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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

53T6 SH-08 Gazelle
Moscow System

Since 2006, the missile defense system of the city of Moscow and the central industrial region of the Russian Federation includes only one echelon of missiles - these are the 53T6 short-range interceptor missiles, better known in the West as the ABM-3 Gazelle. From the beginning of the 1990s to 2006, the Moscow missile defense system consisted of two echelons - far out-of-atmosphere and near-atmospheric. The long-range eschelon with 51T6 missiles (ABM-4 Gorgon) was to destroy warheads attacking Moscow approximately 500 kilometers from the capital. It was assumed that this barrier would be able to overcome only a certain percentage of enemy warheads, which, in turn, should be "finished" closer to the level of the anti-missile defense system - 53T6 missiles, destroying targets at an altitude of 5 to 30 kilometers and a maximum distance of 100 kilometers from the starting positions.

The 53T6 (PRS-1) short-range ABM (NATO reporting name: SH-08/ABM-3A GAZELLE) is still in service. The 53T6 [NATO reporting name GAZELLE] is a short-range ABM interceptor missile, which was first introduced in the mid-1980s, was designed to intercept ballistic missile reentry vehicles inside the atmosphere. The missile, which has not been displayed in public, is thought to be similar in design and mission to the US Sprint interceptor that was part of the Sentinel/Safeguard system. On 02 November 1999 Russia tested this short-range interceptor rocket for the Moscow anti-ballistic missile system, in what appeared to be a symbolic warning to the United States not to go ahead with an expanded ABM system.

This endo-atmospheric high-speed anti-missile was the second echelon of the A-135. The development of the missile was OKB "Novator" under the direction of Lev Ljul'eva (later the main constructor Pavel Kamnev) since 1967 for the system of the PROS 225. After the ABM Treaty was concluded in 1972, the system was redesigned ITC Central Scientific Industrial Association "Vympel" (the main constructor of the bassist). The ABM system replaced the S-225 in the middle Echelon with missiles of the 5JA26 system S-225. Accordingly, the 5JA26 rocket was introduced into the "Amur" fire complex of the A-135. At the end of 1973, the project for A-135 missile with the PRS-1 / 53T6 (the new 5JA26 Index) was approved by the USSR MOD customer.

The control of the missile at the initial stage of the flight is gas by injection into the main engine of combustion products from the solid chamber. At the final stage of the flight, gas with using impulse microengines directed perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the rocket (probably located in the area of the center of mass of the detachable part of the missile).

53T6 missile defense is a step with a start-marching solid propellant rocket motor, an inseparable compartment with a micro-solid propellant rocket motor and a detachable uncontrolled warhead containing a special warhead and control system. Case type - bearing pointed cone without protruding elements. According to some reports, the PR case is made of composite materials by winding with the use of titanium alloys and high-strength steels in certain places; the tip of the rocket’s head is quartz ceramic. Almost the entire missile body is covered with a special multifunctional light heat-protective coating that protects the anti-missile from the action of hot gases at launch and from aerodynamic heating. The on-board cable network of the anti-missile system is wound into the housing.

The 5S73 launch and marching engine of the 53T6 rocket was developed by OKB-16 (Kazan Design Bureau of Engine Building, later - Soyuz Design Bureau); chief designer P.F.Zubets, leading designer - I.Kh. Fakhrutdinov. The terms of reference for the creation of an engine for the 53T6 / PRS-1 rocket were received in 1969 (according to other sources - 1970). According to some reports, the engine is divided into starting and marching parts, with strongly bonded, specific channel-slotted charges of solid mixed high-energy fuels of various compositions with a high specific impulse. The engine nozzle is central, fixed, recessed. Rocket launch - gas-dynamic from a transport and launch container on its own engine using guides on the inner surface of the TPK.

The rocket control at the initial stage of flight is gas-dynamic by injection into the supercritical part of the nozzle of the start-mid-flight engine of combustion products from the solid propellant rocket chamber (according to unconfirmed reports, the thrust vector in the operation section of the start-mid-flight engine is controlled by injecting liquid freon into the supercritical part of the nozzle). Correction of the flight path of the rocket, including at the final stage of flight in front of the MS unit, is gas-dynamic using pulsed gas-jet solid propellant micromotors directed perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the rocket.

