Strategic Missile Troops
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|Ракетные войска стратегического назначения
Raketnye voyska strategicheskogo naznacheniya
Strategic Missile Troops
SRF emblem and flag
|Active||December 17, 1959 – present|
|Country||Russian Federation (earlier – Soviet Union)|
|Role||Strategic Missile Deterrence|
|Size||80,000 (2012) (Strategic deterrent forces of all services).|
|Headquarters||Vlasikha, 2.5 km northwest of Odintsovo, Moscow Oblast|
|Colonel General Sergei Karakayev|
The Strategic Missile Troops or Strategic Rocket Forces of the Russian Federation or RVSN RF are a military branch of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation that controls Russia's land-based inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). The RVSN was first formed in the Soviet Armed Forces, and when the USSR collapsed in 1990–1991, it effectively changed its name from the Soviet to the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces.
The Strategic Rocket Forces were created on December 17, 1959 as the main Soviet force used for attacking an enemy's offensive nuclear weapons, military facilities, and industrial infrastructure. They operated all Soviet ground-based intercontinental, intermediate-range, and medium-range nuclear missiles with ranges over 1,000 kilometers. Complementary strategic forces within Russia are the Long Range Aviation and the Russian Navy's ballistic missile submarines.
The first Soviet rocket study unit was established in June 1946, by redesignating the 92nd Guards Mortar Regiment at Bad Berka in East Germany as the 22nd Brigade for Special Use of the Reserve of the Supreme High Command. On October 18, 1947 the brigade conducted the first launch of the remanufactured former German A-4 ballistic missile, or R-1, from the Kapustin Yar Range. In the early 1950s the 77th and 90th Brigades were also formed to operate the R-1 (SS-1a Scunner). The 54th and 56th Brigades were formed to conduct test launches of the R-2 (SS-2 Sibling) at Kapustin Yar on June 1, 1952.
From 1959 the Soviets introduced a number of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) into service, including the SS-4 'Sandal', the SS-6 'Sapwood' (R-7), the SS-7 'Saddler' (R-16), the SS-8 'Sasin' (R-9A), the SS-8 'Sasin' (R-26), the SS-9 'Scarp' (R-36), and the SS-16 'Sinner' (RT-21), which was possibly never made fully operational. By 1990 all these early types of missiles had been retired from service.
During a test of the R-16 ICBM on October 24, 1960, the test missile exploded on the pad, killing the first commander of the SRF, Chief Marshal of Artillery Mitrofan Ivanovich Nedelin. This disaster, the details of which were concealed for decades, became known as the Nedelin catastrophe. He was succeeded by Marshal of the Soviet Union Kirill Moskalenko, who in turn was succeeded quickly by Marshal Sergey Biryuzov. Under Marshal Вiryuzov the SRF deployed missiles to Cuba in 1962 as part of Operation Anadyr. 36 R-12 intermediate range ballistic missiles were sent to Cuba, initiating the Cuban Missile Crisis. 43rd Guards Missile Division of 43rd Rocket Army manned the missiles while in Cuba.
Marshal Nikolai Krylov then took over in March 1963 and served until February 1972. During this time French President Charles de Gaulle visited the Strategic Rocket Forces in 1966. Together with NI Krylov, he visited a missile division in Novosibirsk, and then at the invitation of Leonid Brezhnev participated in a demonstration missile launch at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in the Kazakh SSR. Chief Marshal of Artillery Vladimir Fedorovich Tolubko commanded the SRF from April 12, 1972 to July 10, 1985. Tolubko emphasised raising the physical fitness standards within the SRF. He was succeeded by General of the Army Yury Pavlovich Maksimov, who commanded from July 10, 1985 to August 19, 1992.
According to a 1980 TIME Magazine article citing analysts from RAND Corporation, Soviet non-Slavs were generally barred from joining the Strategic Rocket Forces because of suspicions of loyalty of ethnic minorities to the Kremlin.
In 1989 the Strategic Rocket Forces had over 1,400 ICBMs, 300 launch control centers, and twenty-eight missile bases. The SMT also operated SS-20 (RSD-10 Pioneer) intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) and SS-4 medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs). Two-thirds of the road-mobile Soviet SS-20 force was based in the western Soviet Union and was aimed at Western Europe. One-third of the force was located east of the Ural Mountains and was targeted primarily against China. Older SS-4 missiles were deployed at fixed sites in the western Soviet Union. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, signed in December 1987, called for the elimination of all 553 Soviet SS-20 and SS-4 missiles within three years. As of mid-1989, over 50% of SS-20 and SS-4 missiles had been eliminated.
