Encyclopedia Astronautica
RT-23



rt23umw.jpg
RT-23U
ss242ukr.jpg
SS-24
Credit: Ukrainian Space Agency
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SS-24
Credit: Ukrainian Space Agency
rt23laun.jpg
RT-23
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.

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 authorised development of both silo and mobile versions, with a total missile mass of 100 to 150 tonnes. 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.

Success Rate: 100.00%. Launch data is: incomplete.

Status: Retired 2003.
First Launch: 1982.01.01.
Last Launch: 1998.12.09.
Number: 20 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
Associated Engines
  • 15D206 Yuzhnoye solid rocket engine. RT-23 early models stage I. Out of Production. The case-bound T9-BK composite solid propellant charge had a star shape channel. The case was of organic fibre-wound plastic material. More...
  • 15D305 Yuzhnoye, Tsurilnikov solid rocket engine. RT-23 stage I. Out of Production. Case-bound OPAL composite solid propellant charge with a star shape channel. The case was of organic fibre-wound plastic material. More...
  • 15D339 Yuzhnoye. Tsurilnikov solid rocket engine. RT-23 stage II. Out of Production. The case-bound START composite solid propellant charge had a cylindrical-conical umbrella shape channel. The case was of organic fibre-wound plastic material. More...
  • RD-866 Yuzhnoye N2O4/UDMH rocket engine. 5.2 kN. RT-23 MIRV-bus. Out of Production. Isp=305s. Engine consisted of two turbopumps with gas generators and two feeders; a single chamber main engine; and 16 liquid thrusters for attitude control and translation. More...

See also
  • RT-23 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. 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...

Bibliography
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Pervov, Mikhail, Raketnoye Oruzhiye RVSN, Violanta, Moscow, 1999..
  • Karpenko, A V, Utkin, A F and Popov,A D, Otechestvenniye strategischeskiye raketnoye kompleks, Sankt-Peterburg: Nevskii bastion; Gangut 1999..

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