INVISIBLE "GOOD WAY"
The development of a railway-based missile system based on RTB-23UTTH type ICBMs was specified in accordance with the Resolution of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the USSR Council of Ministers on 9 August 1983 of the year. And at the same time, the creation of stationary (mine) and mobile ground-based complexes based on this rocket was also asked. The latter was never created, but the presence of a mine-based option subsequently played a cruel joke with the BZHRK: by and large, its liquidation did not occur because the missile train itself had to be destroyed, but because the missile standing on it had to be eliminated.
The head designer of the BZHRK was the Dnepropetrovsk Design Bureau (KB) Yuzhnoye, and the Utkin brothers became its chief designers: Vladimir Fedorovich from Yuzhnoye Design Bureau was responsible for creating the rocket, and Aleksey Fedorovich, who worked at the Leningrad Design Bureau of Special Engineering (KBSM) responsible for the design of the launch complex and cars for the rocket train.
In November, 1982, the draft design of the RT-23UTTH and BZHRK rocket was developed with advanced railway launchers. The complex provided the ability to perform rocket firing from any point of the route, including electrified railways, for which it had a high-precision navigation system, and its launchers were equipped with special shorting and retraction devices for the contact network. At the same time, as indicated in the national literature on the history of BZHRK, Alexey Utkin managed to find a unique solution to the “problem of transferring large mass loads to the railway bed during the operation of BZHRK complexes”.
The Molodets combat railway missile system was put into service on November 28 1989 of the year, and the first complex started combat duty even earlier - October 20 on the 1987 of the year. The production of intercontinental ballistic missiles of the RT-23UTTH type was carried out at the Pavlograd Mechanical Plant (PO Yuzhmash). During the 1987 – 1991 period, 12 complexes were built, and the number of missiles launched was about 100.
Rocket trains were deployed in three regions of the country, and, interestingly, due to the huge mass of cars - launchers of special trains - within 1500 radius of km from the bases of the latter, the embankments of the railway had to be reinforced with more dense gravel stone, lay heavier rails, and replaced wooden sleepers on concrete, etc.
It can be said that the creation of BZHRK to a certain extent had a positive effect on the development of the country's railway network. However, the size of the cost of creating a missile system and ensuring its operation was simply enormous. But the situation of that time - the Cold War - demanded it.
In light of the warming of relations between the USSR and the West, since the 1991, rocket trains began to take combat duty at points of permanent dislocation — the patrols took place on a strictly limited route, without going to the country’s railway network. Then, according to the START-2 agreement, the country agreed to eliminate all RT-23UTTH missiles. What was done. Trains were disposed of during the 2003 – 2007 period (the last BZHRK was removed from combat duty in the 2005 year).
Rocket trains are not a new topic. Moreover, the pioneers here, as well as a number of other classes of weapons, have become the US military. For the first time, they attempted to acquire a combat railway complex at their disposal as early as the 1960s, during the implementation of the ambitious program to create a new solid-fuel ICBM “Minuteman”.
In the summer of 1960, as part of the theoretical study of this issue, the US Department of Defense carried out Operation Big Star, during which prototypes of future rocket trains secretly moved along American railways. The experience was considered successful, and next year they prepared a draft, as well as a prototype "BZHRK in American style" with five ICBMs. It was planned to put the first such train on duty in 1962 year, and the entire Air Force intended to launch 30 trains with 150 missiles in the country. But in the summer of 1961, the project was closed due to its high cost - mine “minutemen” turned out to be cheaper, simpler, and more reliable (see the article “Good for you” in American style - unsuccessful debut ”in this issue of HBO).
In 1986, the idea of a rocket train again took possession of the Pentagon, but already as part of the creation of a new heavy ICBR "Piper", also known as the MX. The train, called Peacekeeper Rail Garrison (“Railway Garrison with Peacekeeper” missiles), was supposed to carry two missiles, each with a divided warhead with 10 warheads of individual guidance. From 1992, it was planned to put 25 of such trains on combat duty. The prototype was tested in 1990 year, but a year later the main enemy was not - the Soviet Union, and therefore, to receive "peacetime dividends", the United States launched a program under the knife (it was possible to save 2,16 billion dollars in this way only by purchasing the first seven trains).
