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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

RT-2 / KY-6 SS-13 SAVAGE

There were proposals for mobile missiles from both Chelomei and Yangel, but Nadiradze had an integrated approach, which many in the military did not have. The task of developing a solid-fuel missile with a range of 10,000 -12,000 kilometers was approved by the ministerial Council in November 1959. The Korolev led OKB-1 was in charge of carrying out the design.

The development this solid fuel missile was to be conducted in two separate phases. The first phase provided for the development of a missile, designated as RT-1, with a range of 2500-3000 km using solid fuel. The RT-1 missile was subsequently developed and underwent flight test but was not deployed. It was hampered by a launch weight of 35.5 T and a payload of 800 kg with a very limited range of only 2,000 km, the same as the R-12. By 1963, the preliminary design of the RT-2 missile had been completed.

The 49th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution was approaching in late 1966. Everyone was preparing gifts to be presented on behalf of their workplaces. Giving “gifts” to the Party and government during major holidays was a customary practice during the Soviet era. Typically, organizations prepared major events or produced notable successes to coincide with the holidays. It was the duty to begin flight tests on the RT-2 before the anniversary.

Flight tests were conducted in two phases from February 1966 through November 1968. The first launches of previously developed intercontinental missiles usually proceeded in keeping with the notorious “first-pancake-is-always-lumpy” principle. The first 8K98 launch from a silo launcher at the Plesetsk firing range on 4 November 1966 was a success. True, the payload overshot the CEP boundaries declared for the Minuteman missiles. But no one attached particular significance to that. The chairman of the State Commission for the tests that had begun was Major General Anatoliy Vasilyev, former deputy of Voznyuk, who had headed the A. F. Mozhayskiy Military Engineering Academy.

The subsequent two launches in December 1966 were unsuccessful. After two failures, some were inclined to curtail the launches and shift over to the long process of testing and verifying the engines and control system on the ground. A total of seven successful launches were carried out in the first phase of tests conducted during the first 6 months of testing in Kapustin Yar.

Missiles were launched from adapted silos and the nose cones were successfully deployed. The second phase of testing took place at the Plesetsk test sight between October and November 1966. During this phase a total of 16 successful missile firings out of a total of 25 launches took place. 21 of these tests were at an intermediate range with the nose cone falling on the training site in Kamchatka. The other four were tested at maximum range with the nose cone falling into the Pacific Ocean.

The RT-2 was a three-stage missile with sequentially arranged stages equipped to carry a single reentry vehicle. According to Western estimates, the missile was capable of delivering a 1200 lb reentry vehicle to a maximum operational range of ~10,000 km and a CEP in the range of 0.7 to 1.0 nm. The three sustainer stages use solid-propellant motors connected by trellised trusses. Four trellised aerodynamic stabilizers were used to stabilize the missile during the active trajectory leg. Four split nozzles were used for flight. With a 500 kg nose cone of it had a maximum range of 10,000-12,000 km. Maximum range was decreased to 4,000-5,000 km when employing a heavier 1,400 kg nose cone. The guidance/control system incorporated both a gyro-stabilized platform with floating gyros as well as pendulous accelerometers.

There are three identified SS-13 variants. Variant 1 had a ballistic coefficient of approximately 300 lb per sq ft and a CEP believed to be 1.0 nm. The Variant 2 had a ballistic coefficient of approximately 730 lb per sq ft with a CEP assessed of about 0.7 nm. Both were believed to have a yield in the range 0.6 to 1.5 MT.

The system was deployed in hardened, dispersed, and unmanned silos. Silo and launch control hardness was estimated by Western sources at 1300 psi overpressure. Because of the heavy weight of the missile it had to be assembled directly in the silo. All the stages were separated and individually delivered to the silo for final assembly. The silo door was sealed and special climate conditions were created inside the silo to ensure an extended storage of the solid-propellant. The missile launch utilized a newly developed launch technique that became known as "mortar launch". With the tail unit of the missile protected in an isolated shroud, water was poured into the bottom of the launch canister. During the ignition of the first sustainer stage the water was rapidly heated creating steam. The steam formed underneath the missile, popping it out of the silo. The readiness for missile firing was 3-5 minutes.

A railway based version of the RT-2 missile was considered but never advanced beyond the preliminary design phase.

Deployment of the RT-2 missile began on 18 December 1968. During 1968, 8K98 missiles were put into service and began to be installed in silos on Russian territory. A missile division comprising six regiments was armed with RT-2 missiles standing on alert. In terms of firing power, a single missile division surpassed many times over that of all the divisions of the warring nations of World War II combined.

Maximum deployment was reached in 1972 with deployment organized in the area of Yoshkar Ola. Despite the hardness of the silos and the relative simplicity of operation, the operational capabilities of the RT-2 were limited due to its small throw-weight and the short operational lifetime of that generation of solid-propellant motors. These characteristics contributed to the relative limited the deployment of only 60 RT-2 missiles.

In 1968, development of a modernized version of the RT-2 was undertaken. This new version was outfitted with a sophisticated control system and countermeasures for overcoming an ABM system. The missile received the designation RT-2P. The flight tests RT-2P were conducted from December 1969 through January 1972. From January 1970 through late 1972, the first production runs of the 8K98 were replaced with the updated RT-2P (8K98P). TsKB-7 performed a considerable amount of the work to update the RT-2 independently. The updated missiles had a launch mass of 51 metric tons. The new inertial control system developed at Pilyugin’s NIIAP had a precision gyro-stabilized platform with floated accelerometers and a computer, which ensured a CEP no greater than 1,500 meters. A completely new payload was developed for RT-2P missiles. Arzamas-16 Chief Designer Samvel Kocheryants developed a more compact nuclear warhead. In addition, the missile was equipped with decoy targets to thwart anti-ballistic missile systems. The updated missile went into service in 1972.

In 1974 the RT-2M variant was deployed. This system was developed by Nadiradize, which finally took over the program in 1973.

The expected service time of the RT-2 and RT-2Ps was estimated to be 10 years. Periodic static tests of motors on firing stands which were carried out after extended storage allowed an extension of the time the missiles could remain in service. Initially, the guaranteed service life of an RT-2 missile was determined to be seven years. During the process of firing missiles that had been standing on duty, their reliability was demonstrated after 15 years of storage! In all, during developmental testing and routine firings through the year 1994, 100 missiles were fired at intermediate and full ranges! Beginning in the 1970s, the RT-2P missile proved itself as one of the most reliable.

The missiles remained in service for more than twenty years, and were phased out by the middle of 1996 being replaced, in part, by 'Topol' missile systems. It wasn’t until 1995 that 60 RT-2P missiles ended their combat duty. For 25 years, these missile systems had served honorably. Together with other liquid- and solid-propellant missiles, they had provided strategic parity as a guarantee of peace. However, for the history of the domestic missile building industry, the most important thing was not the number of silos occupied by RT-2 missiles, but the fact that the RT-2 had paved the way for other types of solid-propellant missiles.

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Page last modified: 02-10-2018 18:36:41 ZULU