The radio command missile control system includes a defendant (responsible designers - V.I. Tolstikov and V.I. Dolgikh) and autopilot 5A13 (responsible designer P.M. Kirillov) developed by TsKB "Almaz" with float sensitive elements . When creating the control system, unique technologies were applied that allowed the rocket to reliably perform tasks at overloads over 100 g. The electronic components used in the rocket had a special shockproof “fill” system in combination with increased resistance to PFYAV. At the stage of prototype throw tests, a software device (“programmer”) developed by the Novator Design Bureau was installed on a rocket; In conjunction with the inclined PU, the programmer replaced the autopilot. Since issuing the command " guidance commands and other commands are transmitted over the channel of the command transmission station (SEC). The antennas of the receiver of commands and the responder are arranged in pairs of 2 pieces. on the rocket body.

Prior to 1978, the 5Y26 missile was established and, since 1973, tested as part of the experimental complex of S-225. The first launch of the missile as part of the tests for the "Azov" complex of the S-225 was carried out at Site No. 35 ("Ethylene", (c/h 03145) 10th State Scientific Research ground in Sara-Step on 27 November 1973. Factory tests of a missile on the "Azov" complex of the S-225 system began in 1978. In July 1979, the "Amur-e" complex of the "A-135" was the first launch of the near-interception of the SDA-1/53T6 (SH-08) missile. On June 18, 1982, two anti-missile missiles of the 53Zh60P "Amur-e" were intercepting ballistic missiles RCD-10/SS-20 (launched from the Kapustin Yar polygon) and SLBM R-29 (launched from the SSBN Northern Fleet). The experimental work and tests continued in 1983-1987 the state tests of the 53T6 anti-missile missile were completed in March 1984.

By January 1978 US intelligence had identified two new, high-performance, probable conical missiles under development at Soviet defensive missile test centers may be using unusual, new rocket motors (shaped like the frustum of a cone) identified at two Soviet rocket motor research, development, and production facilities. The rocket motor, identified at Kazan Missile Propulsion R&D Facility and at Perm Solid Motor Production Plant may be the booster motor for a high-acceleration, endo-atmospheric anti-ballistic missile (ABM) in development at Sary-Shagan Missile Test Center. And a rocket motor-identified at the same Soviet rocket motor research, development, and production facilities, may be either the booster motor for a new high-performance, probable anti-tactical ballistic missile (ATBM) in development at Emba Missile Test Center.

A program to develop a high-acceleration, endo-atmospheric ABM was underway at Sary-Shagan Missile Test Center. A similar program, to develop a high-acceleration ATBM, maybe underway at Emba Missile Test Center. Evidence indicated that both the Sary-Shagan and Emba programs involved conical missiles. A cone shape is particularly desirable for the design of high-acceleration vehicles. The most efficient way to power a high-performance conical missile is to fit the missile with solid propellant rocket motors that conform to the shape of the airframe.

Kazan Missile Propulsion R&D Facility and Perm Solid Motor Production Plant had been involved in the production and testing of rocket motors shaped like the frustum of a cone since at least 1975. Two different sizes of "conical" rocket motors had been identified at these facilities. Because of the poor interpretability and infrequency of imagery during the early 1970s, the beginning of the "conical”rocket motor programs at Kazan cannot be accurately dated. Although the first "conical” motors were not identified at Kazan until May 1975, they could have been present at the facility two or three years before.

The propellant(s) for both sizes of "conical” motors was probably produced at Perm Solid Motor Production Plant or Perm Munitions and Chemical Combine K. Kirov 980. These plants produce double-base, composite, and composite modified double-base propellants. But, as neither of the two rocket motors had been observed in the propellant production areas of the two plants, there is no indication of the propellant composition of these motors. Those "conical” rocket motors tested at Kazan Missile Propulsion R&D Facility were probably also produced at Perm, as there is no known solid propellant production capability at Kazan.

