Encyclopedia Astronautica
R-36M2 15A18M



r36m2mw.jpg
R-36M2
Ukrainian intercontinental ballistic missile. The R-36M2 was the Soviet Union's answer to the American 'Star Wars' anti-ballistic missile system. It was unusually named 'Voevoda' (an old Russian word for the leader of an army) in recognition of its planned role. In the end, it was only deployed in very limited numbers before the end of the Cold War.

A tactical-technical specification was issued on July 1979 for a fourth generation heavy ICBM to replace the R-36MUTTKh and be capable of defeating future anticipated American anti-ballistic missile defences. The draft project was completed in June 1982 and featured uprated engines better resistant to nearby nuclear blasts. Decrees authorising development of the improved RD-263F booster engines was issued in December 1980. The draft project for the redesignated RD-274 engines was completed in December 1982. Development of the RD-274 was completed in May 1985 and the design passed to Yuzhnoye for production (some sources say that problems with turbine balance in the development of the RD-274 could not be resolved, and that the older RD-264 was installed in the production R-36M2).

A formal decree authorising development of the entire missile was issued on 9 August 1983. This included the RD-0255 upper stage engine and the four second-stage verniers. The missile would feature a new cold-launch gas generator designed by Zhukov at FTDT Soyuz. Flight trials of the missile with the 15F173 multiple-warhead bus began on 23 March 1986. The first launch was a tremendous failure. The cold-launch mortar fired, but the rest of the launch sequence failed. The missile exploded in the silo, blowing the 100 tonne silo lid far into the air and leaving only a huge crater at LC-101 Baikonur where the silo once was. The silo was beyond repair.

In May 1986 came one of many steps that seemed to indicate anticipation of the disintegration of the Soviet Union. It was decided the alternate 15F175 single-warhead bus, already designed by Yuzhnoye, would be built instead by a Russian enterprise.

Test flights with the Ukrainian 15F173 payload were completed in March 1988. The first test with the Russian 15F175 came a month later, and were completed in September 1989. On 11 August 1988 the R-36M2 and 15F173 warhead were accepted for military service, followed by the 15F175 warhead on 23 August 1990. The missile entered service at Dombarovskiy in December 1988, and at Uzhur and Derzhavinsk in 1990. A total of about 190 were built. Although Yuzhnoye developed life extension programmes to keep the missile in service for 15, 18, and 20 years, the missile itself was prohibited in in the START-2 arms reduction agreement. Replacement with the all-Russian Topol-M began in 1992 and by 1998 a total of only 58 silos were loaded with the R-36M2. The 150 missiles remaining had to be destroyed under treaty terms by 2007. Russia marketed them as the 'Dnepr' commercial launch vehicle.

The missile used a propellant utilisation system to minimise residuals. This gave it a total throw weight of 8.8 tonnes, matching that of the US Peacekeeper (an important issue driving its development). The multiple-warhead version could carry up to 20-36 independently-targeted warheads, although no more than ten were planned in service. They were arranged on a special frame in two 'circles of death'. The post-boost bus had four gimballed chambers, which fired continuously during the warhead dispensing process, making it extremely agile in flight.

The missile was equipped with a completely new set of countermeasures, considered more than adequate to counter America's Strategic Defense Initiative. The inertial guidance system was by Vladimir Sergeyev at NII-692/NPO Kharton. The systems were hardened for improved resistance to nuclear radiation or particle beams - the missile could be launched even after near-hits by enemy nuclear warheads. The entire rocket was encased in a heat shield against blasts or laser. The guidance system was equipped with sensors to detect gamma-rays and neutron fluxes and manoeuvre the missile during ascent away from nuclear explosions.

The development was completed on the guidance/countermeasures system for the single-warhead 15F173 dispenser in July 1987, and for the 15F175 multi-warhead dispenser in April 1988.

Failures: 6. Success Rate: 82.86%. First Fail Date: 1986-03-23. Last Fail Date: 1988-03-18. Standard warhead: 8,800 kg (19,400 lb). Maximum range: 11,000 km (6,000 mi). Number Standard Warheads: 10. Standard RV: 15F173. Warhead yield: 550 KT. CEP: 0.26 km (0.16 mi). Alternate warhead: 8,800 kg (19,400 lb). Maximum range with alternate warhead: 15,000 km (9,000 mi). Number Alternate Warheads: 1. Alternate RV: 15F175. Alternate warhead yield: 20,000 KT. Alternate warhead CEP: 0.26 km (0.16 mi). Boost Propulsion: Storable liquid rocket, N2O4/UDMH. Cruise Thrust: 755.000 kN (169,730 lbf). Cruise Thrust: 77,000 kgf. Cruise engine: RD-0255. Stage 3 Thrust: 34.300 kN (7,711 lbf). Stage 3 Thrust: 3,500 kgf. Initial Operational Capability: 1988. Total Number Built: 190.

