Kura Missile Test Range

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Kura Missile Test Range
Near Klyuchi in Russia
Kura Missile Test Range is located in Russia
Kura Missile Test Range
Kura Missile Test Range
Location in Russia
Coordinates 57°20′00″N 161°50′00″E / 57.33333°N 161.83333°E / 57.33333; 161.83333
Type ICBM test range
Site information
Owner Russian Armed Forces
Operator Russian Aerospace Defence Forces (VKO)
Site history
Built 1955 (1955)

Kura Missile Test Range (Russian: Ракетный полигон Кура́), originally known as Kama, is a Russian intercontinental ballistic missile impact area located in northern Kamchatka Krai in the Russian Far East. It is the destination for ballistic missiles which are test fired from other centers, and was chosen due to its remoteness and distance. It is 130 kilometers (81 mi) northeast of the settlement of Klyuchi and the military townlet is called Klyuchi-1, after the nearest settlement.[1][2]


The range was developed beginning in 1955 and was operational in 1957.[2][3] The first impact occurred on 21 August 1957, and was followed by 136 impacts through 1964.[4]

Although the range is a test site for intercontinental ballistic missiles, which are controlled by the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces, the range is administratively under Plesetsk Cosmodrome, and consequently is part of the Russian Aerospace Defence Forces.[5][6]

It continues to be active. It was reported that the strategic nuclear submarine K-535 Yury Dolgoruky of Project 955 (Borei) on Wednesday, 29 October 2014 20:27 MSK (17:27 UTC) successfully conducted its fifth launch of Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) at Kura firing range. On 30 October 2013 Russia conducted a large-scale exercise to check the readiness of its strategic forces. The Strategic Rocket Forces conducted two ICBM launches - a Topol missile was launched from the Plesetsk test site and an R-36M2 (RS-10V/SS-18) missile from a silo in Dombarovskiy. Both missiles delivered their warheads to the Kura test site in Kamchatka. Previous impact was recorded at 10:15 (06:15 GMT) on Wednesday 23 May 2012 when a new as yet unnamed ballistic missile designed to evade the US missile shield was tested. The missile was fired from a mobile launcher on the Plesetsk range. The warhead was delivered successfully to its designated area on the Kura range on Kamchatka.[7] A Bulava missile, launched from submarine Dimitri Donskoi, landed at Kura in October 2010.[8] Test launches of R-29RMU Sineva and RT-2PM2 Topol-M missiles also frequently target the Kura Missile Test Range.

United States surveillance[edit]

The Kura range attracted intense interest from United States intelligence agencies in 1957. There was early speculation that missiles were being launched from this range, but this was settled by information from Lockheed U-2 missions in summer 1957 which flew directly over the range and could find no launch infrastructure.[9] The study noted that impacts in the nearby water were likely, and that the Soviets were expected to install sonic detection systems to measure water impacts. The missions revealed a regiment of seven Mil Mi-4 helicopters based at Klyuchi which provided logistical support for the range.

The United States maintained a permanent Eareckson Air Station (formerly Shemya Air Force Base) only 935 km (581 mi) away, equipped with radars and aircraft to monitor impacts at Kura. One of these radars, Cobra Dane, was fielded in 1977 at Shemya specifically for this purpose.[citation needed]

Some past military staff photos, antennas, optical and radio system photos, can be seen here [10] from diverse tracking stations from around the range.


  1. ^ Не каждая "Булава" долетит до середины Камчатки [Not every Bulava will reach the middle of Kamchatka] (in Russian). Novaya Gazeta. 5 May 2011. Retrieved 2 July 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Soviet Technical Capabilities in Guided Missiles and Space Vehicles, NIE 11-5-6, TOP SECRET, declassified 1996. Central Intelligence Agency. 1961. 
  3. ^ The Soviet ICBM Program, NIE 11-10-57, TOP SECRET, declassified 1995. Central Intelligence Agency. 1957. 
  4. ^ SOVIET ANTIBALLISTIC MISSILE ACTIVITY AT KAMCHATKA, October 18, 1965 (Top Secret, declassified August 11, 2003), Central Intelligence Agency, Washington D.C., 1965.
  5. ^ "Russia creates Air and Space Defense Forces". russianforces.org. 1 December 2011. Retrieved 25 December 2011. 
  6. ^ "Structure". Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation. n.d. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  7. ^ "Russia tests prototype of a new ICBM". russianforces.org. 23 May 2012. Retrieved 1 July 2012. 
  8. ^ Начальник Генштаба доложил Президенту об успешном пуске ракеты "Булава" (in Russian). Kremlin.ru. 7 October 2010. Retrieved 1 July 2012. 
  9. ^ GUIDED MISSILE INTELLIGENCE FROM THE KLYUCHI/KAMCHATKA COVERAGE, August 22, 1957 (Top Secret, declassified April 26, 2001), Central Intelligence Agency, Washington D.C., 1957.
  10. ^ http://www.kik-sssr.ru/O_Y_Kamchatka.htm