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    Strategic Missile Troops (ICBMs): Discussion & News

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    GarryB
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    Re: Strategic Missile Troops (ICBMs): Discussion & News

    Post  GarryB on Wed Dec 21, 2011 7:59 am

    I would have loved to have seen the US have a really good president that instead of setting a goal to beat the Soviets to the moon to get over not getting into space first (another misnoma... the US claims to have won the space race, when in actual fact it won the race to put a man on the moon... it lost the race to space in every regard... first satellite, first animal, first man in space, first man in orbit, first to take photos of the far side of the moon that is never visible from earth, first to land stuff on the moon etc etc were all Soviet victories...), that they had set the goal to do the opposite of their invention of consumerism... to develop green technology that will more efficiently use the resources we have and get us off our dirty energy dependencies on Coal and Oil and the technology to make plastic that wont pollute the earth for a million years.

    It would take advantage of the American spirit with clear and achievable goals, and the result would probably be that we would already be on Mars now because the technology needed for humans to efficiently use less rather than more would mean we could set up self sufficient colonies in space and on the moon and all over the place.

    Instead of the west dependent on foreign places for oil and other energy resources the US cold be making money selling these new green technologies to Africa and other countries that could use high tech solutions that don't pollute and create seas of rubbish like the consumer society the US is exporting does.

    Opportunity missed. Could have been an opportunity for Obama, but he was made largely toothless because Republicans cared more about making Obama look bad than actually doing something that might benefit the people of the US.

    No great surprise... all that money for bailouts for the banks and they are either hanging on to it or investing it in foreign countries to get the best return on their dollar. The US government should have made demands to ensure the money was invested in the US economy to create jobs and get things going, but for a slightly higher return they spent most of the money in China or they are hanging on to it for a rainy day and multi million dollar retirement packages for the CEOs.

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    Re: Strategic Missile Troops (ICBMs): Discussion & News

    Post  GarryB on Wed Dec 21, 2011 8:20 am

    BTW I think the world will be a much better place with more dominant countries, rather than one or two dominant players.

    A strong China and India and Brazil and Russia and South Africa and other nations is a good thing in my opinion.

    The US and the west seems to want a bunch of yes men and for the international bodies like the UN to be a rubber stamp tool to meet their needs... which is clearly not healthy for anyone.

    With more voices being heard and more players able to punnish other players for breaking the rules, their might not be fewer wars, but there will be fewer safe wars like the US interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan which have done absolutely nothing to make Americans safer.

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    Re: Strategic Missile Troops (ICBMs): Discussion & News

    Post  Firebird on Wed Dec 21, 2011 7:33 pm

    I wonder about how superpower standoffs / arms races will be in the future.

    The US missile shield is an absolute disgrace. The obvious solution is to start building big Russian bases in Cuba, Venezuela, the Caribbean etc. The justification is simple. America hides behind peaceful European nations that Russia has no intention of attacking. America continues to bully her neighbours, so Russia can protect them and equalise the harrassment she gets from Americans meddling in Europe.

    The American "Conservatives" are really just loudmouths, bloodmongers and economic parasites. However, other states must consider the future direction of defence in order to guard against American problems.

    Currently, its highly unlikely American missiles can "catch" many, if indeed any Russian ones.
    However, I would consider the fact that smaller short range missiles don't have the weight, and may be developed as more manouverable and stealthy over a long time. An American base stationed near Russia, could "chase" a missile on its way to America.

    Russia has numerous options here. It can take the potential war to America - a good idea. ie build reciprocal missile and anti-missile bases near the US. It should also solidify alliances more - with EU partners, India, Lat-Am and others.

    Ironically, the easiest way for Russia to destroy America wouldn't even need ICBMs.
    Suitcase nukes could be stored in American cities/ strategic sites. and no-one would have an inkling they were there.

    The American generated arms race is as much about American Neo-Cons extracting money from an ignorant populance as anything else. You only need to look at their ridiculous Stealth fighter programme..

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    Re: Strategic Missile Troops (ICBMs): Discussion & News

    Post  GarryB on Wed Dec 21, 2011 9:35 pm

    There was one interesting idea from Russia about a good cold war weapon that might apply, and that was a mini sub with a compact AIP nuclear reactor.

    Imagine a small 1,000 ton or less mini sub with a nuclear power plant instead of a diesel plus batteries and electric drive.

    The reactor is not a conventional reactor, it is of the type used to power satellites that are in the earths shadow too often to make solar panels useful. The reactor is like a big battery that generates a few hundred kilowatts for about 13 years.

    The point is that with that power you can charge batteries and operate CO2 scrubbers, and once the batteries are charged you can operate on them in quiet conventional sub mode. Even when charging the batteries you are running quiet as there is no diesel engine.

    The negative consequence is that your sub wont be fast, the positive consequence is that you have the underwater duration of a nuclear powered sub at much reduced cost.

    The idea is basically have 30-40 of these mini subs with crews of 15-20 men with massive food reserves that can sail to the US coasts and operate there for a month at a time and then sail home... each sub will be armed with a few torpedos for self defence but as a main weapon payload these will be ballistic missile subs armed with a mini SLBM with a flight range of 3-4,000km. A load of 2-4 missiles that can pretty much all be fired at once from underwater means a very quiet sub to hunt with a deadly payload that has a short flight time to target on a depressed trajectory very very close to the US.

    Note the nuclear power plant is safe and tested and has no moving parts and when it was fitted to a rather old SS the performance went from 350NM underwater range to 7,000NM underwater range, and the latter was mainly because the underwater speed is something like 4KNTs and they pretty much ran out of food... with one nuclear battery they had an unlimited supply of fresh water and air and continuous electrical power source of about 600 KW or so I believe.

    With newer and more modern and efficient electronics and electrical hardware and newer power plants a future vessel would be a very interesting idea.

    Of course they are currently developing an AIP for their new LADA class subs that uses fuel cell technology, except instead of using stored Hydrogen, which is a fire risk and an infrastructure problem at every port it operates from, it apparently uses chemicals drawn directly from diesel... which is carried on a diesel electric sub anyway.

