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Kapustin Yar - Testing

Aviation Week in an October 1957 story that revealed the U.S. had been tracking Russian missile launches from advanced long-range radar units in Turkey. The story was published in a turbulent time. Earlier that month, the Soviets had upped the ante in the Cold War by successfully launching Sputnik.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s special assistant for National Security Affairs, Robert Cutler, referred to the article as “treasonable” and suggested to a group of leading businessmen that advertisers should boycott the magazine. While a White House spokesman tried to deny the remarks, “the Associated Press quoted businessmen who had attended the meeting as saying Cutler 'violently' condemned Aviation Week, used the word 'treason' three times, called the publication of the article 'prosecutable' and suggested that 'you advertisers might want to reconsider' taking out ads in Aviation Week, the magazine reported in its Nov. 4, 1957, issue.

The article that caused the fuss was published in the Oct. 21 edition of the magazine. It revealed that an AN/FPS-17 radar developed and operated by General Electric near Samsun, Turkey – a resort on the Black Sea – “can detect and track missile firings into the main Russian missile test center at Krasnyy Yar on both the intermediate range extending to the southeast toward the Afghan border and the longer range track extending eastward on about a heading of 70 degrees to the Pacific Ocean in the area around Vladivostok in Siberia…The General Electric operated radar near Samsun has provided data on the type of Russian missiles being launched from the Krasnyy Yar test complex, their speed, altitude, track and approximate range. Data is automatically recorded and transmitted to the U.S., where data reduction is handled by the Lockheed Missile Systems Division and the Stanford Research Institute.”

Thi table attempts to correlate Soviet/Russian reporting of test activity at Kapustin Yar with Western intelligence reports of such activity. The key element is the KY [Kapustin Yar] designators. Western intelligence assigned alpha-numeric designators to Soviet missile systems, that took the form of two letters inidicating the launch site [eg, PL for Plesetsk, TT for Tyuratam, etc], followed by a number that indicated the sequence in which the system had been detected.

Easier said than done. If it were a fact, it wouldn't be intelligence. Some of the KY designators, indicated in bold such as KY-15 are well attested, such as in declassified intelligence documents. Others can be estimated based on being bracketed by well attested bookend designators.

  • Some tests were simply not detected by Western intelligence. Included in these were the early captured German rockets which were tested prior to the development of Western collection capabilities. Others, such sa the amazing La-350 Storm inter-continental cruise missile, are also absent from declassified Western intelligence estimates, and seem to have escaped Western curiosity.
  • The apparent failure to detect early Soviet solid propellant test programs [eg, TR-1, RT-1, RT-2, Gnome, etc] is particularlhy noteworthy.
  • It may be assumed, possibly incorrectly, that all variants of the same missile have the same KY designator, such as the Pioneer SS-20, even though tested over an extended period of time.
  • Programs retain their initial launch site designator even if they are subsequently tested at a another range [eg, the PL19 Nudol ASAT, seemingly tested at Kapustin Yar after have initially been identified at Plesetsk.
  • The well-attested association of the SS-21 Scarab with the KY-12 designator is obviously problematic, as it is out of sequence with the other KY programs, and

There is a striking gap between the reasonably well attested KY-19 association with the SS-23 Spider, and the assertion that the KY-30 designtor has been applied to the KRND Burevestnik atomic powered cruise missile.

19##V-1 / V-1##
1947##V-2 / V-2A-4##
1948KY-01?R-1, R-1A, R-1M 8A11, 8K11SS-1A Scunner
1950KY-02 ?R-2 8Zh38 SS-2Sibling
1953KY-02 ?R-5, R-5M 8A62, 8K51 SS-3 Shyster
1953KY-02 ?R-11, R-11M, R-11FM8K14 SS-1B Scud A
1959KY- ?R-13 (D-2) [none][none]
1959##...9K52, 9K53Luna, -M, -MW, -3FROG
1959KY-03R-17, R-17V 8K14, 9K72 Scud-B, -C, -E
1961KY- ?TR-19K71Temp[none][none]
1961KY-04?R-12, R-12U 8K63, 8K63U SS-4 Sandal
1962KY-05?R-14, R-14U 8K65, 8K65U SS-5 Skean
1962KY- ?RT-1 8K95[none]
1963KY- ?RT-2 8K98[none]
1965KY- ?...SM-SP21Gnome / Dwarf[none][none]
1966KY-07?RT-15 8K96 / SS-X-14 Scapegoat
1966KY- ?RT-25 8K97[none][none]
1970KY-09 SS-NX-13 erroneous
1974KY-10RSD-1015Zh45, 15Zh53 Pioneer,-UTH,-3 SS-20 Saber
1979KY-11TR-1M 9M76 SS-22 SCALEBOARD-B
1969KY-129K79 Point, Point-U SS-23SPIDER
1980KY-13 ?F-7503M-25 Meteorite (Thunder)
1984KY-14 Dead Hand ERCS
1984KY-1515P666 / 15Zh66Skorost "Speed"SS-20 shorter Follow-On
1988KY-19...9M714UOka-USS-23 Spider B
1991KY- ?... Iskander-ESS-26
1997KY- ?S-300 PMU-2 FavoritSA-20
1999KY- ?S-300 PMU-1 SA-20 Gargoyle
1999KY- ?S-400 Triumph
2005##9k58Smerch ##
2007KY-24 ?R-500Islander-K
2012KY-29 ?RS-26Rubezh / Avangard SS-31
2016PL-19RTC-181M 14TS033 Nudol ASAT, initially Plesetsk
Non-Missile Test Activities
19N/APKP shipboard control systemsBarrier-M,

## = probably not detected / counted by Western intelligence

Adapted from Rocket technology tested at the site of Kapustin Yar

  • See also designation-systems.net

  • New ICBM tested in Kapustin Yar

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    Page last modified: 13-11-2018 16:58:20 ZULU