This military facility, hidden in deep forests of Nizhny Novgorod, is not something that is not marked on the maps - there is no mention of it in any official source. On the territory of 1 thousand hectares everything is stored together and separately that may be needed in case of a nuclear missile war.
From Nizhny Novgorod to the pointer “Far Konstantinovo-5” - 70 km. But in reality such a settlement does not exist in nature. True, in the nearest village of Surovatikha, which gave the same name to the top secret arsenal of the Strategic Missile Forces, everyone knows what it is about. Almost half of local residents are civilian personnel employed by the military unit for strategic needs. But finding out something interesting about the features of the work will not work - all questions will be forwarded to people in uniform. And entry to a strictly guarded object only by special passes - and they are issued in Moscow long before the visit - as a visa, only to a non-existent state.
Wolfmen eat mice
The Arsenal of the Strategic Missile Forces began to be created in the 54 year - five years before the appearance of the troops themselves. The plants then began to produce rocket weapons, and for the time being somewhere all this had to be stored. We chose the most deaf places: impassable forests and swamps for hundreds of kilometers around. In just one year, they drained and leveled the site for the world's largest repository of intercontinental ballistic missiles and military equipment.
“We didn’t even know where they were directing us,” said Valery Ageev, a veteran of the Strategic Missile Forces, who had served in the arsenal for almost a quarter of a century. - In the documents of graduates of military universities was the address "Moscow - 400". And someone even went to serve in the "autotractor enterprise."
- Was there a lot of work in those years?
- Through the arsenal passed hundreds of missiles - from the very first copies of the German "V-2" to heavy intercontinental. The secrecy was terrible! Worked for days. But mostly at night. Unloading, loading, sending. From here, the famous royal "sevens" of the P-7 were transported to Baikonur. At one of these, Yuri Gagarin went into space. Here, a narrow-gauge railway was made for small rockets, and when the G-7s arrived, they had to expand the gates of the vaults and lay a wide rut. During the Caribbean crisis, of course, I had to be very nervous.
- What, seriously preparing for a nuclear war?
- Of course, we understood what it was. Probably like no other. But after all, what a thing — if real military actions had happened — we would be the first to be hit. After all, there are no bunkers, dungeons and equipped shelters. We are at a glance. And all the time at gunpoint.
The first commander of the arsenal was appointed general with the characteristic surname Wolfhound. Veterans about him still remember with grateful awe. But he did not last long. The reasons for his dismissal for many years were legends. The truth turned out to be much smaller than the most ambitious speculation about the intrigues of enemies. Diversion happened where they did not expect.
During the preparation of one of the combat missiles to be sent to the troops, working cables gnawed the mice, removing weapon out of service. The wolfhound was fired, and the mousetraps with pieces of bacon have since been in every corner. Anti-mouse protection - abbreviated AMZ - is required to check inspections.
IF TOMORROW WAR
The area where there are hangars and storage, on the perimeter is surrounded by a triple cordon of security. The system has been repeatedly upgraded and improved. And now there are sensors, sensors, video surveillance everywhere. Moreover, the cameras react to any movement on the territory - starting to record what is happening online during the movement. A high voltage current is connected to the barrier. The most frequent troublemakers are foxes and moose. Attempts to lay new trails each time end, as the military say, "barbecue". But there were cases with human victims. A few years ago, builders from neighboring republics worked here for hire. Two of them conceived not to suffer for a long walk to the gate - they simply decided to fly over the fence, which looked like a netting net. Then, when forensic scientists arrived, there was nothing to photograph, in fact, all that was left of the poor fellows was a piece of the skull and a fragment of a boot. Burned out at work. Down to the ground.
To bypass all objects, it will take several days. And in no storage there is no free space. Some of the premises resembles auto repair shops. On the shelves and racks - from the floor to the ceiling brand new items, carefully wrapped in parchment. Each has its own number and labeling. Next door is a car wash. Trucks khaki labeled "NZ" poured from hoses and something all the time, twist under the hood. In fact, these are combat duty support vehicles. When mobile launch complexes with a missile go to the launch site, they are accompanied by a whole convoy - communications, security, command post. All - on wheels.
In the missile shield, each bolt is on a special account. In the event of war, you can collect more than one launcher or mobile complex and send it to the starting point on the first order. So, everything should be on the go.
Including rocket train. The trains literally gird around the territory - like giant headless snakes. It looks like ordinary freight trains and trailed passenger cars. Lieutenant Dmitry Stasenkin invites us to one of these.
- All our trains are disguised as civilians. And the convoy accompanying the rocket to the troops, goes here in such a passenger. Here we have a kitchen, here is a shower, weapons are stored in these boxes.
“And how long can a train like this last?”
- I had a business trip - we were taking Topol to the Plesetsk cosmodrome - 80 days. This, together with the road and with work.
Engineers on strategic trains never know what they are driving. And escort officers do not know where they are going. At prescribed stops envelopes are opened, where the next destination is written. Something that resembles a “quest” or “lightning” - only the rules are written in the depths of the General Staff and no one knows the end. After all, an order for a combat, not a training start, can be received at any minute.
Now only the intercontinental ballistic missiles RS-12M - Topol are stored in the arsenal. Each - separate apartments, disguised as forest hills. To get to the rocket itself - you first need to walk a hundred meters through an underground tunnel and, before stepping over the threshold of the repository, you must fulfill one mandatory condition.
“Please fulfill the safety requirement,” said Colonel Georgy Radulov, head of the arsenal, “put your hand on this metal plate to relieve static electricity.