By 1990 the Soviet Union had seven types of operational ICBMs; about 50% were heavy SS-18 and SS-19 ICBMs, which carried 80% of the country's land-based ICBM warheads. By this time it was also producing new mobile, and hence survivable ICBMs, the SS-24 and SS-25. In 1990, with the SS-4 apparently fully retired, the IISS reported that there were 350 SS-11 'Sego' (UR-100) (Mod 2/3), 60 SS-13 'Savage' (RT-2) still in service in one missile field, 75 SS-17 'Spanker' (UR-100MR) (Mod 3, with 4 MIRV), 308 SS-18s (mostly Mod 4 with 10 MIRV), 320 SS-19 (mostly Mod 3 with 6 MIRV), some 60 SS-24 'Scalpel' (RT-23) (silo and rail-mobile), and some 225 SS-25 (mobile).
Composition of the Strategic Rocket Forces 1960–1991
|Formation||Headquarters Location||Year formed as Corps||Year formed as Army||Year disbanded||Divisions|
|27th Guards Rocket Army||HQ Vladimir, Moscow Military District||01.09.59||1970||Still active||7th Guards Rocket Division, 28th Guards Rocket Division, (32 ), 54th Guards Rocket Division, 60th Rocket Division|
|31st Rocket Army||Orenburg, Urals Military District||05.09.65||1970||Still active||8th, 13th, 14th, (41), 42nd, 50, 52, (55), 59|
|33rd Guards Rocket Army||Omsk, Siberian Military District||1962||1970||Still active||23, (34), 35th, 36th Guards, 38, 39th Guards, 57, 62|
|43rd Rocket Army||Vinnitsa, Kiev Military District||–||1960||May 8, 1996||19 (Khmelnitsky), 37th Guards (Lutsk), 43 (Kremenchug), 44 (Kolomyia, Ivano-Frankovsk Oblast, disbanded March 31, 1990. Previously 73rd Engineer Brigade RVGK at Kamyshin.), 46 (Pervomaisk, Mykolaiv Oblast)|
|50th Rocket Army||Smolensk, Belorussian Military District||–||1960||June 30, 1990||1988: 7th Guards, 24th Guards (Gvardeysk, Kaliningrad Oblast), 31st Guards (former 83rd Guards Bryansko-Berlinskaya Aviation (Missile) Division, renumbered July 1, 1960), 32nd (Postavy, Vitebsk Oblast), 40th, 49th Guards (Lida, Grodno Region, 1963 to 1990), 58th (Karmelava, Lithuania)|
|53rd Rocket Army||Chita, Transbaikal Military District||1962||June 8, 1970||Sept. 16, 2002||1988: 4th Missile Division (Drovyanaya, Chita Oblast), 23rd Guards Missile Division (Kansk, assigned 1983–2002), 27th Rocket Division (Svobodnyy, Amur Oblast), 29th, 36th Guards, 47th Rocket Division (Olovyannaya, Chita Oblast)|
Like most of the Russian military, the Strategic Rocket Forces have had limited access to resources for new equipment in the Yeltsin era. However, the Russian government has made a priority of ensuring that the Rocket Forces receive new missiles to phase out older, less-reliable systems, and to incorporate newer capabilities in the face of international threats to the viability of the nuclear deterrent effect provided by their missiles, in particular the development of missile defense systems in the United States.
In 1995, the decree of the President of Russia № 1239 from December 10, 1995 "On establishing the Day of the Strategic Rocket Forces Day and Military Space Forces Day" was promulgated. On July 16, 1997, President Boris Yeltsin signed a decree incorporating the Russian Space Forces and the Space Missile Defence Forces (Russian: Ракетно-космической обороны) into the SMT. In doing so, 'nearly 60' military units and establishments were dissolved. However, four years later, on June 1, 2001, the Russian Space Forces were reformed as a separate branch of service from the SMT.
Minister of Defence Marshal of the Russian Federation Igor Sergeev, a former commander of the SMT from August 19, 1992 – May 22, 1997, played a major role in assuring funding for his former service. He was succeed by General of the Army Vladimir Yakovlev, who commanded the SMT from June 1997 until April 27, 2001. Yakovlev was succeeded by Colonel General Nikolay Solovtsov (ru:Соловцов, Николай Евгеньевич), appointed the same day. In early 2009 Solovtsov said that 96% of all Russian ICBMs are ready to be launched within a minute's notice. Solovtsov was dismissed in turn in July–August 2009. Speculation over why Solovtsov was dismissed includes opposition to further cuts in deployed nuclear ballistic missile warheads below the April 2009 figure of 1,500, the fact that he had reached the retirement age of 60, despite that he had recently been extended another year's service, or the failure of the Navy's Bulava missile). After only a year, Lieutenant General Andrey Shvaichenko, appointed on August 3, 2009 by President Dmitry Medvedev, was replaced himself. The current commander of the Strategic Rocket Forces, Colonel General Sergei Karakayev, was appointed to the post by a presidential decree of June 22, 2010.
