AKA: 15Zh45UTTKh;RSD-10;Saber;SS-20 Mod 1 and Mod 2;SS-20 Mod 2. Status: Retired 1988. First Launch: 1979-01-01. Last Launch: 1988-12-29. Number: 14 . Payload: 600 kg (1,320 lb).
The Pioner UTTKh IRBM was given the expanded mission of destruction of every enemy rocket launcher in Europe and China, plus the destruction of key enemy facilities such as air and naval bases and control bunkers. The original Pioner could only dispense its multiple warheads to a limited degree, since it used the warhead dispenser designed for the much longer-range Temp-2S ICBM. Therefore an improved version was planned. This would use greater-diameter motors to increase payload, and a new equipment section and MIRV bus to hit widely-spaced targets with a single missile. The missile would also have longer range, allowing it to be based nearly anywhere in the Soviet Union and still hit targets on the periphery of the Eurasian land mass.
The decree to proceed with development was issued on 19 July 1977. A flight trials series of ten launches was conducted at Kapustin Yar from 10 August 1979 to 14 August 1980. The missile was accepted by the military on 23 April 1981. The first regiment was activated at Yurya in Kirov oblast. The missiles were kept at a high state of readiness. A great number were kept constantly on the move on field alert patrols, the rest in open shelters from which they could be driven away to unknowable field firing positions at a moment's notice. The missile was deployed with incredible rapidity in the face of the bellicose Reagan administration -- 180 launchers by the end of 1981, 300 by 1983, 405 launchers in 58 regiments by 1986, and the final total of 605 missiles and 509 launchers in 1987. Rocket divisions were home-based at Irkutsk, Novosibirsk, Kansk, Gladkaya, Barnaul, Pskov, Yurya, Nizhniy Tagil, Drovyanaya, Romny, Belokorovichi, Lutsk, Lida, Mozyr, Postavy, Kansk, and Pruzhany. Two thirds of the launchers were targeted on NATO and the Middle East, the rest the Far East and South Asia.
Just as this deployment reached its frenzied peak, the new Soviet administration signed the INF Treaty with the Americans on 8 December 1987. This pledged the Soviets and Americans (though not the French) to destroy all their intermediate range missiles in Europe. This included the Pioner, the Temp-S, the Oka, and RK-55 cruise missile. Russia declared 728 completed Pioner missiles, of which 650 were operational (405 in position ready to launch and 245 in arsenals). In addition there were 42 inert test rockets and 36 in production. A total of 405 operational and 104 non-operational launchers had been completed.
The first 72 rockets were launched to destruction between 26 August and 29 December 1988 at Drovyanaya and Kansk. The remainder were sent to Kapustin Yar for less spectacular demolition in the steppes. This was completed on 12 July 1991, by which time the Soviet Union itself had ceased to exist.
The Pioner had an outstanding operational record, validating finally Korolev's conclusion thirty years earlier that only solid propellant rockets were truly fit for military use. Over its fifteen year life there were 190 launches of Pioners of all types, including the 72 liquidation launches, without a single failure.
Maximum range: 5,500 km (3,400 mi). CEP: 0.55 km (0.34 mi).