AKA: RS-20V; R-36M2; SS-18 Mod.5 and 6; 15A18M2; Voevoda; Satan.
Status: Active.
Gross mass: 211,100 kg (465,300 lb).
Payload: 8,800 kg (19,400 lb).
Height: 35.06 m (115.02 ft).
Diameter: 3.00 m (9.80 ft).
Span: 3.05 m (10.00 ft).
Thrust: 4,452.00 kN (1,000,849 lbf).
Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).
First Launch: 1986.03.23.
Last Launch: 2006.12.21.
Number: 36 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
Associated Spacecraft
  • MicroSat SSTL British technology satellite. 3 launches, 1981.10.06 (CERISE) to 1990.01.22 (Oscar 14). Original version of the Surrey Microsat bus. More...
  • Ekol Russian earth atmosphere satellite. Study 1992. The Lavochkin NPO designed a variety of remote sensing spacecraft based on a new 3-axis controlled satellite bus. More...
  • Megsat Italian communications technology satellite. 2 launches, 1999.04.28 (Megsat-0) and 2000.09.26 (MegSat-1). The first private Italian satellites, Megsats were microsatellites designed to transmit scientific and commercial data. More...
  • UniSat Italian technology satellite. 3 launches, 2000.09.26 (UniSat) to 2004.06.29 (Unisat 3). Experimental satellite developed by the GAUSS (Gruppo di Astrodinamica dell' Universita degli Studi 'la Sapienza') in Roma. More...
  • Saudisat Saudi amateur radio communications satellite. 7 launches, 2000.09.26 (SaudiSat 1A) to 2007.04.17 (Saudisat 2). More...

Associated Engines
  • RD-274 Glushko N2O4/UDMH rocket engine. 4952 kN. Developed 1975-85. Upgrade of RD-264 engine with increased chamber pressure and thrust. Development stopped due to problems with turbopump shaft balance. More...

See also
  • R-36M The super-heavy Ukrainian R-36M ICBM replaced the R-36 in 288 existing silos and was additionally installed in 20 new super-hardened silos. The fall of the Soviet Union ended production and the need for replacement. Nevertheless they remained in Russian service into the 21st Century, some being modified for use as space launchers. More...
  • missile Guided self-propelled military weapon (as opposed to rocket, an unguided self-propelled weapon). More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Yuzhnoye Ukrainian manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Yangel Design Bureau, Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine. More...

Associated Launch Sites
  • Baikonur Russia's largest cosmodrome, the only one used for manned launches and with facilities for the larger Proton, N1, and Energia launch vehicles. The spaceport ended up on foreign soil after the break-up of Soviet Union. The official designations NIIP-5 and GIK-5 are used in official Soviet histories. It was also universally referred to as Tyuratam by both Soviet military staff and engineers, and the US intelligence agencies. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union the Russian Federation has insisted on continued use of the old Soviet 'public' name of Baikonur. In its Kazakh (Kazak) version this is rendered Baykonur. More...
  • Dombarovskiy Headquarters of an RVSN Division, 1964-present. Operated 64 heavy ICBM silos (R-36/R-36M). One silo was modified to launch surplus R-36M missiles as orbital launch vehicles, and used for used for 3 launches from 2004 to 2007. More...

Associated Stages
  • R-36M2-1 N2O4/UDMH propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 161,520/13,620 kg. Thrust 4,523.00 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 318 seconds. Surplus ICBMs; failures based on ICBM tests through 1994. More...
  • R-36M2-2 N2O4/UDMH propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 41,114/4,374 kg. Thrust 760.00 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 340 seconds. Surplus ICBMs; failures based on ICBM tests through 1994. More...
  • R-36M2-3 N2O4/UDMH propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 4,266/2,356 kg. Thrust 18.60 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 317 seconds. Main engine could be throttled to 800 kgf. More...

R-36M2 15A18M Chronology


1986 March 23 - . Launch Site: Baikonur. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: R-36M2 15A18M. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Joint flight trials launch - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 0 km ( mi).