RVSN headquarters has a special sledgehammer that can be used to gain access to the launch codes if the commander feels the need to use these, but doesn't have normal access to the safe.
Composition in 2010s
|Armed Forces of the
|Independent troops (rod)|
|Ranks of the Russian Military|
|History of the Russian military|
Female cadets have now started to join the Peter the Great Strategic Rocket Forces Academy. RVSN institutes also exist at Serpukhov and Rostov-on-Don. An ICBM test impact range is located in the Far East, the Kura Test Range, although this has been part of the Aerospace Defence Forces since 2010.
The Strategic Rocket Forces operate four distinct missile systems. The oldest system is the silo-based R-36M2 / SS-18 Satan which carries ten warheads, the last missile will be in service until 2020. The second system is the silo-based UR-100NUTTH / SS-19 Stiletto, the last 70 missiles in service with six warheads each will be removed by 2017. The most numerous missile in service is the single warhead mobile RT-2PM Topol / SS-25 Sickle which have 171 missiles in service, all of them are planned to be decommissioned by 2019. A new missile entering service is the RT-2UTTH Topol-M / SS-27 Sickle B with single warhead, from which 49 are silo-based and 19 are mobile. Some new missiles will be added in future. First upgraded Topol-M called RS-24 Yars, carrying three warheads, was commissioned in 2010 and in July 2011 the first mobile regiment with 9 missiles was completed.
The composition of missiles and warheads of the Strategic Rocket Forces previously had to be revealed as part of the START I treaty data exchange. The current (December 2010) order of battle of the forces is as follows:
- 27th Guards Missile Army (HQ: Vladimir)
- 98th Separate Mixed Aviation Squadron
- 7th Guards Rocket Division at Vypolzovo with 18 mobile RT-2PM Topol
- 14th Rocket Division at Yoshkar-Ola with 27 mobile RT-2PM Topol
- 28th Guards Rocket Division at Kozelsk with 29 silo-based UR-100NUTTH
- 54th Guards Rocket Division at Teykovo with 18 mobile RT-2UTTH Topol-M and 12 (December 2011) mobile RS-24
- 60th Rocket Division at Tatischevo with 41 silo-based UR-100NUTTH and 52 silo-based RT-2UTTH Topol-M
- 31st Missile Army (HQ: Rostoshi)
- 33rd Guards Rocket Army (HQ: Omsk)
In 2016 is estimated the 31st Rocket Army will be disbanded. The 42nd RD with RT-2PM will be disbanded, and 13th RD with R-36 will be transferred to the 27th GRA. (Podvig)
Numbers of missiles and warheads
The Strategic Rocket Forces have
- 58 silo-based R-36M2 (SS-18)
- 70 silo-based UR-100N (SS-19)
- 153 mobile RT-2PM "Topol" (SS-25)
- 60 silo-based RT-2UTTH "Topol M" (SS-27)
- 18 mobile RT-2UTTH "Topol M" (SS-27)
- 42 mobile and silo based RS-24 "Yars" (SS-29)
This gives Russia a total fleet of 434 ICBMs, slightly fewer than the US fleet of 450 Minuteman-III ICBMs.
- International Institute for Strategic Studies: The Military Balance 2012, p.192
- Russian: Ракетные войска стратегического назначения Российской Федерации (РВСН РФ), transliteration: Raketnye voyska strategicheskogo naznacheniya Rossiyskoy Federatsii, literally Missile Troops of Strategic Designation of the Russian Federation.
- This foundation date is shared with the Russian Space Forces (VKS) by the President of Russian Federation Decree N.1239 dated December 10, 1995
- Michael Holm, 24th Guards Rocket Division, accessed December 2013.
- RVSN – Strategic Rocket Forces – Russian and Soviet Nuclear Forces
- Mike Holm, Strategic Rocket Forces
- National Security Archive, http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB14/doc18.htm
- [The U.S.S.R.: Moscow's Military Machine The U.S.S.R.: Moscow's Military Machine], TIME Magazine, June 23, 1980
- Library of Congress Soviet Union Country Study, 1989
- IISS Military Balance 1990–91, p.34
- Feskov, V.I.; Kalashnikov, K.A., Golikov, V.I. (2004). The Soviet Army in the Years of the Cold War 1945–91. Tomsk: Tomsk University Publishing House. p. 132. ISBN 5-7511-1819-7.
