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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


R-27 / SS-N-6 SERB - Program

The D-5 complex was entered into operation by the Navy in 1958, and D-5U in 1974. The R-27 missile was developed at the V. Makeev Design Bureau in accordance with the Government Decree of April 24, 1962. The development of Soviet science and technology in the field of materials science, metallurgy, and electronics in this period created favorable prerequisites for the development of new missiles with improved characteristics.

The D-5 launch system with R-27 missiles was derived from with studies by SKB-385 in the early 1960s to develop a ballistic missile capable of attacking sea-based targets. Development work resulted from a proposal by SKB-385 in late 1961 for the development of a launch system with a light single-stage missile for strikes against strategic land targets. The Yankee I submarines were the designated carrier. On 24 April 1962 the project was officially authorized.

Testing of the D-5 launch system took place in three phases. During the first phase 12 pop-up tests were conducted from a flooded platform and a converted 613 submarine. Data from these tests was used to perfect underwater launch, rocket engine and launch tube designs. The second phase from June 1966 through April 1967 consisted of 12 successful launches (out of 17) from a ground platform. The test phases concluded with 6 missile firings from 667 submarines of the Northern fleet. Deployment began on 13 March 1968.

In June 1971 it was decided to upgrade the D-5 launch system and the R-27 missiles. The modernized missile, with a more powerful engine and improved guidance system, was designated as R-27U and the launching system received the designation D-5U. The enhanced D-5U/R-27U system was derived from its predecessor, designated D-5/R-27. Unlike D-5 it was equipped with two types of warheads: single and multiple (cluster) with 3 re-entry vehicles (RV). The range of a single-RV missile was increased to 3000 km and that of a multiple-RV missile remained as 2500 km. The firing accuracy was improved by 15 percent. The missile engines and control system were also upgraded. The R-27U was designed to carry both single and multiple warheads. The upgraded missile was supposed to have the same maximum range as the original R-27, though equipped with three multiple reentry vehicles. The range and accuracy of the single warhead version of the R-27U was supposed to increase in 20 and 15 percent respectively.

Between September 1972 and August 1973 a total of 16 R-27U missiles were successfully launched from a submarine. On 04 January 1971 deployment of the D-5U launch system began. Yankee II and upgraded Yankee I submarines were outfitted with the new system and missiles.

At the end of 1973, flight tests were completed, and in January 1974 an advanced R-27U missile equipped with a single-piece warhead (with a range of 3,000 km) or a divisional warhead with three 200 kt each of the dispersed-type combat units was adopted. The accuracy of the fire increased by 15%. The rocket was equipped with a modernized rocket engine with increased energy characteristics. However, by this time, missiles with such characteristics could not be considered modern and inferior to almost all of the most important combat characteristics of the American SLBMs. The R-27U missile and D-5U launch system remained in service through 1990. Over the life of the program the service life of the missile was increased from five years to thirteen years.

Between 1968 and 1988 the D-5 launch system conducted 492 missile firings, of which 429 were successful. The D-5 launch system conducted more launches than any other Soviet launch system: a peak of 58 launches in 1971 and an average of 23.4 launches per year. During the service life of the D-5U launch system 150 out of 161 missile firings were successful. Missile firings for military purposes were completed in 1988. Subsequently experimental launches were conducted for microgravity research purposes.

The D-5 and D-5U missile systems were installed on strategic missile submarines of Project 667A Navaga. The last missile carriers of the Navag type were in the combat fleet until 1993. For their armament, more than 1,800 SLBM R-27s were produced. During the period of active operation, 161 combat training exercises were conducted. 150 of them were recognized as successful (93.2%).




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