Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Russian Missile Trains: Being restored back to Full Glory

“Russia has made the decision to start the development of a military railroad missile complex for the Strategic Missile Forces,” said Igor Korotchenko, director of the Center for Analysis of World Arms Trade (CAWAT). “By that time, the European Missile Defense System will be able to intercept Russian ICBMs, thanks to new versions of its SM-3 anti-BM missile. Under the circumstances, Moscow has been forced to take adequate countermeasures,” Korotchenko said.

The Soviet Union began testing a missile train armed with the RT-23 solid-fuel missile in February 1983. The train was able to travel more than 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) per day without being discovered and could launch missiles from any point along its route. A missile train regiment included a train consisting of three locomotives and 17 rail cars, with nine platforms carrying missile launchers. Missile trains were expected to become the core of the counter strike group because of their improved durability and their ability to withstand a first enemy strike.

RT-23 'Molodets' Missile Train ( Image Courtesy - mapability.com )

The first regiment armed with the RT-23 Molodets missile went on combat duty in October 1987. By 1999 there were three missile divisions with four regiments each — that is, 36 launchers in total. The trains were kept in stationary shelters located four kilometers apart. When on combat duty, they were dispersed. The Molodets only performed one live launch throughout its entire history, during a military exercise. A missile fired from the Kostroma region hit a target at Kamchatka. The Americans were unable to track down the train’s coordinates before or after the launch.

Incidentally, according to Zaitsev, the Americans feared missile trains even more than the famous “Satan” missile — the RS-20 ICBM — and did all they could to make them disappear from the Strategic Missile Forces. START II spelled the end of missile trains. Under the treaty, all RT-23 were to be scrapped. However, after the United States unilaterally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, Moscow declared the START II null and void, especially since it was never ratified.

Nevertheless, a decision was made shortly afterward to decommission missile trains and gradually dismantle them. The first strategic train was disassembled in June 2003. Two years later, the last train was taken off combat duty and sent to a recycling yard, after spending a year at a storage base.

RT-23 'Molodets' Intercontinental Ballistic Missile ( Image Courtesy - mapability.com )

The fact that Russia has accumulated experience operating missile trains, in addition to a highly developed railway network, make the decision to restore a military railroad missile complex to Russia’s nuclear missile arsenal a logical one. According to official information from the Ministry of Defense, military railroad missile complexes are currently under development - so a new and much more advanced version of Missile Trains will re-appear in Russia by 2020.

Once deployed, Russia’s missile trains would make it extremely cumbersome, for American technical reconnaissance to determine their location. “Besides mobile surface-based complexes, Russian Federation will receive additional potential to launch an effective counter strike,” said Korotchenko.

News Courtesy - http://rbth.ru

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