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    Re: Strategic Missile Troops (ICBMs): Discussion & News

    Post  ahmedfire on Thu Dec 22, 2011 5:02 pm

    nominal flight time of a ballistic missile traveling between the U.S. and Russia is about 30 minutes; it is 12 minutes for a missile launched by a submarine stationed off the coast

    the entire process of detecting and evaluating the attack warning must be completed in less than 7 minutes. According to retired military officers, the President is then given a 30 second briefing. If the attack warning is still believed to be real, the president is then given a series of options, all of which have been planned well in advance.
    If the attack is believed to come from a submarine, the President will be told that he then has as little as 10 seconds to make the decision whether or not to launch a responsive nuclear attack. This is because the nuclear warheads delivered by a SLBM will arrive in slightly more than four more minutes. The order to launch must be immediately conveyed to launch crews sitting in underground bunkers, who control the missiles. The missiles must then be fired and clear the upper atmosphere before the incoming warheads began to detonate.

    www.wagingpeace.org/articles/pdfs/2011_06_24_starr.pdf

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    Re: Strategic Missile Troops (ICBMs): Discussion & News

    Post  GarryB on Thu Dec 22, 2011 9:31 pm

    nominal flight time of a ballistic missile traveling between the U.S. and Russia is about 30 minutes; it is 12 minutes for a missile launched by a submarine stationed off the coast

    Not strictly true as it really depends where the submarine is and where its targets are... a submarine can legally operate in US economic waters... it can get to just over 12 miles from US soil before the US actually has any rights to take any action.

    A bold, or clever captain could operate 12.5 miles off the coast in all electric super quiet mode for months on end... tests have shown that active sonar is needed to keep track of such a threat most of the time, so a Russian sub in Cuban or even Canadian or Mexican waters could enable less than 5 minutes warning depending on the target... much like the US Jupiter missiles in Turkey that created the Cuban missile crisis.

    The Iskander is a tiny missile, they could develop a sub launched missile with similar design parameters that flys a non ballistic path with lots of manouvers that would make interception incredibly difficult as the missile speed would be quite high.

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    Re: Strategic Missile Troops (ICBMs): Discussion & News

    Post  ahmedfire on Fri Dec 23, 2011 12:38 pm

    GarryB wrote:
    nominal flight time of a ballistic missile traveling between the U.S. and Russia is about 30 minutes; it is 12 minutes for a missile launched by a submarine stationed off the coast

    Not strictly true as it really depends where the submarine is and where its targets are... a submarine can legally operate in US economic waters... it can get to just over 12 miles from US soil before the US actually has any rights to take any action.

    A bold, or clever captain could operate 12.5 miles off the coast in all electric super quiet mode for months on end... tests have shown that active sonar is needed to keep track of such a threat most of the time, so a Russian sub in Cuban or even Canadian or Mexican waters could enable less than 5 minutes warning depending on the target... much like the US Jupiter missiles in Turkey that created the Cuban missile crisis.

    The Iskander is a tiny missile, they could develop a sub launched missile with similar design parameters that flys a non ballistic path with lots of manouvers that would make interception incredibly difficult as the missile speed would be quite high.

    At the time of war , there is no economic water , U.S navy with ABM defences ,anti submarine forces will spread in any place that could reach thousands of miles to detect any threat,so there is no economic water line as i think,,

    Is the economic line is 200 nautical miles from coast ?


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    Re: Strategic Missile Troops (ICBMs): Discussion & News

    Post  GarryB on Fri Dec 23, 2011 10:33 pm

    At the time of war , there is no economic water , U.S navy with ABM defences ,anti submarine forces will spread in any place that could reach thousands of miles to detect any threat,so there is no economic water line as i think,,

    Normally a diesel electric is easy to track, because its diesel engines are noisy and when it is running on batteries it is slow.

    The use of a nuclear battery means this new type of sub will still be quite slow, but will never have to surface and run diesel engines to charge up its batteries.

    Such a vessel would be the ultimate stealth vessel... large SSNs are much faster, but their reactors make noise so they are not as quiet as a nuke electric sub.

    In times of peace the subs would lurk undetected in coastal waters off the US... they could even make the sub with spherical internal pressure hulls to allow it to go down very deep (ie 1,000m or more).

    In the event of a war a signal sent to the subs would initiate the conflict... so even if they have SSNs shadowing them the launch procedure would likely be fire the missiles and dive to 1,000m or deeper where US weapons can't follow.

    Potentially more dangerous than stealth bombers, and you could reassign them to regime change roles with conventional warheads in different regions... they would be useful as land attack subs and of course with torpedoes as an anti shipping vessel.

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    Re: Strategic Missile Troops (ICBMs): Discussion & News

    Post  Firebird on Sat Dec 24, 2011 1:50 am

    I think that unless we're at the epicentre of it, its all very difficult to speculate how Russia and America might resolve an escalating dispute.

    Ofcourse Russian SSNBs in the Arctic are still pretty undetectable. And I believe weaponry will get more and more stealthy, so that pure "defence" will get harder.
    Then there's the topics of plasma stealth, electromagnetic pulse type weapons etc.

    Suitcase nukes are of "moderate" power. But another method might be to assembley larger nukes on enemy soil prior to any conflict. Pretty effective missiles could be launched from a standard sea container cover.
    All of this makes me think that the whole missile shield debate seems to be a little bizarre.
    I'd have to say that both superpowers will always be able to pretty much obliterate each other.

    The big question is how the 2 might interrelate or have a balance of influence in the rest of the world. To me, thats pretty perplexing...

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    Re: Strategic Missile Troops (ICBMs): Discussion & News

    Post  GarryB on Sat Dec 24, 2011 2:24 am

    I am sure people living in West and East Germany during the Cold War had very different thoughts on WWIII and relations between the US and the Soviets than people like myself who are on the other side of the planet.

    Solutions can come from the people involved directly in an argument, but equally they can often be found from independent third parties.

    What one protagonist might see as showing weakness, an external observer might see as a gesture of good faith.

    As long as both sides see the conflict as something they can win, or even get out of alive the chance of conflict is greatly increased.