1986 August 21 - . Launch Site: Baikonur. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: R-36M2 15A18M. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Joint flight trials launch - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 0 km ( mi).

1986 November 27 - . Launch Site: Baikonur. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: R-36M2 15A18M. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Joint flight trials launch - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 0 km ( mi).

1987 - . Launch Site: Baikonur. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: R-36M2 15A18M.
  • Joint flight trials launch - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1987 - . Launch Site: Baikonur. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: R-36M2 15A18M.
  • Joint flight trials launch - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1987 - . Launch Site: Baikonur. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: R-36M2 15A18M.
  • Joint flight trials launch - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1987 - . Launch Site: Baikonur. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: R-36M2 15A18M.
  • Joint flight trials launch - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1987 - . Launch Site: Baikonur. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: R-36M2 15A18M.
  • Joint flight trials launch - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1987 - . Launch Site: Baikonur. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: R-36M2 15A18M.
  • Joint flight trials launch - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1987 - . Launch Site: Baikonur. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: R-36M2 15A18M.
  • Joint flight trials launch - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1987 - . Launch Site: Baikonur. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: R-36M2 15A18M.
  • Joint flight trials launch - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1987 - . Launch Site: Baikonur. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: R-36M2 15A18M.
  • Joint flight trials launch - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1987 June 9 - . Launch Site: Baikonur. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: R-36M2 15A18M. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Joint flight trials launch - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 0 km ( mi).

1987 September 30 - . Launch Site: Baikonur. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: R-36M2 15A18M. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Joint flight trials launch - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 0 km ( mi).

1988 - . Launch Site: Baikonur. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: R-36M2 15A18M.
  • Joint flight trials launch - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1988 - . Launch Site: Baikonur. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: R-36M2 15A18M.
  • Joint flight trials launch - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1988 - . Launch Site: Baikonur. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: R-36M2 15A18M.
  • Joint flight trials launch - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1988 - . Launch Site: Baikonur. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: R-36M2 15A18M.
  • Joint flight trials launch - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1988 - . Launch Site: Baikonur. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: R-36M2 15A18M.
  • Joint flight trials launch - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1988 March 18 - . Launch Site: Baikonur. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: R-36M2 15A18M. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Joint flight trials launch - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 0 km ( mi).

1989 - . Launch Site: Baikonur. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: R-36M2 15A18M.
  • Operational missile test - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1989 - . Launch Site: Baikonur. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: R-36M2 15A18M.
  • Operational missile test - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1989 - . Launch Site: Baikonur. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: R-36M2 15A18M.
  • State trials missile test - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1989 - . Launch Site: Baikonur. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: R-36M2 15A18M.
  • State trials missile test - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1989 - . Launch Site: Baikonur. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: R-36M2 15A18M.
  • State trials missile test - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1989 - . Launch Site: Baikonur. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: R-36M2 15A18M.
  • State trials missile test - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1990 August 17 - . 10:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: R-36M2 15A18M.
  • State trials missile test - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1990 August 29 - . 05:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: R-36M2 15A18M.
  • Operational missile test - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1990 December 11 - . 07:40 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: R-36M2 15A18M.
  • Operational missile test - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1991 September 17 - . 10:20 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: R-36M2 15A18M.
  • State trials missile test - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1991 October 10 - . 11:05 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: R-36M2 15A18M.
  • State trials missile test - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1991 November 20 - . 08:05 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: R-36M2 15A18M.
  • Operational missile test - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1991 November 28 - . 07:10 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: R-36M2 15A18M.
  • Operational missile test - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1998 April 15 - . Launch Site: Baikonur. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: R-36M2 15A18M.
  • Dnepr Demo test - . Nation: Russia. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

2004 December 22 - . 08:30 GMT - . Launch Site: Dombarovskiy. LV Family: R-36M. Launch Vehicle: R-36M2 15A18M.
  • R-36M2 ICBM demonstration flight - . Nation: Russia. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi). The sixteen-year old missile was launched from an operational ICBM base and its dummy warheads impacted in the test range on the Kamchatka Peninsula after a 6,000 kilometer flight. The test was touted as a demonstration of use of the surplus ICBM's, launched directly from their silos, for launch of commerical orbital payloads, in lieu of more expensive decommissioning. Others saw it as the beginning of the development of Dombarovskiy into a new spaceport, on Russian soil, in replacement of Baikonur.

2006 December 21 - . 08:20 GMT - . Launch Site: Dombarovskiy. Launch Vehicle: R-36M2 15A18M.
  • OT - . Nation: Russia. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

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