At Sary-Shagan Missile Test Center, a new conical ABM was identified at Launch Complex F. This is the only time that the missile has been observed on KEYHOLE imagery, The missile is conical for at least the forward two-thirds of its length. Precise dimensions were impossible to obtain, but its length was estimated to be between 12 and 13 meters. The maximum (base) diameter of the missile could not be directly observed. There was no evidence that the conical missile was ever launched from its rail launcher at launch site 5. The launcher was modified in 1974 by the substitution of an open-lattice-type launch mechanism in place of the launch rail. A new launch position, similar to the site 5 position, was subsequently constructed at launch site 3. But instead of a launch rail or lattice-type mechanism, the new launcher had a launch tube.

To Western intelligenc at the time, the best match between motor and missile seemed to be between the motor and the first stage of the Emba missile, the 9M83 SA-10 GIANT. The size and shape of the missile's first stage (as estimated from mensuration of both the missile and the expended probable first stages) are compatible with the size and shape of the motor. A second possibility for the motor may fit the second stage of the Sary-Shagan missile, the 53T6 SH-08 GAZELLE.

Factory tests of the complex A-135 with first stage equipment commenced in November 1982 and completed in March 1984 (including 5 launches of the 53T6, including 4 in the closed loop of the control). In 1984 the Missile-1/53T6 was introduced into the A-135 ABM system. Since the mid-1980s (according to western data), 53T6 rockets had begun to replace the ABM-1 system of Moscow.

The tests of A-135 "Amur-E" with second stage equipment were carried out from March to October 1987 (including 5 launches of 53T6). After some refinement of the system, another phase of test testing of the polygonal specimen-January-July 1988 (including 3 launches of 53T6) was performed.

State testing of 53T6 serial missiles from the Amur-E complex as part of the tests of the Moscow system A-135 began in 1989 (4 launches 53T6). During the tests of the ABM system, considerable attention was paid to the evaluation of performance, design and some reliability characteristics, the assessment of jamming (a special static complex was used). Transport and resource tests of missiles, transport and installation machines have been carried out, and the impact of rocket launchers on the starting position and their reciprocal effects on launches at intervals of 1 second have been investigated. Two 53T6 missiles were tested in a horizontal position for a period of ten years.

Serial production at Plant No. 8 (Kalinin, D. Yekaterinburg, a member of the Diamond-Antei NPO and the launching of rockets into the starting position of the ABM system of A-135 commenced in 1990. System A-135 missiles were completed in 1992 and on 17 February 1995, the A-135 system was adopted for the armed Forces of the Russian Federation.

In the early 1990s, the Amur-E complex carried out experimental work to enhance the capabilities of the A-135 in reducing the lower and upper limits of the 53T6 zone, increasing manoeuvrability, and equipping the new (nonnuclear? warhead) (5 launches of 53T6) by Plane-M combat component.

The A-135 Moscow missile defense system was originally adopted by the Russian Armed Forces as part of two PR 51T6 positions for 16 launchers (32 missiles; Naro-Fominsk and Sergiev Posad, Moscow Region) and five PR 53T6 missiles for 12 or 16 launchers ( 68 missiles; the cities of Lytkarino and Skhodnya (16 launchers each), Korolev, Vnukovo and Sofrino (12 launchers each)). The system was put on combat duty on December 1, 1995. On December 20, 2011 The first test of the 53T6 rocket with the newly produced engine was carried out. The launch was performed at the Saryshagan polygon by a somewhat revamped Strel'bovym complex with an improved computing center.

Some accounts claimed the 51T6 high altitude interceptors had been removed from active service, and if one or several missiles have been launched as a provocation, to intercept any warheads with unknown fuses or even the ones having no fuses the remaining 53T6 with nuclear warheads would create multiple nuclear explosions over the Russian territory which has long been unacceptable.

Russia's military has successfully launched a short-range interceptor missile, capable of delivering a nuclear warhead in a ballistic flight trajectory, to boost the country's defensive network, the Defense Ministry said 16 June 2017. The Russian Strategic Missile Troops and Aerospace Forces (VKS) jointly carried out the launch of a 53T6 (SH-08 Gazelle) endoatmospheric interceptor missile at the Sary Shagan test range in Kazakhstan, said Col. Andrey Prikhodko, a VKS deputy commander.

