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Strategic Missile Forces

Strategic Missile Forces’ History

The origin of the Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) is associated with development of domestic and foreign missiles, then nuclear-missile weapons, with improvement of their combat use.

The material basis for establishment of the Strategic Missile Force was deploying in the USSR a new branch of the defence industry — the rocket and missile engineering. The Council of Ministers of the USSR’s Resolution of 13.5.1946 № 1017-419 «The questions of jet weapons» determined the cooperation of the head industrial ministries, in accordance to it the research-and experimental work was initiated, the Special Committee on reactive technology at the Council of Ministers of the USSR was established.

The Ministry of the USSR’s Armed Forces formed: the special artillery unit for development, preparation and launch of missiles similar to V-2, the Research Jet Institute of the Main Artillery Administration, the State Central Range of Jet Technology (the range of Kapustin Yar), the Administration of Reactive Armament of the Main Artillery Administration.

The first missile formation armed with long-range ballistic missiles became the brigade of special purpose of the Supreme High Command Reserve (SHCR) (Commander – Major General of Artillery A.F. Tveretsky). In December 1950 the second in succession brigade of special purpose was generated, in 1951–1955 – 5 more formations that received a new name (from 1953) – engineering brigades of the SHCR. Until 1955 they were armed with ballistic missiles R-1, R-2 with ranges of 270 km and 600 km, equipped with conventional explosive warheads (General Designer Sergey Korolyov). By 1958 the personnel of the brigades carried out more than 150 combat-capable missile launches. In 1946–1954 brigades formed part of the artillery of the SHCR and obeyed the Commander of Artillery of the Soviet Army. Controlling them was carried out by the special section of the Staff of Artillery of the Soviet Army. March 1955 was marked with introduction of the post of the Deputy Minister of Defence of the USSR on Special Armaments and Rocket Technology (Marshal of Artillery M.I. Nedelin), at which the Headquarters of reactive units was set up.

Fighting application of the engineering brigades was determined by the order of the Supreme Command, which decision provided attachment of these formations to the fronts. The Front Commander carried out controlling engineer brigades through the artillery commander.

On 4 October 1957 for the first time in world history the personnel of the separate engineering test unit successfully launched the first artificial satellite of the Earth from the Baikonur range using the combat missile R-7. The new era in human history – the era of practical cosmonautics – began thanks to the efforts of Soviet missile men.

In the 2nd half of the 50-ies, strategic IRMs R-5 and R-12 (General Designers S.P. Korolyov and M.K. Yangel’) with ranges of 1200 and 2000 km and ICBMs R-7 and R-7A (General Designer S.P. Korolyov) equipped with nuclear warheads were adopted for armament of formations and units. In 1958 the engineering brigades of the SHCR armed with tactical missiles R-11 and R-11M were transferred to the Land Force. The object coded as «Angara» (commander – Colonel M. Grigoryev) became the first ICBM formation, which completed formation by the end of 1958. In July 1959 the personnel of this formation carried out combat training launch of ICBM – the first in the Soviet Union.

The need for centralized command over the troops equipped with strategic missiles led to the institutionalization of a new Armed Service. In accordance with the Decision of the Council of Ministers of the USSR № 1384-615 of 17.12.1959 the Strategic Missile Force was created as an independent Armed Service. According to the RF President's Decree № 1239 of 10 December 1995 this day is celebrated as the annual holiday – the Day of the SMF.

On 31 December 1959 they were formed: the Main Staff of the Strategic Missile Force, the Central Command Post with the Signal Communications Centre and the Computing Centre, the Main Administration of Missile Armament, the Administration of Combat Training, a number of other Administrations and Services were formed. That time the structure of the Strategic Missile Force consisted of the 12th Main Administration of the DM, controlling nuclear munitions, engineer formations previously subordinated to the Deputy Secretary of Defence for Special Armaments and Missile Technology, missile regiments and administrations of 3 air divisions of the Air Force, missile arsenals, bases and warehouses of special weapons. The structure of the SMF also included the 4th State Central Range of the DM (Kapustin Yar), the 5th Research Test Range of the DM (Baikonur); the Separate Scientific Testing Station in the village of Klyuchi in Kamchatka, the 4th Research Institute of the DM (Bolshevo of the Moscow Region). In 1963 the 53rd Research Test Range of Missile and Space Armaments (Plesetsk) was formed on the base of the object «Angara».

On 22 June 1960 the Military Council of the Strategic Missile Force, which consisted of M.I. Nedelin (Chairman), V.A. Bolyatko, P.I. Yefimov, M.A. Nikolsky, A.I. Semenov, V.F. Tolubko, F.P. Tonkikh, M.I. Ponomaryov, was established.

In 1960 the Regulations on combat duty of the SMF units were enacted. In order to centralize command and control of strategic weapons of the Missile Forces the structure of control bodies of the Strategic Missile Force incorporated also the control points at the strategic, operational and tactical levels, and automated communications and control systems over troops and combat means were introduced.

In 1960–1961, two Missile Armies in Smolensk and Vinnitsa, which included formations of IRMs, were formed on the basis of two Air Armies of the Long-Range Aviation. Engineer brigades and regiments of the SHCR were reorganized into missile divisions and missile brigades of IRMs, and administrations of training artillery ranges and brigades of ICBMs – into administrations of missile corps and divisions. The basic combat unit in formation of IRMs was missile battalion, in formation of ICBMs – missile regiment. Until 1966 ICBMs R-16, R-9A (General Designers – M.K. Yangel’ and S.P. Korolyov) were taken for armament. The IRM troops formed subdivisions and units armed with missiles R-12U, R-14U with silo launchers of group location (General Designer M.K. Yangel’). The first missile formations and units were manned mainly with officers from the Artillery and other Arms of the Land Force, Navy, Air Force. Their re-training for missile specialties was conducted in training centres of ranges, industrial enterprises and in courses at military institutions, afterwards – in training groups in units.

