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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

51T6 Gorgon
Moscow System

The 51T6 [NATO reporting name GORGON] ABM interceptor missile, introduced in the mid 1980s, is the high-altitude exo-atmospheric component of the improved Moscow ABM system. It was deployed in silos at facilities surrounding Moscow. The 51T6 (A-925) Azov ABM (NATO reporting name: SH-11/ABM-4 GORGON) can hit targets outside the atmosphere. It was taken out of service between 2002 and 2003 owing to the expiry of its useful life. Its launch silos were then mothballed and may be used for new long-range ABMs.

The development of a two-stage long-range interceptor missile for the transatmospheric echelon A-925 / 51T6 (designation US / NATO - ABM-4 Gorgon / SH-11) was entrusted to the Fakel Design Bureau, the chief designer was P.D. Grushin.

In 1973 The first experimental prototype PR 5Y26 was created and put for testing. The first launches were carried out from an inclined launcher at an angle of 20° to the horizon - the very first throw launch took place on November 27, 1973 at the 35th site of Polygon A. Until the second launch inclusive, the rocket was not equipped with on-board equipment. Separation of the stage / warhead was not performed. From the third - the rocket had a full complement. Since 1978, from the 7th to the 11th launches, factory tests were carried out using the means of the first prototype of the system (Azov). Starting from the 12th launch in 1979, the means of the second prototype system were used (Amur-P). Tests of the PR as a whole took place with great difficulties associated with the characteristics of the rocket. Of the 15 subsequent launches in six, the missile was destroyed and until the 17th launch it was not possible to provide reliable radio communication with the aircraft.

The fact is that the rocket designers, taking care of strength and aerodynamics, assigned the bottom part of the rocket launching stage for installation of onboard antennas. As tests had shown, in flight, these antennas were completely shielded by the plasma generated during high-speed flight in the atmosphere. After a detailed analysis, the rocket designers had to install antennas on the rocket body in front of the nozzles of the gas-jet control system. Moreover, an original antenna switching system was developed depending on the position of the missile axis relative to the radio equipment of the complex. However, despite the difficulties, starting from the 17th launch, it was possible to obtain stable communication through the control channel, and from the 20th, through the sighting channel.

In August 1979, the PR 53T6 was launched for the first time from a silo. PR flew out of the mine and after about 5 seconds. self-exploded. In this test, a defect was discovered in the design of the mine gas reflector: there were holes in it and, at the start of the PR, a pressure of 15 atm was created under it. and it worked like a piston, flying out of the shaft to a distance of about 20 m, crushing TPK and tearing out guides with a support ring (with a total weight of about 7 tons). It was also stated that the poor quality of welds led to the separation of metal structures. Later, the thickness of the metal cup of the mine was increased from 7 mm to 32 mm, turning it into a power structure. The first missile launch in a closed control loop was performed in July 1981.

In April 1982, a successful interception of a real ballistic target, the 8K65 BRDS, was carried out. The discrepancy with the target at a firing range of 40 km was about 50 meters, which is quite enough to hit the target. One of the system’s tests took place on June 18, 1982 as part of the largest exercises of the USSR Armed Forces (called in the West “a seven-hour nuclear war”). Two PR systems 5ZH60P launched from firing range "A" intercepted the 15J45 BRDS "Pioneer" launched from the Kapustin Yar firing range and the R-29 SLBM from the 667B Murena project of the Northern Fleet.

In March 1984, according to a number of data, the State tests of the 53T6 rocket itself were completed. Serial production of PR 53T6 at plant number 8 (Plant named after MI Kalinin, Sverdlovsk (Yekaterinburg), now part of the Almaz-Antey NPO) and the launch of missiles at the launch positions of the A-135 missile defense system began in 1989 and in 1990, respectively, and the A-135 missile system was completed in 1992.

In 1989-1990, at the Amur-P training complex, experimental work was carried out to expand the capabilities of the A-135 system in terms of lowering the lower and increasing the far borders of the target destruction zone using the 53T6 missile, increasing the maneuverability of this anti-missile, and equipping it with a new non-nuclear warhead under the program " Aircraft-M ”(5 launches 53T6 were carried out). Over the entire period of its operation (withdrawn from service in 1990), the Amur-P complex carried out 19 51T6 missile launches, 37 53T6 missile launches, 28 postings of custom-made ballistic targets and 1900 simulation cycles.

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. The interceptor used a thermonuclear warhead with a power of up to 1 Mt, which makes it possible to use this PR for firing at a "cloud" consisting of true and false targets and debris of the last stage of an attacking BR, in the case when the radar cannot distinguish true targets from it. In the explosion of warheads inside the cloud, either the defeat of the true target or a decrease in the number of objects forming the cloud is expected. The charge was developed in Chelyabinsk-70. An explosion of a charge of such power could ensure the destruction of a warhead BR, which does not have special protection from soft x-rays, in a radius of about 2 km from the site of the explosion. Soft X-rays hit the warheard in that part of it that faces the explosion. The rays hit (warm and vaporize) the outer heat-protective layers of the body. Having entered the atmosphere, such a warhaed can be destroyed by excessive heat loads during aerodynamic heating. According to some calculations, the neutron flux in a high-altitude nuclear explosion can provide for the destruction of the nuclear warhead at a distance of about 2 km from the center of the explosion.


Russian missile designation: 51T6
Russian system designation: A-135
DIA temporary code: SH-11
DIA code: ABM-4
NATO reporting name: Gorgon
Designer: Grushin OKB (OKB-2, now MKB Fakel)
Manufacturer: Kisunko SKB (SKB-30, now NIIRP)
Development year: ?
Deployment year: 1983/84
First seen in public: ?
Retirement year:
Type: Exo-atmospheric (upper-tier) interceptor
Guidance: Radar command
Propulsion: Three liquid-fueled stages
Range: 350 km. (320 km.)
Warhead: Nuclear (1 Mt)

PR 51T6 firing system locations

to Moscow)
Name Coordinates
51T6 Gorgon SH-11 51T6 Gorgon SH-11

51T6 Gorgon SH-11 51T6 Gorgon SH-11 51T6 Gorgon SH-11 51T6 Gorgon SH-11 51T6 Gorgon SH-11 51T6 Gorgon SH-11 51T6 Gorgon SH-11 51T6 Gorgon SH-11

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Page last modified: 25-08-2021 17:17:35 ZULU