R-31 / RSM-45 SS-N-17 SNIPE
The R-31 missile, the first deployed Soviet sea-based solid-fuel missile, was a two-stage missile with a single warhead. Compared to the liquid-propelled R-29 missile the R-31 was easier to handle and had increased range. However, despite the similar launch weight, the R-31 had a lower accuracy and half the range of R-29 missile.
In the early 1970s the Soviet Navy ordered the development of new missiles and a new launch system intended to replace the D-5 launch system on Yankee I submarines that were to be overhauled and upgraded. Two different proposals were submitted by NII Mashinostroyeniya (chief designer V. P. Makyeyev) and KB Arsenal (chief designer P.A. Tyurin), and the project was awarded to KB Arsenal.
Unlike the liquid-propellant missiles R-21, R-27 and R-29, the underwater firing of the R-31 did not require filling the launch tube with water. The missile was ejected from the hermetically sealed tube by a gas generator. The missile emerged in a gas bubble, which was maintained with the help of a special hydrodynamic device located on the nose cone. The sustainer motor of the first stage was started after the missile emerged from the water. The dry start allowed to reduce pre-launch preparation time substantially and decreased the noise during launch preparation.
Flight tests of the R-31 missile from a ground platform took place in 1973. The first underwater launch was held on December 26, 1976 in the White Sea. Flight tests were completed in 1979 and in 1980 the Yankee II submarine "K-140" was outfitted with R-31 missiles. Deployment was limited to a single Yankee II submarine "K-140". In 1989 the R-31 missiles were withdrawn from service.
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