Launch of Topol-E ICBM, Kapustin Yar test site, Russia, 2009
According to the message in Izvestia, the rocket body is lengthened and its configuration is changed. The goal is to accommodate a new type of combat load: with an MFVD IN, equipped with its own engines, which ensure the maneuvering of the MFRHI in the direction and speed after separation from the carrier (according to Izvestia).
In the online journal "Kopyuterra" No. 30 from 19 August 2008, I met an interesting article by Yuri Romanov "The Sword" Voivod ", telling about the development of controlled warheads (UBB) in relation to the heavy liquid ICBM P-36, nicknamed in the west" Satan " The term “managed” in this case, most likely, is inaccurate, yet it should be understood as “homing.” The article is very interesting, so I’ll quote in full…
The most likely unusual, unique and, frankly, creepy domestic combat drone was the UBB, which means Managed Combat Block ...
The events described took place more than a quarter of a century ago; nevertheless, there is every reason to believe that this technique still stands on duty in Russia. Quite possible. We read: "Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov reported to President Vladimir Putin about the successful tests of a fundamentally new warhead for domestic ballistic missiles. This is a combat unit that can maneuver independently, avoiding any missile defense systems. It is important that the new combat unit is unified, that is, adapted for installation both on the Bulava sea rockets and on the Topol-M land rockets. One missile will be capable of carrying up to six such warheads. " Such things are not scattered.
In Soviet times, all the development of controlled warheads for intercontinental missiles was concentrated on two Ukrainian enterprises - in Yuzhnoye Design Bureau, Dnepropetrovsk, and in Elektropribor (today it is JSC Khartron), Kharkov.
After the collapse of the USSR, all the documentation and the entire groundwork of the Ukrainian rocket engineers was handed over to Russia - the Orenburg Machine-Building Plant. This has now become known. And in those years, few people knew who and what is transmitted. Everything has always been very secret in this area ...
What is UBB?
Let me first explain what "just a war block" is. This is a device in which a thermonuclear charge is physically located on board an intercontinental ballistic missile. In the rocket there is the so-called head part, in which there can be one, two or more combat units. If there are several of them, the head part is called a split head (MF).
Inside the FPG there is a very complex unit (it is also called the breeding platform), which, after the launch vehicle leaves the atmosphere, begins to perform a number of programmed actions for individual targeting and separating the military units on it; in space, battle formations are lined up from blocks and false targets, which are originally also on the platform. Thus, each block is displayed on a trajectory that ensures it hits a given target on the surface of the Earth.
Warheads are different. Those that move along ballistic trajectories after separation from the platform are called uncontrollable. Managed warheads after separation begin to "live their lives." They are equipped with orientation engines for maneuvering in space, aerodynamic steering surfaces for controlling the flight in the atmosphere, they have an inertial control system, several computing devices, a radar with its own computer on board ... And, of course, a battle charge.
The first model of this weapons It was big - almost five meters long.
It was an experienced design of a self-guided head, not a combat unit. It was held on the topic "Beacon" and had the index 8Ф678. It was then 1972 year.
And the finished product left the workshops after four years.
The control system was built on the basis of the onboard computer. There were also several radar stations: a homing system with its large antenna, a motion correction system with a side-looking radar with synthetic aperture and a three-beam radio altimeter. To control the movement of the atmosphere, in space, a jet propulsion system using compressed gas was used, and in the atmosphere the moment of control was created by shifting the center of gravity of the head part relative to its axis. By the way, already on this product two ways of determining its position relative to the target were tested: using radio-contrast digital standards and digital terrain maps.
Of course, such a bulky heavy structure does not fit on the FER. But the results of its refinement formed the basis of the next generation project.
It was already UBB, an index in documents 15F178. The unit was developed for the 15А18М rocket of the one that was part of the Voyevoda complex and is also known as the P-36М2 rocket, aka PC-20В, which is, according to the American indexation, SS-18 "Satan", "Satan". The draft design of UBB was ready for 1984.
The block had the shape of a sharp cone about two meters high, the lower part of which, the “skirt”, could deviate in two planes. It was an aerodynamic steering wheel, used in the atmospheric part of the movement. Outside the atmosphere, the block was controlled by the engines of the orientation and stabilization system, and liquid carbon dioxide served as the working medium.
The saturation of the equipment UBB had no equal. A huge density of thought per unit volume, I would say so. In the cone were placed: jet propulsion orientation, mechanics of aerodynamic rudders, stabilization units of the center of pressure, steering actuators, cylinders with a working body, power sources, onboard computer, matching units, a variety of sensors, gyro units, radar units and calculator, cables, and another thermonuclear charge and all its automation and equipment ...
Practically, UBB combined the properties of an unmanned spacecraft and a hypersonic unmanned aircraft. The concept of radio control for such a product is absurd. All actions both in space and during a flight in the atmosphere, this device must perform autonomously.