But the idea in America, as well as in Russia, turned out to be surprisingly tenacious. Thus, in the framework of the “Analysis of Alternatives” on the further development of the ground grouping of national strategic nuclear forces, completed in 2014, the American specialists considered, among others, the so-called “mobile option”, which included the development of a new ICBM as part of a mobile missile strategic ground or rail missile complex home base. Moreover, the “tunnel version” was also considered - the creation of a strategic missile complex based underground in specially constructed tunnels and moving along them. However, the cost of creating such complexes in the end was recognized too expensive, even for the huge military budget of the United States.
NEW TRAIN- "GHOST"
The Russian military-political leadership also did not remain indifferent to the idea of a rocket train. To discuss the issue of the need to create a replacement for the Molodtsu that was disposed of and sent to the museums became almost from the day the last BZhRK was removed from combat duty.
The development of the new complex, known as “Barguzin”, was launched in Russia in 2012, although as early as June 2010, a patent issued by the Federal State Unitary Enterprise “Central Design Bureau“ Titan ”for the invention, designated as the“ Launcher for launching and launching ” placed in a railway carriage or on a transport and launch container platform. " The Moscow Institute of Heat Engineering, the creator of Topol, Yars and the Bulava, became the lead performer of the BZHRK.
In December of 2015, the commander of the Strategic Missile Forces, Colonel-General Sergei Karakaev, said that "preliminary design has been completed, working design documentation for the units and systems of the complex is being developed." “Of course, with the revival of BZhRK, all the latest developments in the field of combat missile topics will be taken into account,” emphasized Sergey Karakaev. “The Barguzin complex will significantly exceed its predecessor in terms of accuracy, missile range and other characteristics, which will allow this complex to be part of the Strategic Missile Forces for many years, at least until 2040,”
“Thus, in the Strategic Missile Forces, a group will be recreated on the basis of three types of home-based missile systems: mine, mobile soil and railway, which proved to be highly effective in the Soviet years,” the Interfax news agency commander commanded the Strategic Missile Forces.
In November of the next, 2016, the first ICBM launch tests for a promising rocket train were successfully passed. “The first throwing tests took place at the Plesetsk cosmodrome two weeks ago. They are recognized as fully successful, which opens the way for the start of flight design tests, ”the Interfax news agency quoted the interlocutor as saying. Representatives of the Ministry of Defense and the military-industrial complex of the Russian Federation were very optimistic, they reported that a report was scheduled for 2017 to Russian President Vladimir Putin on the prospects for deploying the Barguzin complex and the start of flight tests of the missile designed for it.
And suddenly - the unexpected news that the "topic is closed" at least for the near future. What is even more remarkable: in the case of official confirmation of this decision, this will be the first case of stopping - temporarily or permanently - work in the field of strategic nuclear weapons, which, we recall, are considered by the Russian military-political leadership as the main guarantor of the country's security against aggression of any adversary, due to than for their development resources are allocated in priority order.
So what's the deal? Just in a banal shortage of funds in the current difficult economic situation, or has the approach to the development of Russia's strategic nuclear forces changed? To answer this question, it is necessary to consider the main features of the BZHRK.
THE SITUATION HAS CHANGED
The main goal of creating the Molodets BZHRK was the striving of the Soviet military-political leadership to increase the power and effectiveness of the grouping of a retaliatory / retaliatory missile strike in conditions of tough confrontation with the countries-members of the NATO military-political bloc, and first of all the United States. To solve this problem was possible due to the high secrecy of the actions of BZHRK, which was ensured by the following circumstances:
- The factual closeness of the country to foreigners, which significantly limited the ability to organize continuous monitoring of areas of possible deployment and patrols of rocket trains (and Soviet citizens were also largely limited to visiting several districts and cities of the country);
- the lack of the ability for the armed forces and special services of a potential enemy to conduct air (aviation) reconnaissance of the territory of their interest in the depths of the Soviet Union, which was due to the high efficiency of the air defense system created by that time;
- significant restrictions on the conduct of round-the-clock space reconnaissance of objects on the territory of the USSR, which, in turn, was due to the poor development of radar ground observation devices placed on board spacecraft (satellites) of the appropriate purpose and only capable of providing all-weather and twenty-four-hour monitoring of areas of interest for intelligence probable adversary (the most common optical and infrared surveillance tools are Coy possible not given);
- the underdevelopment of high-precision air attack weapons, primarily such as relatively small-sized unobtrusive cruise missiles of various types of basing, intended for strikes against ground targets located deep in the territory of the enemy, and capable of flying in a rounding mode of terrain (not to mention corrected and guided long-range bombs and, even more, hypersonic aircraft);
- the absence of such international treaties in the field of control over strategic offensive arms, which in one way or another limited the operation of such missile systems.