In 1965–1973, the SMF was equipped with ballistic missile systems with single launches (BMSs SL) RS -10, RS-12, R-36 duly authorized within large areas (General Designers M.K. Yangel’, V.N. Chelomey). In 1970 Administrations of Missile Armies were created on the base of Administrations of Missile Corps in order to improve troop control and reliability of command and control. The units with single silo launchers were able to deliver a guaranteed retaliatory counter-attack in any conditions of the war beginning. BMSs of the 2nd generation provided remote processing a missile launch as soon as possible, a high target accuracy and survivability of troops and weapons, improving the operation of missile weapons.

In 1973–1985, the SMF made operational the station-keeping BMSs RS-16, RS-20A, RS-20B and RS-18 (General Designers V.F. Utkin and V.N. Chelomey) and the mobile ground BMS RSD-10 («Pioner») (General Designer A.D. Nadiradze) equipped with separable warheads independently targeted. Missiles and control points of station-keeping BMSs were located in structures of particularly high protection. Missiles used stand-alone control system with on-board computer, providing remote re-pointing of missiles before launch.

In 1985–1992, the SMF was armed with BMSs with missile RS-22 of silo and rail basing (General Designer V.F. Utkin) and modernized missiles RS-20V of silo basing and RS-12M of ground basing (General Designers V.F. Utkin and A.D. Nadiradze). These complexes had high combat readiness, high tenacity and resistance to destructive factors of nuclear explosion, rapid re-pointing and increased period of autonomy.

The quantitative and qualitative composition of NW carriers and nuclear warheads of the SMF, as well as of other components of the Strategic Nuclear Forces is limited since 1972 by the limits established by the Treaties between the Soviet Union (Russia) and the United States. In accordance with the Treaty between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the elimination of their intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles (1987) the IRMs and launchers to them were destroyed, including 72 missiles RSD-10 ("Pioner") – by launching them from field combat launching positions in the areas of the cities of Chita and Kansk.

In 1992 the Strategic Missile Force as a Service of the Armed Forces entered the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. Liquidation of missile systems of the Strategic Missile Force in Ukraine and Kazakhstan, as well as withdrawal to Russia of mobile BMSs "Topol’", located in Belarus, took place.

In 1997 the Strategic Missile Force, the Military Space Forces, the Troops of Missile-Space Defence joined. At some point it contributed to the closer integration of the information and strike strategic systems. From 1997 to 2001, except for missile armies and divisions, the Strategic Missile Force contained also military units and facilities of launch and control of space vehicles, as well as associations and formations of the Space Missile Defence.

In 1998 the Russian industrial cooperation completed the creation of the silo-based missile system of the 5th generation "Topol’-M". Its planting on alert within first missile regiments was started.

In 2001 the SMF was converted from the Service of the Armed Forces into 2 self-sustaining Arms of the Russian Armed Forces – the Strategic Missile Forces and the Space Forces.

The priorities for further development of the Strategic Missile Forces are as follows: maintaining the combat readiness of the existing group of troops, maximal extension of the life of missile systems, deployment with the necessary pace of modern missile systems “Topol’-M“ and “Yars”, development of troops and weapons’ combat control, creation of the technological advance on promising models of weapons and equipment of the SMF.

The main stages of the Russian SMF’s history:

1946–1959 – creation of the nuclear weapons and the first samples of guided ballistic missiles, deployment of missile formations that are able to solve tasks in frontline operations and strategic goals of the nearby theatres of operations.

1959–1965 – foundation of the Strategic Missile Force of the USSR’s Armed Forces, deployment and planting on alert within missile formations and units of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and intermediate-range missiles (IRMs), capable of solving strategic tasks in military-geographical regions and in all theatres of war. In 1962 the Strategic Missile Force participated in the operation «Anadyr», during which 42 IRMs R-12 and R-14 were secretly placed in Cuba, and made a significant contribution to resolving the Caribbean missile crisis preventing by that the U.S. invasion of Cuba.

1965–1973 – deployment of the group of intercontinental ballistic missiles with single launches (SL) of the 2nd generation, equipped with single warheads (SW). Transformation of the Strategic Missile Force into the main part of the Strategic Nuclear Forces, which made a major contribution to achieving the military-strategic parity between the USSR and USA.

1973–1985 – equipment of the SMF with intercontinental ballistic missiles of the 3rd generation with multiple warheads and means to overcome missile defence of the potential adversary, as well as with mobile BMSs with intermediate-range missiles.

1985–1992 – arming the SMF with stationary intercontinental and mobile missile BMSs of the 4th generation, elimination of intermediate range missiles in 1988–1991.

1992–1995 – creation of the Strategic Missile Force of the RF Armed Forces, elimination of BMSs with ICBMs in the territories of Ukraine and Kazakhstan, withdrawal of mobile BMSs "Topol’" from Belarus to Russia.

Since 1996 – re-armament from obsolete types of BMSs into systems RS-12M2 with unified single-warhead ICBMs of stationary and mobile basing of the 5th generation (BMS "Topol’-M").


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