    MAD pretty much meant that both sides knew the other could destroy them which tempered their responses because while they didn't really understand each others views or motives, they knew neither wanted to be dead either.

    ABM systems are tools of politicians to win votes and popularity... it is like the anti abortionists calling their movement pro life. This means their opponents must therefore be pro death. Equally the number of doctors and nurses murdered by people claiming to be pro life you would think would be zero, yet it is not.

    For a politician it is easier to justify spending on missiles that shoot down ICBMs than to spend on ICBMs. Promising to try to stop the enemies attack sounds rather better than trying to kill more of them than they can kill of you.

    Its military value is pretty clear by looking at history.

    The ABM treaty allowed both sides to either build an ABM system with a maximum of 100 interceptors (at a time when each side had 6,000 plus strategic warheads each) around an ICBM field, or the capital city of the country.

    The Soviets chose to build their system around Moscow... not to save it, but to delay its destruction to ensure launch commands got to the various people it needed to to launch a full strike in retaliation.

    The US built an ABM system around an ICBM field... it was open for a day and was then shut down.

    They realised the futility of the exercise then.

    I'd have to say that both superpowers will always be able to pretty much obliterate each other.

    And that is what restrains them from actions like WWI and WWII, because they know if they trigger the other side to take that big step it is all over for everyone.

    ABM systems all over the place introduce doubt into MAD, along with weapon reduction treaties like START, and sneaky first strike systems like the B-2, someone might come to think it might actually be worth having a go.

    Remember for a time it was believed Iraq had WMDs and no one could convince them otherwise.

    For quite some time the entire west blamed Russia for the Georgian invasion of South Ossetia.

    If Japan was to invade the Kurile Islands, but says Russian forces opened fire first... who will the western world instantly believe?

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    Re: Strategic Missile Troops (ICBMs): Discussion & News

    Post  ahmedfire on Sun Dec 25, 2011 10:50 am

    The Threat from Russia

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    Re: Strategic Missile Troops (ICBMs): Discussion & News

    Post  GarryB on Sun Dec 25, 2011 11:56 pm

    Very biased.

    The collapse and reconstitution of the Soviet Union did not lead to its disarmament.

    The collapse of the Soviet Union led to the complete withdrawl of Soviet forces from Eastern Europe.
    It did not lead to a reciprocal withdrawl of US, British, and French forces back to their respective countries.
    It led to the entire Warsaw Pact joining NATO, and several former Soviet Republics joining NATO.

    It led to an enormous arms reduction in terms of nuclear weapons by the Russians just on economic grounds.

    It led to a NATO increase in power by several orders of magnitude as they absorbed the forces of the former WP and some Soviet republics.

    Whining about Russian cooperation with various states constitutes the rest of the article...

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    Russia test launches Stiletto missile

    Post  Russian Patriot on Wed Dec 28, 2011 11:31 pm


    Russia test launches Stiletto missile


    Russia successfully test launched an RS-18 (SS-19 Stiletto) intercontinental ballistic missile from the Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan on Tuesday, Defense Ministry spokesman Vadim Koval said.

    “The goal of the test launch is to prove the stability and basic technical characteristics of missiles of this kind,” Koval said.

    The Russian Strategic Missile Forces are considering the possibility of extending the RS-18 missiles’ service term by one year to 33 years, he added.

    A source in Russia’s defense industry said RS-18 missiles are currently used to test advanced warheads designed to penetrate missile defenses.

    Developed by the Chelomei Design Bureau, the RS-18 is a silo-based, liquid-propellant missile, which together with the RS-16 (SS-17) and RS-20 (SS-18) comprises the fourth generation of Russian strategic missiles. The missile is capable of carrying up to six warheads.

    The first RS-18 missiles entered service in 1975, with its improved version being put into service five years later.

    In late November, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered a series of steps intended to strengthen Russia’s missile defense capabilities in response to U.S.-European missile shield plans. Those plans include a possible deployment of Iskander tactical missiles near Russia’s Baltic Sea enclave of Kaliningrad “in the near future.”

    Russia is seeking written, legally binding guarantees that the U.S. missile shield will not be directed against it. Washington, however, has refused to provide those guarantees to Moscow and said it will not alter its missile defense plans despite increasingly tough rhetoric from Moscow.

    http://www.en.ria.ru/mlitary_news/20111227/170519962.html

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    Russian Missile Forces Hold High Alert Drills

    Post  Russian Patriot on Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:22 pm

    Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces are holding a series of exercises to practice putting road-mobile missile systems on high alert, SMF spokesman Col. Vadim Koval said.

    The exercises involve Topol (SS-25 Sikle), Topol-M (SS-27 Sickle B) and Yars (RS-24) mobile systems stationed in central Russia and Siberia.

    “SMF units armed with Topol, Topol-M and Yars road-mobile missile systems will practice patrolling, camouflaging and launch preparation procedures during high alert drills from January 16 to February 3,” Koval told reporters on Monday.

    The SMF are planning to hold over 100 tactical drills in the first half of 2012.

    As of January 2012, the SMF operated at least 162 mobile Topol systems, 18 mobile Topol-M and 15 mobile Yars systems.


    http://www.en.ria.ru/mlitary_news/20120117/170790557.html

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    Russian Strategic Missile Forces

    Post  George1 on Tue Sep 04, 2012 2:19 pm

    Russian Strategic Missile Forces embark on war games

    More than 8,000 servicemen and 300 military vehicles are involved in military maneuvers of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces which are getting under way on Tuesday.

    The participants in the drills will hone practical steps to prevent a nuclear war in case of an armed conflict with the participation of Russia.

    The war games, which will continue until September 7th, mark a closing stage in a series of command and post exercises and trainings held by the command of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces in 2012.

    http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_09_04/Russian-Strategic-Missile-Forces-embark-on-war-games/

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    Re: Strategic Missile Troops (ICBMs): Discussion & News

    Post  SOC on Tue Sep 18, 2012 2:41 am

    My look at the current and future state of Russian strategic forces, including the BMEW and ABM networks, is in the September issue of Jane's Intelligence Review (and is bolstered by a pretty badass satellite shot of the Armavir Voronezh). If any of you get ahold of a copy, let me know what I dorked up so I can do better next time!

