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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


R-12 / SS-4 SANDAL

The R-12 was the first Soviet strategic missile using storable propellants and a completely autonomous inertial guidance system. The rocket provided a capability to attack strategic targets at medium ranges with its capability to deliver a megaton-class nuclear warhead. This system constituted the bulk of the Soviet offensive missile threat to Western Europe. It was deployed at both soft launch pads and hard silos.

The Sandal is a single-stage rocket with a separable single reentry vehicle. In the integrated fuel tanks the oxidizer was put ahead of the fuel tank, separated by an intermediate plate. During flight this allowed the oxidizer from the lower unit to be spent first thus improving in-flight stabilization. The propulsion system consists of four liquid propellant rocket motors with a common turbo pump unit. The flight control was carried out with the help of four carbon jet vanes, located in the nozzles of the rocket motors. The autonomous guidance and control system used center of mass normal and lateral stabilization devices, a velocity control system and a computer-assisted automatic range control system.

In the early 1950s the idea of using high-boiling point propellants and an autonomous control system emerged, as did ardent supporters and irreconcilable opponents. A real war of wits, ranks and ambitions began. The Dnieper serial missile plant added fuel to the fire: a group of designers led by Vasily Budnik initiated the design of a rocket for high-boiling components of fuel. Yangel supported the innovators, put a lot of effort into approving a new direction. When forming the plans of the central institute, its experimental base, the chief engineer took into account the future needs of the prospective business and thereby laid a solid foundation for his rapid development.

New ideas received "the highest blessing": a special design bureau (OKB-586) was created in April 1954 on the basis of the Dnieper serial missile plant by a special government decree. Mikhail Yangel became the chief designer and chief of the design bureau, Vasily Budnik was the first deputy.

Arriving in Dnepropetrovsk and getting acquainted with the situation at the plant and in the design department, Yangel came to a non-comforting conclusion. The plant had a cruel plan for the Korolev's rockets, and no one was going to cut it. Moreover, preparations for the development of the Korolev's R-5M rocket had begun. In the long term, this meant that the plant would be loaded even more, since the R-5M was much more difficult to produce than its predecessors. There were few specialists, they were barely enough to serve mass production. In such conditions, when the main task of a small collective was considered the organization of mass production, when many specialists and scientists openly voiced distrust of new ideas, when the plant was just gaining experience, and its leaders believed little in the ability of the newborn OKB to compete with the powerful firm Korolev, the creation of new rockets seemed fantastic. Experienced ledes of the military-industrial complex demanded from the young OKB in parallel with the development of missiles of a new direction to ensure the serial production of Korolev's missiles without interruption.

Fresh look and engineering flair helped the Chief Designer to quickly evaluate the project of the OKB first-born - the R-12 rocket, carried out by a group of Dnipro engineers. The project had a lot of original ideas and technical solutions, but the main performance parameters of the R-12 - with storable propellants - repeated Korolev's R-5M, with cryogenic propellants. There was a doubt: is such a duplicating rocket necessary, even on a new basis? The Chief Designer made a decision - to significantly refine the project, increasing the range of the missile and its combat equipment.

Its development was accepted on 13 August 1955 by the Ministerial Council and carried out by Yangel's OKB-586. The launch of the R-12 missile was scheduled for June 22, 1957. Korolyov could not stand it and flew to Kapustin Yar. Seeing the Dnieper missile at the start, I was surprised: "What kind of pencil is it? It will break before it can take off ..." Indeed, the R-12 rocket resembled a thin, long sharp pen: at a height of more than twenty meters its diameter was a little more one and a half meters.

The R-12 rocket was launched from the first launch. The successful launch of the first rocket strengthened the positions of proponents of creating missiles on high-boiling components of fuel with an autonomous control system. But the skeptics did not hurry with the recognition: "The first launch is not yet a start-up." Let's see what happens next. " And then there was the second, the third ... The machine flew practically without comment.

For the team of the Design Bureau and the plant, this success turned in the most unexpected way: Nikita Khrushchev arrived in Dnepropetrovsk. He decided to get acquainted personally with Dnieper rocket engineers. Inspection of the assembly plants of the plant, acquaintance with the new projects, Nikita Sergeyevich was clearly pleased, generously presented the awards to the distinguished ... Soon Khrushchev made a sensational statement for the whole world: "We have manufactured missiles on a conveyor belt." Recently I was at one plant and saw how there rockets come out like sausages from machines.

The first tests were conducted at the test site in Kapustin Yar from 22 June 1957 through December 1958. The R-12 missile was introduced into the inventory on 04 March 1959 according to Russian sources, though Western intelligence believed that an initial operational capability was reached in late 1958.

Efforts to develop a railway based version of the R-12 missile were suspended.

R-12U Dvina - Soviet cross sectionThe R-12 missile was surface-launched. However in September 1959 a series of experimental silo launches was conducted and subsequently in May 1960 the development of a new R-12 missile designated as R-12 U was begun. The R-12U was designed to be used with both soft surface launchers and hardened silos. The silo-launch complex of the R-12U missile comprised four launchers and was designated as "Dvina." The testing phase of the missile and the launch complex lasted from December 1961 through December, 1963.

The first public display of this system was in November 1960, and they were deployed to Cuba in the Fall of 1962.

The first five regiments with surface-based R-12 missiles were put on alert in May 1960, while the first regiment of silo-based missiles was placed on alert in January 1963. Reaction time was assessed by the West at one to three hours in the normal soft site readiness condition, and five to fifteen minutes in the normal hard site readiness condition. The allowable hold time in a highly alert condition (reaction time equals three to five minutes) is long--many hours for soft sites, and days for hard sites.

The R-12 and R-12U missiles reached their maximum operational launcher inventory of 608 in 1964-1966. Some soft-site phase-out began in 1968, with some hard-site phase-out beginning in 1972. In 1978 their phase out and replacement with mobile ground-launched SS-20 "Pioneer" missiles began.

The Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Nuclear Forces [INF] Treaty was signed in of December 1987 and entered into force in June 1988. The fundamental purpose of the INF Treaty was to eliminate and ban US and former USSR (FSU) ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles, as well as associated support equipment, with ranges between 500 and 5500 kilometers. SS-4 and SS-5 missiles and components were eliminated at Lesnaya. The last of 149 Soviet SS-4 missiles was eliminated at the Lesnaya Missile Elimination Facility in May 1990.




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