On 01 April 2005 the Strategic Missile Force of Russia, acting on the defense minister's orders, started liquidating two divisions in Kartaly, the Chelyabinsk region, and Kostroma. The number of missile divisions will be slashed from 15 to 10 by 2010 and the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) on combat duty will fall from 496 to 313. The number of warheads on the ICBMs will be reduced from 1,770 to 923.
The main reason for the ICBM cuts is old age, as some of the missiles were produced in Ukraine in the Soviet era. The collapse of the Soviet Union put an end to their production and the missile group's renewal process. Those missiles produced in Russia are growing old too. According to Lieutenant General Vitaly Linnik, deputy commander of the Strategic Missile Force for armaments, "the removal of ICBMs whose service life has expired from combat duty is proceeding according to plan and will not affect the combat readiness of the Force."
By 31 July 2005 on 4 SS-18s remained on alert, and these were withdrawn by the end of the year.
By 1981 programs to upgrade the SS-18 missile system were underway at the six deployed SS-18 complexes to modify the 19 oldest SS-18 launch groups to accept the SS-18 MOD-4 (and probably any SS-18 payload deployed in the near future) and increase silo hardness. This program was underway in launch groups A at Dombarovskiy, Kartaly, and Uzhur SSM complexes, three of the 19 SS-18 launch groups completed before June 1978. Upgrading of the launch control facility (LCF) was an integral part of launch group modification. Launch group modification would be completed within eight to 12 months of silo unloading. The silo modification program was completed by late 1983.
The launch group modification program had begun by August 1980 with the construction of temporary support areas (TSAs) outside the launch sites and LCFs of launch groups A at Dombarovskiy, Kartaly, and Uzhur SSM Complexes. No TSAs had been constructed at Dombarovskiy ICBM Launch Sites 4A and 6A. The TSAs consisted of at least one large, single-story, wood-frame building similar to the temporary support buildings constructed during the IIIC (SS-9) to IIIF (SS-18) conversion program. The TSAs were almost complete at the three complexes by January 1981 and unloading began at Kartaly and Uzhur Launch Group A during late January and early February 1981. Silo unloading began at Dombarovskiy Launch Group A during mid-April 1981. Concurrent with unloading, empty three-car canister capsule (CAN/CAP) trains arrived at the complex rail-to-road transfer points (RTPs) to transport the unloaded missiles out of the complex for inspection and probable refurbishment.
Although an increase in SS-18 canisters had not been observed, the two facilities best suited to accomplish refurbishment were Bobrovskiy Missile Support Rear Depot (MSRD; and/or Dnepropetrovsk Missile Development and Production Complex (DMDPC). Alternatively, if these missiles were not refurbished, they may be used at Tyuratam Missile/Space Test Center for crew training and/or missile development launches. Bobrovskiy MSRD could also provide interim storage. At Kartaly ICBM RTPthereplacement modified launch control capsule with associated containers arrived at the same time as theempty CAN/CAP trains. Shortly after their arrival, the empty CAN/CAP trains were loaded with missile canisters from Launch Group A. Five SS-18 MOD-3 missiles were launched from Uzhur Launch Group A. Three SS-18 probable MOD-2 missiles were launched from Kartaly Launch Group A during April 1981.
After silo unloading, the first silo modification activity to occur is the excavation of the area around the silo door pocket and headworks. This is done to allow reconstruction of the upper silo facing, which serves as a retaining wall when upper silo components are removed. Gantry crane and concrete-block service apron construction usually began at this time. The first component to be removedfrom the silo is the SS-18 in-silo suspension/shock isolation systems. The suspension cage, acomponent of the suspension/shock isolation system, was probably dismantled onsite.
The IIIF silo door, door pocket, headworks, and headworks base were then removed from the silo and dismantled on the service apron. The replacement IIIF headwork sections were delivered to the launch site and assembled on the service apron. (At one site, the new headworks was being assembled on the service apron before the old headworks was removed). The launch site hardened antennas (dome and hook or plus antennas) were replaced by their newer counterparts, the modified hardened dome antenna and the hardened linear antenna. In addition, the passageway from the partially underground security/surveillance building to its entrance was excavated while silo modifications were underway. No discernible modifications had been made to the exposed passageway.
Launch Control Facility [LCF] Modifications were designed to technically upgrade facilities and improve survivability. LCF modifications includef the replacement of the launch control center (LCC) silo headworks; the probable addition of a second LCC silo headworks base; and the replacement of the silo door pocket, door, and LCC capsule. The original control support building was razed and a type III LCF control support building was constructed. The type III LCF control support building was centered on and perpendicular to the LCC silo. It was probable that the hardened dome and washer antennas at the LCF were modified or replaced. The underground passageway of the security/surveillance building at the LCF was also excavated.
Silo modification program support was observed in the complex support facilities of Dombarovskiy, Kartaly, and Uzhur SSM complexes. Support activity includes the arrival of empty CAN/CAP trains, replacement modified LCC capsules and associated containers, and replacement SS-18 MOD-4 missiles in the complex RTPs. New type IIIF and type IIIX LCC upper silo components arrived in the silo materials receiving areas and the number of cable spools significantly increased.
Nuclear-associated railcars arrived in the RTPs to deliver new MOD-4 warheads and probably transport warheads removed from Launch Group A missiles to national-level nuclear storage sites.
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