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    Re: Strategic Missile Troops (ICBMs): Discussion & News

    Post  TheRealist on Tue Sep 18, 2012 3:43 am

    May I ask what that satellite which you are referring? Thank you.

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    Re: Strategic Missile Troops (ICBMs): Discussion & News

    Post  SOC on Tue Sep 18, 2012 3:46 am

    That one was a Geoeye image, from May of this year.

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    Re: Strategic Missile Troops (ICBMs): Discussion & News

    Post  George1 on Thu Sep 20, 2012 7:34 pm

    Teikovo Division Gets Full Arsenal of New Missile Systems

    The Teikovo missile division of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces (SMF), based in central Russia, has been fully equipped with advanced Topol-M and Yars ballistic missile systems, the defense ministry said on Thursday.

    “The Teikovo division has become the first SMF division fully rearmed with fifth-generation mobile missile systems,” the ministry spokesman Col. Vadim Koval said. Two regiments of the Teikovo division are equipped with Topol-M systems while the other two regiments of the division are equipped with Yars systems.
    The Yars missile system is armed with the multiple-warhead RS-24 intercontinental ballistic missile that has considerably better combat and operational capabilities than the Topol-M (SS-27 Stalin).
    Two more missile divisions have started receiving the Yars systems in 2012, Koval said. The Novosibirsk division (in Siberia) will receive mobile Yars systems, while the Kozelsk division (in central Russia) will be armed with the silo-based version of the system.
    The SMF said last year that the Topol-M and RS-24 ballistic missiles would be the mainstay of the ground-based component of Russia's nuclear triad and would account for no less than 80% of the SMF's arsenal by 2016.

    http://worldwide-defence.blogspot.com/2012/09/teikovo-division-gets-full-arsenal-of.html

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    Re: Strategic Missile Troops (ICBMs): Discussion & News

    Post  ssk1777 on Sun Oct 21, 2012 11:16 am

    Looks like russia is still testing missiles.

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    Re: Strategic Missile Troops (ICBMs): Discussion & News

    Post  TR1 on Sun Oct 21, 2012 7:36 pm

    ssk1777 wrote:Looks like russia is still testing missiles.

    It never stopped- all of the arsenal types are launched periodically, to determine the life of the entire fleet- if it works, like is extended Smile .

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    Re: Strategic Missile Troops (ICBMs): Discussion & News

    Post  KomissarBojanchev on Sun Oct 21, 2012 7:55 pm

    Whats so important about a routine launch of an obsolete cold war missile?

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    Re: Strategic Missile Troops (ICBMs): Discussion & News

    Post  TR1 on Sun Oct 21, 2012 8:35 pm

    KomissarBojanchev wrote:Whats so important about a routine launch of an obsolete cold war missile?

    It shows the fleet of legacy missiles, which is still an important part of the Missile Forces, is still viable.

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    Re: Strategic Missile Troops (ICBMs): Discussion & News

    Post  GarryB on Mon Oct 22, 2012 9:46 am

    Actually the SS-19 is a quite good missile.

    It is a bit like food... you mix up a few hundred and you store them.

    The problem is that with missiles you have an idea of how long they should still remain workable but it is all rather a little bit of guesswork so every year you pick a few to launch to make sure they still do what they are supposed to be able to do.

    More importantly sometimes you might upgrade certain components so you will want to test to make sure everything still works.

    As new weapons are introduced you will remove the oldest models of a specific type where possible, but sometimes it makes more sense to get rid of a whole type rather than just get rid of the oldest, so for example it might make sense to get rid of all of the SS-25s even if some of them are younger than some of the SS-19s.


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    Re: Strategic Missile Troops (ICBMs): Discussion & News

    Post  Austin on Sun Nov 04, 2012 10:12 am

    MOSOW DEFENCE BRIEF

    Russian Strategic Missile Troops: at a Crossroads

    Aleksandr Stukalin, Kommersant Publising House

    Land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) have been at the core of the Soviet/Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces ever since they were first developed. In the early years the Soviet Union was lagging slightly behind its main adversary, the United States, in this type of weaponry, but that gap was soon closed. What is more, Moscow chose land-based ICBMs as the main component of its strategic military planning. In the 1960s it created large numbers of military units armed with the new long-range land-based missiles. The units were subordinated to the newly created Strategic Missile Troops Command (RVSN), a new armed service which had a very special place in the Armed Forces.

    By the end of the 1960s RVSN had become the main threat to the United States in the nuclear stand-off between the two superpowers. In the early years of that decade ICBMs effectively spelt the end of Soviet long-range aviation programs. Some say that was because Nikita Khrushchev simp ly did not like planes; others argue that there were good financial reasons for such a move. It is only very recently that the Russian government declassified the financial and economic reasoning behind the decision to choose missiles over bombers.1 Be that as it may, unlike the U.S. Air Force, the Soviet Air Force became largely irrelevant as a strategic nuclear component, and for the rest of the 20th century its presence in the nuclear triad was purely notional. The subsequent development of strategic submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) did not change the situation, either. SLMBs had eventually reached the same level of sophistication as land-based missiles. But for various operational, technical and infrastructure reasons, SLBMs “have always played a secondary and not entirely predictable role” in Soviet military planning, according to many experts.2 Thirty years later, when the Soviet Union broke up, the RVSN service and the ICBMs were still playing a dominant role in the Soviet/Russian nuclear capability.

    Difficult heritage


    In September 1990, shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Union, the RVSN service accounted for 56% of the Soviet strategic delivery systems (1,398 out of 2,500) and 64% of nuclear warheads (6,612 out of 10,271).3 The year 1990 was also the year when the number of deployed warheads reached its historical peak.4 The Soviet land-based ICBMs were operated by 36 missile divisions and brigades. There were seven main types of strategic missiles in service (SS-11, SS-13, SS-17, SS-19, SS-18, SS-24 SS-25), plus a large number of their various modifications.5 In terms of its power, structure, complexity and cost, the RVSN was a colossus. In later years many former Soviet and Communist Party leaders insisted that the service accounted for only 5-6% of current military spending in the last years before the Soviet collapse. The structure of Soviet military spending still remains classified - but even if those claims are true, such a low figure does not suggest that the RVSN service was cheap. It rather indicates how monstrously expensive the entire Soviet military machine was, and what a huge amount of money was being spent on other things, such as nuclear ammunition, military space programs, missile defense and air defense, the Navy, the Air Force, etc.

