Strategic missile forces museum in Ukraine
The Strategic Missile Forces Museum in Ukraine (Музей ракетних військ стратегічного призначення) is a military museum located near the town of Pobuzke (Побузьке) in Ukraine, about 250 kilometres (160 mi) south of Kyiv. It was built around the remains of a former underground Unified Command Post (UPC) for RT-23/SS-24 Molodets ICBM rockets.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Ukraine held about one third of the Soviet nuclear arsenal, the third largest in the world at the time, as well as significant means of its design and production. 130 UR-100N/RS-18 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) with six warheads each, 46 RT-23 Molodets ICBMs with ten warheads apiece, as well as 33 heavy bombers, totalling approximately 1,700 warheads remained on Ukrainian territory. In 1994 Ukraine agreed to destroy the weapons, and to join the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
40 of the underground launch silos for the RT-23 ICBMs had been installed around the city of Pervomaisk in the Mykolaiv Oblast, the home of the 46th Rocket Division of the 43rd Rocket Army of the Soviet Strategic Rocket Forces. The individual silos were scattered across the general area and often located on fields, surrounded by a fence and guarded. A group of nine or ten silos was connected to a common, underground Unified Command Post manned by several military officers.
After the Declaration of Independence of Ukraine, the country opted for denuclearization. Between 1994 and 1997 all of the silos near Pervomaisk were de-alerted and the missiles returned to Russia. 30 of the 40 silos were destroyed with the help of foreign experts through the Nunn–Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program. One of the former Unified Command Posts near the town of Pobuzke was converted into the Strategic Missile Forces Museum on October 30, 2001 and is now part of the National Military History Museum in Kyiv.
The museum consists of several different parts:
- An indoor exhibit space (housed in the former administrative building) with exhibits ranging from World War I weapons to equipment from other Unified Command Posts, including mock-ups of a launch room and sleeping quarters
- An outdoor exhibition space
- 155 meters of underground passageways between the buildings on the surface and the Unified Command Post
- The Unified Command Post
- An RT-23/SS-24 missile silo
- An extendable communications antenna
- A power supply and ventilation building
- Parts of the original protection facilities
Most of the museum, especially the Unified Command Post, can only be visited on guided tours.
The museum also operates a historical and cultural center located off-premises in Pervomaisk.
Outdoor exhibition space
The outdoor exhibition space offers a wide variety of exhibits ranging from rocket engine parts, mock warheads and missiles to military vehicles, helicopters and trains. Among them are models of the R-12/SS-4 missile (which played a key role in the Caribbean crisis of 1961) and an original R-36M/RS-20 missile of which not only the exterior, but also internal components are shown.
Underground Unified Command Post (UPC)
It is a 33 meter long, round metal tube, 3.3 meters in diameter and 125 tons in weight. It is located inside a silo three meters below the ground. It consists of eleven compartments which house everything needed to keep the Unified Command Post running autonomously for up to 45 days in case of a nuclear war:
- Compartment 1 and 2 (at the top): Emergency Diesel generators
- Compartment 3: Communications equipment, connected to the outside antenna
- Compartment 4: Automatic control and monitoring
- Compartment 5: Communications equipment
- Compartment 6 and 8: Electric distribution equipment
- Compartment 7: Air Handler equipment
- Compartment 9 and 10: Missile control and launch hardware
- Compartment 11: The actual command post with the missile remote control, monitoring and communications panels. Two officers would be on duty inside this compartment for six hour shifts.
- Compartment 12 (at the bottom): Sleeping and resting quarters for the second crew
The power supply and ventilation building located outside of the UCP count as Compartment 0. The individual segments can be reached via an elevator. When the elevator is in its parking position at the top, the metal tube is suspended inside the silo using hydraulic actuators and can move freely to counter the effects of a direct enemy hit.
Visitors can take the elevator down to Compartment 11 in pairs during guided tours. The command panels have been set up to simulate a fake rocket launch. When both visitors turn their individual launch keys simultaneously, the controls will light up as if during an actual launch.
The site was heavily guarded, and the museum has kept much of the original protection facilities. These include a P-100 electric fence, watch towers with machine guns, cameras, seismic alarm sensors and radiation detection systems.
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- William C. Martel (1998). "Why Ukraine gave up nuclear weapons : nonproliferation incentives and disincentives". In Barry R. Schneider, William L. Dowdy (ed.). Pulling Back from the Nuclear Brink: Reducing and Countering Nuclear Threats. Psychology Press. pp. 88–104. ISBN 9780714648569. Retrieved 6 August 2014.
There are some reports that Ukraine had established effective custody, but not operational control, of the cruise missiles and gravity bombs. ... By early 1994 the only barrier to Ukraine's ability to exercise full operational control over the nuclear weapons on missiles and bombers deployed on its soil was its inability to circumvent Russian permissive action links (PALs).
- Alexander A. Pikayev (Spring–Summer 1994). "Post-Soviet Russia and Ukraine: Who can push the Button?" (PDF). The Nonproliferation Review. 1 (3): 31–46. doi:10.1080/10736709408436550. Retrieved 6 August 2014.
- "Відмова України від ядерної зброї". Музей РВСП (in Ukrainian). 2013-11-23. Retrieved 2019-01-21.
- "Про Музей ракетних військ стратегічного призначення". Музей РВСП (in Ukrainian). Retrieved 2019-01-21.
- "Експонати - Тягач МАЗ-537". Музей РВСП (in Ukrainian). 2013-11-23. Retrieved 2019-01-21.
- "КП 15В155 (15В52У)". Музей РВСП (in Ukrainian). 2013-11-24. Retrieved 2019-01-21.
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