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RT-23
Part of R-39 Family
RT-23U
RT-23U
Ukrainian intercontinental ballistic missile. The only rail-based ICBM ever deployed. Developed by Yuzhnoye in the Ukraine was protracted, but understandable given the huge technical challenges. Twelve years of design and testing was followed by deployment from 1988. All were retired by 2003.

Status: Retired 2003.

Development of a train-based ICBM had been a long-term objective of the Soviet military. Interest was already piqued by the V-2 launch train captured from Germany in 1945, and used at Kapustin Yar for the first ballistic missile tests in the late 1940's. The advantages were that they allowed a greater missile mass then road-mobile concepts. Yangel had studied a 12-wagon train-launched version of the R-12 in the 1950's, and this method had also been developed for the Burya intercontinental cruise missile of the same period. Difficulties in developing a road-mobile ICBM with a practical take-off mass led to studies of train-launched versions of the RT-2 and RT-21 in the 1960's. None of these went beyond the design stage.

Following study of the lessons learned in development of Yangel's abortive mixed propulsion land-mobile RT-20P, the leadership ordered long-term study by Yuzhnoye of a train-launched ICBM. This was to use all solid propellants and be of a practical size while delivering a large enough nuclear warhead to justify the expense. Long-term research on a train-based BZhRK version of the RT-23 began on 13 January 1969. The advanced project was completed the same year. KBSM designed the launch train, which would consist of six SM-SP-35 launch carriages, four carriages for storage and security of nuclear weapons, and five support carriages. In October 1975 the Pavlograd Mechanical Factory began fabrication of the key 15D65 high-performance solid rocket stage, the basis of the first stage of both the RT-23 ICBM and the R-39 SLBM.

Full development of the RT-23 mobile ICBM began with a resolution of 23 July 1976 which authorized development of both silo and mobile versions, with a total missile mass of 100 to 150 metric tons. The draft project for the single-warhead silo and truck-based versions was completed in March 1977. A 1 July 1979 decree added the requirement for the missile to be capable of dispensing 3 to 4 multiple independently-targeted warheads.



Subtopics

Tselina-2 ICBM Ukrainian intercontinental ballistic missile. Development of the Tselina-2 road transport for a heavy ICBM can be traced back to the late 1960's. By the 1970's two versions had been designed, the 12-axle MAZ-7906 and 8-axle MAZ-7907. They could transport loads of up to 140 metric tons, much greater than the single-warhead RT-23 and its container. Although trials of prototypes were conducted in the 1980's, the road mobile version of the RT-23 was never put into service.

Family: ICBM, train-launched. Country: Ukraine. Engines: RD-866. Stages: 15D305, 15D339, 15D206. Agency: Yuzhnoye. Bibliography: 2, 475, 476, 8556.
Photo Gallery

SS-24SS-24
Credit: Ukrainian Space Agency


SS-24SS-24
Credit: Ukrainian Space Agency


RT-23RT-23



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