"During the test, the anti-ballistic missile (ABM) successfully accomplished its task and destroyed the designated target," he said, referring to the country's A-135 ABM system, which has been designed to protect the capital Moscow and its surroundings from a possible nuclear missile strike.

The A-135 ABM system includes phased-array radars, a command center and launchers, which fire two types of interceptor missiles, the long-range 51T6 and the short-range 53T6, both designed to be tipped with nuclear warheads to eliminate any incoming nuclear warheads with a nuclear blast in the air.

The 10-meter-long 53T6 missile is reportedly capable of carrying a 10-kiloton nuclear warhead to a range of 80 kilometers at a speed of three kilometers per second. The defensive system, operational since 1995, reportedly used 68 launchers for 53T6 interceptors at five launch sites with 12 or 16 missiles each. It also initially employed 16 launchers for 51T6 interceptors at two launch sites with eight missiles each.

The Russian military tests interceptor ballistic missiles roughly annually to confirm their combat readiness. A video of the launch was released by the Russian Defense Ministry 16 June 2017. The short-range missile launched did not deliver a nuclear warhead. Russia says the A-135 ABM defensive system is compliant with the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, from which the United States unilaterally pulled out in 2002.


Replacing the 53T6 with the new 53T6M in the Moscow A-135 / A-235 anti-missile defense system will extend the lifetime of the modernized defense system by at least 20-25 years and will be the only anti-missile missile of the modernized system so far. It should be understood that anti-missile combat is extremely fast - the warhead flies at a speed of about 5-7 kilometers per second, and the 100 kilometers that make up the missile defense zone flies in 20 seconds.

The 53T6 is a unique missile. Its engine uses a special solid fuel that provides a maximum speed of at least 3 kilometers per second. Missiles of this type were previously equipped with low-efficiency nuclear warheads, as it was believed that only a nuclear explosion could guarantee the destruction of the attacking warhead. In 2000, work began on the modernization of the 53T6 rocket, during which it was planned to make the rocket more accurate and non-nuclear, and to restore its production taking into account the modern technological capabilities of the industry. At around the beginning of 2010, rocket launches began at the Sary-Szagan test site, on which various components of the future modernized 53T6M missile are tested. Most likely, on April 26, we were shown this particular rocket.

Work is underway not only to preserve, but also to further improve the combat capabilities of the A-135 missile defense system. This activity is carried out in a number of areas: for example, one of the most important is the maximum use of the modernization potential of the 53T6 missile defense - at one time, A.G. General Designer of the ABM A-135 system said about this. Bassists at the end of State tests: “The system showed significant reserves in all respects. Lyulyev’s 53T6 high-speed missiles can defeat ballistic targets at ranges of 2.5 times greater and at heights of 3 times greater than we have now certified them. The system is ready to fulfill the tasks of defeating low-orbit satellites, and other combat missions."

On April 2, 2018, the Russian military successfully tested the 53T6M missile of the A-135 anti-missile system at the Sary-Shagan range, designed to protect Moscow from aerospace attack and warning of missile attack and control of outer space.

On April 26, 2021, another test launch of a new missile from the Russian anti-missile defense system was successfully completed at the Sary-Shagan training ground in Kazakhstan . The combat crews successfully completed the task, hitting the target with the specified accuracy. It may sound formal and dull, but it's actually a major novelty. In the fall of 2020, the media reported that, from 2021, new missiles will be included in the combat missile defense system located near Moscow, and thus the modernization program of the 1990s A-135 "Amur" anti-missile system to the maximum modern level will be completed and the A-235 system will be created.

Future missiles should be homing, non-nuclear, and possibly even multiple warheads, each with its own guidance system and propulsion. And then the probability of hitting maneuvering targets will increase to an acceptable level, and the defense will become more effective. It is currently one of the main directions of development of anti-missile defense systems.

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Page last modified: 25-08-2021 17:17:11 ZULU