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RT-23 15Zh52

Ukrainian intercontinental ballistic missile. A draft project of the 15Zh52 MIRV train-based version of the RT-23 was completed in June 1980. The system was designed to allow the mobile launchers to conduct long-duration deployments up to 200 km from base.

A Special Trials Unit at Plesetsk began testing of the system on 20 July 1982, with launches beginning a year later. A 10 February 1983 decree ordered development and production of a modernised RT-23UTTKh with MIRV capability and a more economical train system. However the test system had demonstrated three mobile deployments up to 1500 km from base.

The rocket was cold-launched from its transport/storage container by a powdered gas charge. All three stages used single-nozzle monolithic solid motors. Stage one used gas injection for thrust vectoring, stages 2 and 3 used aerodynamic vanes and nose swivelling for control. A post-boost bus with a liquid propellant motor dispensed the warheads.

The 3D65 first stage was taken from that designed by Yuzhnoye for the Makeyev R-39 SLBM. Development had begun in September 1973, with static tests beginning in January 1980. Series production of all stages for both the RT-23 and R-39 were undertaken by the Pavlograd Mechanical Factory with Zhukov at NII-125 providing the solid rocket motors. The guidance was by Vladimir Lapygin of NII AP. The bus could deploy a mix of warheads and countermeasures to confuse enemy defence systems. The ground-based missile control systems were developed by Aksyutin and Leontenkov at TsKB TM. The systems were subject to a unique electromagnetic interference requirement due to the electric railway.

The Soviets were particularly proud to have developed and deployed the RT-23 train-launched ICBM. The Americans had also pursued such a system repeatedly over the years, but never achieved it.

Standard warhead: 3,200 kg (7,000 lb). Maximum range: 10,000 km (6,000 mi). Number Standard Warheads: 1. Warhead yield: 1,000 KT. Boost Propulsion: Solid rocket. Initial Operational Capability: 1982.

AKA: RS-22; SS-24 Mod 2; 15Zh52; PL-04; Scalpel.
Gross mass: 95,000 kg (209,000 lb).
Payload: 3,200 kg (7,000 lb).
Height: 23.80 m (78.00 ft).
Diameter: 2.40 m (7.80 ft).
Span: 2.40 m (7.80 ft).
Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).
First Launch: 1984.01.18.
Number: 1 .

More... - Chronology...

Associated Countries
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...

Associated Launch Sites
  • Plesetsk Plesetsk was the Soviet Union's northern cosmodrome, used for polar orbit launches of mainly military satellites, and was at one time the busiest launch centre in the world. The collapse of the Soviet Union put the main launch site of Baikonur in Kazakh territory. It now seems that once the Proton rocket is retired, Baikonur will be abandoned and Plesetsk will be Russia's primary launch centre. Upgrades to existing launch facilities will allow advanced versions of the Soyuz rocket and the new Angara launch vehicle to be launched from Plesetsk. Plesetsk's major drawback was the lower net payload in geosynchronous orbit from a northern latitude launch site. However Russia is planning to remove the disadvantage by looping geosynchronous satellites around the moon, using lunar gravity to make the necessary orbital plane change. More...

Associated Stages
  • 15D339 Solid propellant rocket stage. Loaded mass 25,000 kg. Thrust 1,050.00 kN. More...
  • R-39-1 Solid propellant rocket stage. Loaded mass 53,700 kg. Thrust 2,060.00 kN. More...
  • RT-23-3 N2O4/UDMH propellant rocket stage. Loaded mass 15,000 kg. Thrust 206.00 kN. More...

RT-23 15Zh52 Chronology

1984 January 18 - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. Launch Complex: Plesetsk LC163. LV Family: RT-23. Launch Vehicle: RT-23 15Zh52. LV Configuration: RT-23 15Zh52 15Zh52.
  • rail - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

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