Each Poplar is stored in special conditions, as in an incubator. Constant temperature plus 27, humidity control special devices. How many such "Topol" in our strategic bins, the military do not say.
“By agreement with the United States, the number of missiles is a strictly defined figure,” says Colonel Radulov. - American inspectors constantly come to us. Here a month ago it was in this room that they worked.
How many "Topol" in these hangars, knows a limited circle of persons.
Let Americans, of course, not everywhere. For example, the stands where ICBMs are tested are so secret that a certain group of the military and industry representatives work with them under special tolerances. If something is wrong, this is a state of emergency. Defective detail urgently change and correct errors - everything must be constantly ready for battle. Dead weight here is nothing. Every few years, a rocket stored at the arsenal is selectively allowed from the Plesetsk cosmodrome. If the launch is successful, our ICBMs extend the service life.
And failures for the whole history has never been before. Periodically, the entire staff of the arsenal plays a conventional war. After all, the main purpose - on the first order in a limited time to advance to the place of "X". I didn’t meet the educational standard, consider, as in that joke about “staff reduction,” this territory is no longer on the map.
In 90-s, an impressive part of the arsenal was converted to the base of eliminating the most powerful weapons on Earth - the heavy intercontinental RS-20 missiles, nicknamed the "Satan" in the West, in our country - the "Voivode". For rocket men, this is the most painful topic. Devilish devil carries up to 10 nuclear warheads, flies to almost any point on the planet, and even goes into space. She is still in the ranks of the Strategic Missile Forces. How many of them now stands still waiting for their time in the mines is also a military secret. But under the treaty on the reduction of strategic offensive arms through the efforts of the Americans, Satan was recorded number one. They did not stint, generously paying for the work on its “burial” - they sponsored the purchase of necessary equipment and from time to time send senators to observe the recycling process.
A missile is considered destroyed if it is freed from fuel residues, removed from the transport and launch container and cut into pieces. The missiles come from military units already "dry", but, as a rule, from 10 to 200 l remains. The fuel is neutralized, the rocket is freed from cables, control units and other things and sawn. Recently, the disposal base was reassigned to Roskosmos. But the rocket men got a gold-bearing vein in the literal sense.
- From one rocket it turns out about 4 kg of pure gold, more than 100 kg of silver.
The head of the dismantling department, Alexey Adyarov, is holding a chip from the Satan control unit. On a thin plate in several rows like honeycombs in a beehive are gold and platinum plates. How much to hang in grams is a strategic question. All that is extracted from the filling of the rocket - recycled defense value. The most valuable - rare earth and precious metals. Manually, with pliers and tongs, they will pull out everything, count to the last golden speck of dust. And then give to the State Fund. Something melted into ingots, but something will go to the new warheads.
“Last year our arsenal earned 15 millions of rubles,” says Alexey Adyarov. - Part of this money, of course, fell through and we have much to invest.
About where the earnings go, can be seen with the naked eye. In the military camp, time seems to have stopped behind barbed wire somewhere at the start of 60's. On the main street, wooden two-storey buildings of barrack type with boarded up windows, with collapsed roofs and walls still cannot live out their age. The inhabitants of emergency housing were resettled, but it was worth a lot to destroy to the base and build new houses. But on the officer's salary earned is not exactly reflected.
“We don’t have any bonus payments,” says Arsenal Commander Colonel Georgy Radulov. - The famous "400-th order" of the Minister of Defense does not concern us in any way. For example, before New Year, I received 26 thousand rubles. Promised, of course, with the new year more. Let's see what will happen.
But for the residents of Surovatikhi, recycled materials of strategic importance were completely free. Architectural features of the village surprised everyone who was here for the first time. Sometimes it even starts to seem like it is a large-scale art project dedicated to the cold war era. But it is hardly possible for designers to repeat the idea at some international biennale. After all, the most popular material here is fragments of mines and special containers of intercontinental ballistic missiles.
- Isn't it scary? - I ask the local resident Nikolai Goryachev, picking something at the foot of the fountain, made of the facing of the missile mine. The remains of the frame from the shell of "Satan" went to the design of a private farm. The whole creation resembles either a nuclear mushroom, or a radar, detecting the launches of rockets from somewhere in space. An alien theme is reinforced by a flashing web of Christmas garland flashing with a poisonous blue-green color.
“No, it's not scary,” he replies, without even asking again what it is about. - We've been checked here several times. They come with devices, all measure something.
- Do you know what the fountain is made of?
- Of course - it's from the PC-20 rocket. Yes, we have nothing to do here. There's a neighbor my whole garage made from a solid case from a rocket container.
The garage is really impressive - a huge barrel-shaped stainless steel structure. And a number of summer souls are also clearly from something strategic-intercontinental. Local craftsmen make gates, cellars and swimming pools from rocket waste. And the pensioner Mina Moiseeva in the garden has a canopy from a piece of “satanic” plating. Inside there is a woodpile, a table and a circular saw. The woman says that valuable material found in the nearby forest even 10 years ago.
- The material is durable, does not rust - does not flow. They drove a tractor - then my husband was still alive - she was very heavy - they picked up and drove.
- Not toxic?
- Not. We were checked from Nizhny Novgorod.
Even in Surovatikha, the parts that were written off were adapted for stable reception of the television signal and designer chimneys. And the former nose of the rocket went to the fungus for the playground. Terrible weapons are still on defense. Now - from rain and snow.