- "32nd Missile Division". Ww2.dk. Retrieved 2012-10-09.
- [dead link]
- Holm, 44th Missile Division
- Previously 92 BON, then given the combined-arms designation of 22nd RVGK special-purpose brigade, then 72nd RVGK Engineer Brigade, and in 1960 the 24th Guards Division of the RVSN was formed on its basis. http://www.ww2.dk/new/rvsn/24gvmd.htm
- Formed Chita in 1970 from the 8th Independent Missile Corps, under Colonel-General Yury Zabegaylov. Included 45th Missile Division (disbanded 1970).
- Activated 5.60 in Nerchinsk, Chita Oblast as the 119th Missile Brigade, from the 116th Artillery Brigade. Initially under the 57th Artillery Range Administration, and from 3.61 the 8th independent Missile Corps. May 1961 renamed the 4th Missile Division. Named Harbinskaya 10.61, from the disbanded 46th Tank Division. 4th Missile Division
- http://www.ww2.dk/new/rvsn/47md.htm 47th Missile Division
- Greg Austin and Alexiy D. Muraviev, The Armed Forces of Russia in Asia, Tauris, 2001, p.185-6
- Russia can launch ICBMs at minute's notice – missile forces chief | Russia | RIA Novosti
- "Russian Missile Chief Fired Amid Speculation". RIA Novosti. August 3, 2009. Retrieved September 24, 2009.
- Pavel Podvig, Russian Strategic Rocket Forces, accessed September 2010
- "Указ Президента Российской Федерации от 09.08.2012 № 1141 "О присвоении воинских званий высших офицеров военнослужащим Вооруженных Сил Российской Федерации"" [Decree of the President of the Russian Federation dated 09.08.2012 number 1141 "About the assignment of ranks of senior officers of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation"] (in Russian). Kremlin.ru. 9 August 2012. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
- "Russian Missile Forces Have 'Safe Busting' Sledgehammer." RIA Novosti, 6 June 2012.
- Jane's Defence Weekly June 25, 1994, 32, via Austin and Muraviev, The Armed Forces of Russia in Asia, 2001.
- "Библиотека изображений "РИА Новости" :: Галерея". Visualrian.com. Retrieved 2012-10-09.
- Topol might stay in service until 2019. "Topol might stay in service until 2019 - Blog - Russian strategic nuclear forces". Russianforces.org. Retrieved 2012-10-09.
- Launch of Topol to confirm missile life extension. "Launch of Topol to confirm missile life extension - Blog - Russian strategic nuclear forces". Russianforces.org. Retrieved 2012-10-09.
- Deployment of the first full regiment of RS-24 is completed. "Deployment of the first full regiment of RS-24 is completed - Blog - Russian strategic nuclear forces". Russianforces.org. Retrieved 2012-10-09.
- Strategic Rocket Forces – Russian strategic nuclear forces
- RS-24 deployment in Teykovo, Novosibirsk, and Kozelsk. "RS-24 deployment in Teykovo, Novosibirsk, and Kozelsk - Blog - Russian strategic nuclear forces". Russianforces.org. Retrieved 2012-10-09.
- "Armaments of Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces".
- Дороговоз И. Г. Ракетные войска СССР. — Минск: Харвест, 2007. — 336 с. — ISBN 978-985-13-9751-4
- John G. Hines et al. Soviet Intentions 1965–1985. Braddock Dunn & McDonald (BDM), 1995.
- Strategic Rocket Forces museum
- "Владимирская Ракетная Стратегическая" (Vladimirskaya Strategic Missile) by I.V. Vershkov and V.G. Gagarin; Vladimir 2006; 480 pages;
- "Оренбургская Стратегическая" (Orenburg Strategic) by Y.N. Feoktistov; Perm 2001; 328 pages; (also a 1997 edition).
- "Читинская Ракетная Армия" (Chitinskaya Missile Army) by ??; Chita, 2002; 268 pages
- "История 50-й Ракетной Армии I-IV" (History 50th Missile Army, part 1-4) by G.I. Smirnov and A.I. Yasakov; Smolensk 2008; 370+342+387+561 pages
- "Стратеги" (Strategic) by V.T. Nosov; Moscow, 2008; 276 pages;
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