    When the Soviet Union broke up, 334 ICBMs (about 24 per cent of the total deployed number) were left in the newly independent republics.6 One of the initial proposals for dividing the Soviet nuclear forces relied on a naive and patently unviable system under which those forces (including RVSN) would take their orders from the united military HQ of the newly-established Commonwealth of Independent States. The idea was that any actual use of nuclear weapons would require a collective authorization of all the CIS countries, and that the weapons themselves would be physically controlled by the MoDs of the newly independent states.

    All such plans were far removed from reality. A “common” strategic nuclear force would necessarily require a common army. That was entirely out of the question - even the proponents of the idea recognized as much. For example, when the first deputy chief of the Russian General Staff, Col. Gen. Mikhail Kolesnikov, was asked in 1992 about the mechanisms of cooperation with the Ukrainian General Staff, his response was honest and unambiguous: “For now, there is no cooperation”.7 Nor was there any such cooperation in later years. The best that could be expected under the circumstances was to find a civilized mechanism of eliminating the strategic nuclear capability of those newly independent states which had inherited Soviet nuclear weapons. After lengthy diplomatic horse-trading, such a mechanism was found. In 1992-1996 Ukraine dismantled its entire arsenal of 176 missiles, including the UR-100N UTTKh (SS-19) and R-23 UTTKh (SS-24) systems. Kazakhstan eliminated its 104 R-36 (SS-18) missiles, and the 54 mobile ground-based Topol missiles (SS-25) inherited by Belarus were removed to Russia and deployed there.

    Two decades on, it is clear, however, that the main problems faced by RVSN in the early post-Soviet years had little to do with the loss - substantial though it was - of the weapons and infrastructure left in the newly independent states. The self-destruction of the Soviet Union had transformed, instantly and radically, the entire geopolitical landscape and left the Strategic Nuclear Forces without a reason for being, i.e. without their main “potential adversary”. There was a radical shift from global confrontation to global partnership with the United States. Unprecedented progress was being made in disarmament, including the complete elimination of intermediate and short-range missiles; large reductions of conventional forces and armaments in Europe had been agreed. In such a climate the obvious question was, does Russia still need the strategic nuclear forces? And if so, what should be their size and shape? How can the country pay for that size in peacetime? Civilian and military specialists alike were making radical proposals to cut the nuclear force to one-tenth of its former size, to liquidate the nuclear triad, and to put all the remaining nuclear weapons in storage.

    Even the defense minister, Army Gen. Pavel Grachev, had this to say about RVSN at the time: “Some of the missiles which remain on Russian territory have been taken off combat duty. Others are still on duty, but they have no specific targets. The general directions for them have been set, but no specific targets. In Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine all the missiles have been taken off combat duty and moved into reserve. They can be used only with the consent of the presidents, and only for a retaliatory strike. But I do not believe that such strikes remain a real possibility. I just cannot imagine that a nuclear missile will ever be launched from one continent to another…”8.

    While people were discussing whether the missiles should be targeted or not, the RVSN service was struggling with the fallout of the Russian social revolution in the early 1990s - including hunger strikes by military officers. Meanwhile, the remaining ICBM arsenal still remained very costly to maintain, and the Russian treasury simply could not afford that kind of spending.9 In 1994 the government disbursed less than 50 per cent of the severely reduced budget allocation for RVSN. The service was receiving nowhere near the aforementioned 5-6 per cent of total military spending, and its commanders were left begging the federal government “for at least a minimally sufficient level of funding”.10

    No wonder, then, that the new strategic nuclear cuts agreed with the United States were met without any resistance - and perhaps even with some relief - among the military.11 The 1991 START-I treaty, which Russia inherited from the Soviet Union, had already entered into force. In January 1993 the two countries signed the START-II treaty, which mandated a serious restructuring of the Russian strategic nuclear forces. It substantially reduced the proportion of the RVSN service in the overall Russian nuclear count, and put severe restrictions on future development of land-based missiles.

    No real choice


    Nevertheless, the strategic missile troops still required a lot of attention, and there was very little time to waste. When the Soviet Union fell, most of the seven main ICBM types in service had already reached various degrees of obsolescence. Some of those missiles, especially the SS-11 and SS-13, were already being decommissioned. Only three ICBM types were still in production: the heavy silo-based R-36M2, the solid-fuel RT-23 UTTKh missile, which has a silo-based and a mobile version mounted on a rail platform; and the Topol, mounted on a wheeled chassis. The designer and manufacturer of the R-36M2 and the RT-23 UTTKh missiles, the Yuzhnoye Research and Production Company (NPO Yuzhnoye), is based Ukraine. Deliveries of the two missile types to the RVSN arsenals stopped almost immediately after Ukraine gained independence. The RT-2PM Topol ICBM was designed by the Moscow Thermal Technology Institute (MIT). It remained in production at the Votkinskiy Machinery Plant in Russia. In 1990 RVSN had 306 such missiles; the figure rose to 333 in 1991, 351 in 1992, and peaked at 369 in 1993. 12

    Topol, however, was no longer entirely adequate to the RVSN command’s requirements in terms of its performance and specifications. The strategic missile troops wanted a missile with a greater throw weight, more capable of penetrating the adversary’s missile defenses, and suitable for launch from silos as well as mobile platforms. The need for a replacement for the Topol became obvious even before the break-up of the Soviet Union. That break-up came when the RVSN service was not only at the peak of its power, but also in the middle of another round of technology refresh. As a result, in addition to the world’s largest missile arsenal Russia inherited at least five new ICBM missile types at a fairly advanced stage of R&D.