However, today the situation in this area has changed in the most radical way, significantly reducing or even completely leveling many of the advantages of rocket trains, and first of all - their secrecy.
First, the country has become open and free to move practically throughout its entire territory both for its citizens and foreign guests (provided, of course, that the latter freely entered Russia).
Secondly, modern means of space reconnaissance include spacecraft equipped with highly efficient radar detection devices that are able to conduct all-weather round-the-clock monitoring of the BZhRK deployment areas known from the exchange of relevant information under various international treaties or revealed as a result of various reconnaissance activities (and when determining the classification features of a rocket train and knowing its location, monitoring it can to install just hard).
Thirdly, a high-quality leap was made by precision-guided aerospace attacks, which, with appropriate target designation and targeting, could easily destroy an object such as a BZHRK. He doesn’t even need to be destroyed, the main thing is to prevent him from performing rocket shooting.
And in the study of the American corporation RAND from 2014, it is indicated that the rocket train also has the following significant drawbacks: more complex maintenance; the possibility of natural (snow, landslides) and artificial (sabotage, accidents) blocking of the railway track; limited set of routes for movement; lower survivability compared to mine complexes (when detected by the enemy, BZHRK can be considered destroyed).
Moreover, according to the set of treaties in the field of limiting strategic armaments to which Russia is a party, the operation of the BZhRK is literally trapped in the grip of numerous restrictions that do not allow the full realization of their entire unique combat potential. And most importantly - it does not allow to achieve stealth patrols. If a rocket train has to travel only along a certain route or routes in its area of deployment, and even regularly demonstrate itself to airborne and space-based surveillance equipment of foreign “controllers,” what kind of secrecy can we talk about? And this is perhaps the most important advantage of the BZhRK, without which the very concept of a rocket train loses its meaning (although, we emphasize this, there is no prohibition on the creation of such rocket complexes).
Of course, all these “controllers” can be removed with one stroke of the pen - to withdraw from these treaties, thereby removing any restrictions from themselves, but two superpowers did not allow themselves such even in the hottest periods of the Cold War. Not to mention the fact that there is also an undercover intelligence of our potential "friends", and the spy satellites are not going anywhere. Is it possible to disguise them? This is a big question.
Finally, we must not forget that the invisibility of the rocket train and the inability to distinguish it from ordinary freight trains is a myth. Do not believe? In confirmation, let us cite the words of the commander of the Strategic Missile Forces, Colonel-General Sergey Karakaev, told to journalists in December 2013. According to him, the first generation BZHRK car was quite different from the refrigerator car, under which it was masked. “It was longer, heavier, the number of wheelsets was greater. No matter how he was hid, if BZhRK was parked, any expert could determine that this was not a national economy train, ”the RIA Novosti news agency quoted the general as saying. The carriage of the train, according to Sergey Karakaev, can be disguised more successfully, although experts on railway rolling stock have questioned this thesis as well. Moreover, even if it succeeds, then where to put such a unmasking attribute, like several locomotives in the head of a short “special train,” is unclear.
As a result, it seems that the creation of a BZHRK as a means of retaliatory or reciprocal counter-strikes becomes a very dubious undertaking. In this regard, it is noteworthy that back in February 2011, in an interview with the weekly MIC Yuri Solomonov, chief designer of the Moscow Institute of Thermal Engineering, said: “In fact, the survivability of the mobile soil and railway complexes is almost the same. Most recently, we just won a competition on this topic, but I was a supporter of the decision to not deploy full-scale work on BZHRK. First, here we are talking not so much about missiles, but about the type of basing, which is associated with the necessary costs for the reconstruction of the military infrastructure, which is now completely destroyed. This is a lot of money, and they will potentially add nothing to the combat effectiveness of our SNF. Moreover, BZHRK has a fundamental flaw in modern conditions: low anti-terrorism resistance. This is a vulnerable point of the railway complex, and it significantly reduces its combat capabilities. "
So, maybe, it is more expedient to allocate additional funds for mobile ground-based missile systems or for a new heavy intercontinental ballistic missile Sarmat?