as the "Krona" with a launcher inside. The relatively large number of defensive structures made it difficult to track the Pioneer missile systems using reconnaissance satellites.

Regardless of the location, the launch procedure looked the same. Upon arrival at the position, the calculation had to hang the launcher on jacks and prepare the rocket for launch. All preparatory operations were carried out automatically after the appropriate command. During preparation for launch, the TPK lid was shot off and the container was raised to a vertical position. When launched, the PAD gases threw the rocket to a height of about 30 m, after which the OVP was fired and the first stage main engine was launched.

The 15P645 Pioneer mobile ground-based missile system was put into service in 1976. Serial production of missiles started a year earlier at the Votkinsk Machine-Building Plant. The first regiment, fully equipped with the Pioneers, took over duty in the summer of 1976. Missile systems "Pioneer" served in different regions of the USSR, which made it possible to "keep at gunpoint" a variety of targets in Europe, Asia and some part of North America. At the same time, the Pioneer complexes of all modifications served mainly in the European part of the Soviet Union. The number of missiles deployed east of the Urals never exceeded several dozen. New missiles have replaced obsolete weapons in the military, such as the R-14 ballistic missiles.

It is known that over the years of service of the Pioneer complexes in the strategic missile forces, 190 launches were made. All launches took place without serious malfunctions or accidents and ended with the fall of warheads in the target area.

According to some reports, information about the appearance of new medium-range missiles from the Soviet Union caused a real stir in the leadership of the NATO countries. In the documents of the North Atlantic Alliance, the Pioneer complex appeared under the designation SS-20 Saber. In addition, it is known about the existence of the unofficial nickname "The Thunderstorm of Europe", due to the tactical and technical characteristics of the complex.

Having completed the development of the 15Zh45 rocket, the unification of several organizations led by the Moscow Institute of Thermal Engineering began to improve this product. In August 1979, flight tests of the upgraded 15Zh53 rocket began. Testing and fine-tuning the rocket took about a year. In December 1980, the 15P653 "Pioneer-2" or "Pioneer-UTTH" ("Improved tactical and technical characteristics") complex with the 15Zh53 missile was put into service.

The first and second stages of the modernized rocket remained the same. All changes concerned only the control unit, which was located in the housing of the breeding stage. The use of new electronic equipment as part of the control system made it possible to reduce the CEP to 450 m. In addition, some sources mention the use of modernized dilution stage engines, which made it possible to increase the permissible distance between attacked targets.

In the mid-eighties, the USSR and the USA, realizing the danger of medium and short-range ballistic missiles, began negotiations, the purpose of which was to be a new international agreement. The result of these consultations was the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Short-Range Missiles, signed in December 1987 and entered into force in mid-1988. The agreement implied a complete abandonment of missile systems with a firing range of 500 to 5500 km. The RSD-10 / 15P645 / 15P653 "Pioneer" complexes fell under the contract, as a result of which their disposal began.

More than 520 Pioneer self-propelled launchers have reportedly been built over several years of production, although at the time of signing the agreement, only 405 launchers with 405 missiles were deployed. In total, the troops at that time had 650 missiles. In accordance with the agreement, by the end of 1988, the Pioneer complexes began to be removed from duty and disposed of. The last missiles, launchers and other elements of the 15P645 and 15P653 complexes were destroyed in the spring of 1991.

Currently, four launchers and TPK complex "Pioneer" are museum exhibits. Two samples are kept in Ukrainian museums: in the Military-Historical Museum of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (Vinnitsa) and in the Museum of the Great Patriotic War (Kiev). Two more copies are in Russian museums: in the Central Museum of the Armed Forces (Moscow) and in the museum of the Kapustin Yar training ground (Znamensk). In addition, several 15Ж45 missiles became museum exhibits. The rest of the launchers and missiles were destroyed.


The Pioneer missile system was distinguished by its high mobility, it could be quickly brought into combat condition and re-targeted at higher priority targets. The range of the Pioneer missile is 5,500 kilometers. The warhead could carry a nuclear charge with a capacity of one megaton.

Source: Infographics: Leonid Kuleshov / Artem Lebedev / Nikita Mityunin / RG

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