    Such a large number of new missiles in the pipeline was the result of a new bout of tensions between Moscow and Washington in the late 1970s - early 1980s. There was a series of crises over intermediate-range missiles in Europe; over Afghanistan; over several “strategic offensive initiatives” (the MX and Midgetman ICBMs, the Trident-II SLBM, and the B-1 bomber); and finally over Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative. With hindsight, the Soviet leadership had clearly overestimated the threat posed by the SDI program. Meanwhile, the government in Washington had a similar over-reaction to some of the Soviet steps. All of this had resulted in a new bout of the arms race.13 The Soviet countermeasures against the SDI program took a while to develop; it takes quite a long time to finalize a list of requirements for new weapons systems. As a result, it was not until the late 1980s that all those systems had entered the final stages of R&D. By the early 1990s there were five new missiles nearing production:

    Ikar (R-36M3), a major upgrade of the R-36M2v heavy liquid-fuel missile, with a much greater anti-missile defense capability and more resilient to the effects of a nuclear explosion. The missile was designed by NPO Yuzhnoye (Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine);

    Yermak (RT-23M), a major upgrade of the RT-23 UTTKh solid-fuel missile, also more capable against missile defenses and more resilient to nuclear explosions; designed by NPO Yuzhnoye;

    Kuryer, a new compact solid-fuel ICBM mounted on a wheeled chassis, designed by MIT (Moscow). The missile had already entered flight development tests;14

    Albatros, a new solid-fuel ICBM, with a silo-based and mobile version, equipped with a gliding winged warhead; designed by NPO Machine-building (a company based in Reutov)

    Universal, a new solid-fuel ICBM, with a silo-based and mobile version, designed by NPO Yuzhnoye (the silo-based version) and MIT (the mobile version). The missile was ready for flight development tests.15

    The Russian military leadership therefore appeared to have a wealth of new missile types to choose from -but appearances were deceptive. The Ikar and Yermak projects had been officially suspended even before the break-up of the Soviet Union, and there was no chance of them being resumed after the basic models, the R-36M2 and R-23 UTTKh, were discontinued. The Albatros project was struggling with major problems at the design stage, and its chances looked slim even before 1991. The compact Kuryer seemed very promising back at the time when RVSN could afford to operate the entire range of missile types, from extra-compact to super-heavy. But in the new circumstances it could not be a candidate for a core ICBM type. But now it could not be considered as a candidate for a main ICBM type; its energy and mass characteristics were insufficient to carry the kind of warheads the military required, or to make it resilient enough to missile defenses.

    Universal -a light ICBM. The list of requirements for it was drawn up (before the break-up of the Soviet Union) to reflect the limitations of the START-I treaty. The wording of the treaty left sufficient wiggle room to pass off an entirely new missile as an upgrade of an existing one.

    It was therefore the only real choice left to the Russian MoD. The missile was eventually brought to the mass production stage, albeit not without problems. Universal was originally a joint design of MIT and NPO Yuzhnoye. The Ukrainian company was responsible not only for the silo-based version of the missile; its part of the project also included the first-stage engines, the missile defense countermeasures, the payload fairing, and the assembly of the first prototypes for flight development tests. In theory, continuing cooperation with Ukraine in order to bring the Universal to completion was not entirely unthinkable, and the issue was seriously discussed at some point.

    The Russian and Ukrainian accounts of why such cooperation never took place are very different. The Ukrainian side of the story was given by NPO Yuzhnoye in an official history of the company published in 2004.16 The Russian side can be found in the unofficial memoirs published by Col. Gen. Aleksandr Ryazhskikh (deputy RVSN commander for armament in 1984-1993) that same year.17 According to the Russian general, working with the Ukrainian co-developer and its subcontractors became entirely impossible after Ukraine’s independence, and for a whole host of very good reasons. For its part, Yuzhnoye says it did everything it possibly could -and was prepared to do even more -to keep working with the Russians on the Universal project. The company’s lead designer, Stanislav Konyukhov, even asked Russian President Boris Yeltsin to intervene -but to no avail. The only thing the two countries eventually agreed on was that the Ukrainian co-developer would hand over to its former Russian partner the parts of the project which had already been completed.

    Topol-M instead of Universal

    Be that as it may, the sole remaining developer of the Universal, the Moscow Thermal Technology Institute (MIT), was tasked with making the half-Ukrainian missile as Russian as it possibly could - and MIT delivered. The first regiment armed with 10 new silo-based ICBMs began combat duty as part of the missile division based in Tatishchevo, near Saratov, on December 30, 1998. To comply with the terms of the START-I treaty, the missile was designated as Topol-M, an upgrade of the existing Topol (RS-12M VARIANT 2, using the wording of the treaty). The mobile version of the Topol-M took a lot longer to bring to production; the first regiment armed with it began combat duty as part of a missile division in Teykxovo (Ivanovo Region) only in 2006. By the end of 2012, fourteen years after the first Topol-M missiles were deployed, the number of silo-based units in service was expected to reach 60.18 There are currently only 36 mobile missiles in service, including 18 Yars units, which are a MIRV-ed modification of the Topol-M.

    The deployment of Yars, also known as the Topol-MR, was made possible by the expiry of the START-I treaty and by the Russian and American withdrawal from START-II. For the next few years Yars will remain the only ICBM in mass production in Russia. In terms of its design and components Yars has a lot in common with the Bulava, a new SLBM also designed by MIT. 19

    Russia has officially announced that another three of the existing missile divisions will be rearmed with the Yars. More specifically, mobile Yars missiles will replace the old Topols currently in service with the Irkutsk and Novosibirsk divisions. In Kozelsk, silo-based Yars missiles will replace the UR-100N UTTKh. 20 For now, it is not clear how long that rearmament program will take. Judging from the already cited figures for the Topol-M deployment, only about six or seven new missiles were deployed in an average year. Let us recall that in 1985-1993, 369 mobile Topol missiles were deployed in the Soviet Union / Russia, which translates into an average rate of 41 ICBMs per year. The old Topols are now being retired at a similar rate. According to information exchanges between Russia and the United States under the START-I treaty, over the four-year period between mid-2005 and mid-2009 the number of the deployed SS-25 ICBMs fell from 294 to 176.

    Plans for the rearmament of the RVSN service with new strategic missiles are still facing a number of old problems. These include frequent interruptions in financing, managerial and administrative issues (including disputes over price formation), and technology-related difficulties. 21 Much of the production machinery at the Votkinskiy plant has long needed replacing, but it is only now that the company is beginning to roll out a technology refresh program. 22 The government has considered the possibility of building an entirely new plant to make the new missiles, but left the final decision to the MoD. For now, the ministry does not seem very keen on the idea. 23

    The Topol-M, which used to be half-Ukrainian, may have become as Russian as it possibly could - but its manufacturer is still dependent on foreign suppliers of technology, components and materials. The list of imports includes elements of the missile’s frame (such as non-metallic fibers), fuel, electronics, parts of the launchers, etc. The chief designer of MIT, Academician Yuriy Solomonov, fears that such dependence on imports will continue to grow. 24 The RVSN service as a whole also remains dependent on some areas of cooperation with the Ukrainians. The Ukrainian government releases annual reports listing the hardware and technologies being supplied to Russia “as part of cooperation in space exploration and the development and operation of space and missile equipment”. Judging from those reports, imports from Ukraine of various components and materials for the Russian strategic missiles remain very substantial. These imports are crucial for keeping in service all the remaining liquid-fuel ICBMs (R-36M UTTKh, R-36M2, and UR-100N UTTKh, which are getting regular extensions of their service life) and the Topol missiles which are still on combat duty. What is more, the Ukrainian government’s reports indicate that Ukraine is also involved in the production of another new strategic missile, the Sineva SLBM (3M37U2).25

    "Liquid" prospects

    Meanwhile, the 20-year monopoly of the Topol-M has come to an end. The restrictions on the types of ICBMs previously imposed by the old START and SALT treaties no longer exist; neither do the old limitations on the number of warheads each missile is allowed to carry.

    This has opened up new opportunities; the Russian MoD is energetically looking for the best alternatives to the remaining liquid-fuel ICBMs, which have long reached obsolescence and are well beyond their intended service life. These Russian efforts are being spurred by the Americans’ newly found enthusiasm for a global missile defense system. There has not exactly been a glut of new ideas in Russia as to how to counter the American missile defenses. Many experts who know a thing or two about the RVSN service and the strategic nuclear forces are proposing a resurrection of some old Soviet projects. These include the compact Kuryer ICBM, as well as the intermediate-range Skorost missile, which could potentially neutralize the European segment of the American missile defenses.

    Reputable sources have reported that serious R&D projects (such as the Neizbezhnost and Molodets) have been commissioned and conducted “to study the feasibility of developing new types of fixed-position and mobile (railway-based) missile systems”. As far as the railway-based systems are concerned, common sense has prevailed; it has been decided that there is no point resurrecting that technology. (The Soviet Union was the only country to deploy such systems, which relied on the R-23 UTTKh missile).26

    As for the fixed-position systems, the government has given the go-ahead to the Sarmat R&D project, which aims to develop a future liquid-fuel ICBM.27 At this point very little is known about the Sarmat. The project is led by the Makeyev State Rocket Center.28 The Chemical Automation Design Bureau in Voronezh (the designer of the UR-100N UTTKh and R-36M2 liquid-fuel ICBMs) has been tasked with modernizing the liquid-fuel rocket engines.29 OAO Avangard, based in Safonovo, Smolensk Region, is developing the transport and launch container.30

    The idea of returning to a liquid-fuel ICBM design is not new. Six years ago the lead designer of NPO Machine-building, Gerbert Yefremov, spoke of the “urgent need to deploy, starting from 2015-2016, a new powerful liquid-fuel missile with a gross launching mass of about 100 tonnes”.31 Since then proponents of the liquid-fuel missile technology have scored some notable points; work on the new liquid-fuel ICBM is now part of the State Armament Program to 2020. Their arguments in favor of the technology, however, remain largely the same.

    The main argument is the cost. Indeed, there is no denying that liquid-fuel missiles are cheaper to mass-produce than solid-fuel designs. (To illustrate, in 1983-1985 the purchase price of a UR-100N UTTKh missile was 809,000 roubles, whereas a T-80U main battle tank cost 824,000 roubles in the 1980s.32) But the running costs are an entirely different matter. It is hard to express in roubles the much greater complexity of operating and maintaining a liquid-fuel ICBM, or the dangers of handling the toxic fuel components - especially heptyl. Meanwhile, in his comparison of the liquid-fuel rockets made by NPO Yuzhnoye and NPO Machine-building versus the four solid-fuel rockets designed by MIT, Gen Aleksandr Ryazhskikh emphasizes the simplicity and reliability of the solid-fuel technology. He also speaks of “the very high price paid by the missile troops servicemen who operated missiles <…> working on heptyl and nitrogen tetroxide”.33

    Another argument regularly employed in this debate is that liquid-fuel missiles can achieve the kind of performance that solid-fuel technology can never hope to match. “The Topol can carry a maximum of three warheads, whereas a heavy missile can carry 10,” Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin said, commenting on the new project.34 “That alone demonstrates the effectiveness of heavy missiles.” But if the objective is to develop a new 100-tonne ICBM, then let us establish, first, that such a missile is in a different class from the light Topol, so it is unfair to make direct comparisons between the two. And second, let us recall that the RVSN has already operated a solid-fuel ICBM with a launch weight of about 100 tonnes and capable of carrying the required 10 warheads. The missile in question is the R-23 UTTKh, which entered service in the 1980s. In terms of its key specifications - i.e. mass, size and throw weight - the R-23 UTTKh matched the liquid-fuel UR-100N UTTKh. The former actually began to replace the latter in the silos - and would have completely replaced it, were it not for the fall of the Soviet Union. So it is not exactly clear why the government has chosen to upgrade the liquid-fuel UR-100 rather than the solid-fuel R-23.

    For some reason, however, the R-23 seldom figures in these debates. Another argument employed by proponents of the solid-fuel technology is that the Americans have long chosen it over the rival liquid-fuel technology (for reasons which include reluctance to work with heptyl). The staple response of the liquid-fuel lobby is that the Americans have long discovered the secret of a cheap solid fuel, while Russia has not, and therefore has no choice (and apparently never will) but to use liquid-fuel ICBMs. It is true that the Soviet Union had lagged behind the United States in solid fuel technology since the 1960s - hence its preference for liquid-fuel rockets. It must be said, however, that for 30 years the Soviet political and military leadership (as well as the actual operator of the ICBMs, the RVSN service) demanded that the Soviet industry close that technology gap with the Americans.

    The superiority of solid-fuel rockets over the liquid-fuel technology, on a balance of characteristics, has never been in doubt. As soon as the Soviet chemical industry achieved the required performance of solid fuel, the government began to prioritize the development of solid-fuel missiles. This is borne out by figures cited earlier in this article: out of the seven missile types in service with RVSN in 1990, three were solid-fuel missiles. But out of the five new ICBMs in development, four were solid-fuel missiles, and only one relied on liquid-fuel technology. The Soviet leadership had very nearly got what it always wanted: by the 1990s the RVSN was in a position to start replacing the existing arsenals with new solid-fuel ICBMs (including the already mentioned 100-tonne missiles). But that opportunity was missed.

    Twenty years on, the RVSN service remains the key component of the Russian strategic nuclear forces, both in terms of the delivery vehicles and the nuclear warheads. The future of the Russian nuclear capability depends on choosing the right path for the development of that service. The Americans discovered the secret of cheap solid fuel half a century ago. It is not exactly clear why the government in Moscow cannot get the Russian industry to achieve this long-overdue objective. There are too many gaping holes in the explanations which have been given thus far.

    1. A state goal of extreme importance. History of the creation of nuclear-missile weapons and the RVSN service (1945-1959): collection of documents / compiled by V.I. Ivkin, G.A. Sukhina - Moscow, ROSSPEN, 2010.

    2. Arbatov A. Russia's strategic dilemmas // Nezavisimaya gazeta, August 29, 1992.

    3. Russian strategic nuclear armaments / Ed. By P.L. Podvig - Moscow: IzdAT, 1998.

    4. Strategic ground-based missile systems - Moscow: Voyennyy parad, 2007.

    5. Report by RVSN commander Lt Gen A.A. Shvaychenko at a military history conference at the RVSN Military Academy on December 8, 2009.

    6. Pikayev A., Savelyev A. Soviet nuclear power: on the ground, in the seas and in the skies // Nezavisimaya gazeta, November 2, 1991.

    7. Gen Kolesnikov: Armed Forces are merely a government instrument // Nezavisimaya gazeta, November 2, 1991.

    8. Pavel Grachev: I do not believe in the possibility of retaliatory strikes // Rossiyskaya gazeta, October 21, 1992.

    9. PostFactum agency, April 3, 1992.

    10. Russian nuclear missiles are not targeted at anything // Nezavisimaya gazeta, December 15, 1994.

    11. Felgengauer P. The Russian General Staff supports START-II // Nezavisimaya gazeta, January 11, 1993.

    12. Fatherland's missile shield / Ed. By V.N. Yakovlev - Moscow: TsIPK RVSN, 1999.

    13. Hoffman D. "A Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and its Dangerous Legacy" - Moscow: Astrel: CORPUS, 2011.

    14. Ryazhskikh A.A. Turn around and look ahead. Diary of a military engineer. In 2 volumes - Moscow: Vagrius, 2004.

    15. Call of time. From confrontation to international cooperation / Ed. by S.N. Konyukhov - Dnipropetrovsk: Art-Press, 2004.

    16. Ibid.

    17. Ryazhskikh A.A. Op. cit.

    18. The sixth Topol regiment in Tatishchevo to be completely rearmed by end of 2012 - commander // RIA Novosti, May 5, 2012.

    19. Improving the legislation and regulation of the Russian defense industry amid the financial and economic crisis. Compilation of materials. - Moscow: Russian Council of the Federation, 2009.

    20. Teykovo RVSN division to be rearmed with new Yars missiles by end of summer - Russian MoD // Interfax-AVN, July 5, 2012.

    21. "The 2011 State Procurement Program will miss targets" - Interview with MIT chief designer Y.S. Solomonov // Kommersant, July 6, 2011.

    22. Votkinskiy weapons plant rolls out massive retooling program and launches new production facilities // ITAR-TASS, February 7, 2012.

    23. Putin leaves to the MoD the decision on building a new plant to make strategic missiles // Interfax, February 24, 2012.

    24. Improving the legislation and regulation of the Russian defense industry amid the financial and economic crisis. Compilation of materials. ??“ Moscow: Russian Council of the Federation, 2009.

    25. Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. Resolution No 53 of January 30, 2012 "On approving the list of items and quantities of goods imported and exported in accordance with the Agreement between the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and the Government of the Russian Federation on the transportation of goods as part of cooperation in space exploration and creation and operation of space-missile and missile technology".

    26. Cost efficiency the only unbiased criterion of assessing the options for the future of the strategic nuclear forces // Voyenno-promyshlennyy kuryer, March 2, 2011.

    27. Milkovskiy A. Reaching the space heights // Sputnik, November 26, 2011.

    28. "The 2011 State Procurement Program will miss targets" - Interview with MIT chief designer Y.S. Solomonov // Kommersant, July 6, 2011; Explanatory note to the annual balance as of December 31, 2011 for OAO NII Germes.

    29. 2011 Annual Report by OAO Chemical Automation Design Bureau.

    30. 2011 Annual Report by OAO Avangard.

    31. Yefremov G. Replacing old missiles with the Topol-M is anachronistic // Nezavisimoye Voennoye Obozrenie, May 26, 2006.

    32. Agreement of June 4, 1996 between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of Ukraine on the transfer for subsequent use of arms and military equipment of strategic missile systems.

    33. Ryzhskikh A.A. Op. cit.

    34. Russia to develop a new heavy liquid-fuel ICBM - Defense Ministry // Interfax-AVN, February 24, 2011.

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