One on one with a view
After separation from the breeding platform, the warhead flies for a relatively long time at a very high altitude - in space. At this time, the control system of the unit carries out a whole series of reorientations in order to create conditions for accurately determining its own motion parameters, facilitating overcoming the zone of possible nuclear explosions of antimissiles ...
Before entering the upper atmosphere, the on-board computer calculates the necessary orientation of the combat unit and executes it. Approximately in the same period, sessions of determining the actual location with the help of radar are held, for which a number of maneuvers must also be done. Then the locator antenna is shot off, and an atmospheric section of movement begins for the combat unit.
It is this section that seems to have caused the nickname “Satan,” but maybe I am mistaken. The fact is that the aerodynamic properties of the UBB and the capabilities of the onboard motion control system enable it to perform a series of broad maneuvers in the atmosphere with extremely high overloads. Practically, this means the invulnerability of UBB - there is simply nothing to shoot him down in this mode of approaching the target.
All controllability parameters of UBB were tested during testing of test blocks, which were “shot” from Kapyar (Kapustin Yar Polygon) in Balkhash. The first fully operational UBB test launch (without a nuclear warhead) was carried out at the beginning of 1990. Successful trials continued until 1991. Soon work on this product was closed.
Generally speaking, it was not the only UBB project. In 1987, work began on the Albatross complex. This topic was seen as the further development of guided warhead technology. A distinctive feature of the new combat unit was its ability to plan to fly in the atmosphere on the wings, which allowed to approach the target at a relatively low altitude, while actively maneuvering. By 1991, the first products for testing were to appear, but "perestroika processes" soon began, and how it ended, it is not known ...
The main characteristics of MBR P-36 with UBB 15F178:
Status: NIR-OKR, tests 1990-91.
Firing range - up to 15.000 km.
The guidance system is inertial + radar homing.
Starting weight - 211.100 kg.
Head weight - up to 8.800 kg.
Way of basing - silo.
However, the materials presented in the article are not complete data on the development of guided (self-guided) military units that were carried out in the Soviet Union. There were other developments ...
In the USSR in the KBM (Kolomna), a similar unit was developed for marine ballistic missiles. By the way, the created groundwork could well be used to create Iskander-M missile systems (also developed by KBM).
After the design work, theoretical and experimental studies in the 80-s, flight testing of the controlled units on the K65М-Р booster, a total of 28 starts, in the process of which the efficiency and high accuracy of shooting  was confirmed, was carried out in three stages.
About this system 4К18, SLBM R-27K, adopted for trial operation and served as part of the Soviet Navy from 1975 to 1982 years, in detail here -
Anti-ship ballistic missiles long-range
Status: in trial operation 1975-1982.
Firing range - up to 1.100 km.
The guidance system is inertial with passive guidance on ships.
Starting weight - 13.250 kg.
Head weight - 700-800 kg.
Base method - submarine project 605.
Work was carried out on the UBB and in Chelomey V. M. with reference to the ICBM UR100UTTH. Now we can say - including for the BCRC.
Trials - July 1970.
Firing range - 9.200 km.
The guidance system is inertial + radar homing.
Starting weight - 42.200 kg.
Head weight - 750 kg.
The way of basing is coastal silos.
These works at the NPO Mashinostroeniya continued at the beginning of the 2000s in the form of unconventional use of ICBMs with controlled blocks.
The NPO Mashinostroeniya, together with TsNIIMASH, proposed for the 2000-2003 years to create the Prizyv rocket-space ambulance system based on ICBM UR-100NUTTX (SS-19) to provide emergency assistance to maritime vessels in distress in the world’s ocean.
As a payload on the rocket, it is proposed to install special aerospace rescue aircraft, ALS-1 and ALS-2. At the same time, the speed of delivery of an emergency kit can be from 15 minutes to 1,5 hours, landing accuracy + 20-30 meters, and 420 and 2500 cargo weight, depending on the type of ALS. (A.V. Karpenko, BTC “Bastion”, August 2013).
Talking about UBB, it is necessary to mention the work on the subject "Aero".
Р-17ВТО "Aero" (8К14-1Ф) - with detachable head and optical homing head on the final part of the trajectory, developed by Central Research Institute of Aviation Safety, tested in 1979-1989, NATO code - SS-1e “Scud D”. The complex was put into trial operation under the name 9K72-1 in 1990.
Since 1967, the specialists of the Central Research Institute of Automation and Hydraulics (TsNIIAG) and NPO Hydraulics have been working on the creation of photo-model guidance systems.
Specialists TSNIIAG with their offspring - the head of the rocket with an optical homing head
The essence of this idea is that an aerial photograph of the target is loaded into the homing head and that, having entered a given area, it is induced with the help of an appropriate calculator and the built-in video system. According to the results of research, the “Aerophone” GOS was created. Due to the complexity of the project, the first test launch of the P-17 rocket with such a system took place only in the 1977 year. The first three test runs at a distance of 300 kilometers were completed successfully, conditional targets were hit with a deviation of several meters. From 1983 to 1986, the second stage of testing went through - another eight starts. At the end of the second stage, state tests began. The 22 start-up, most of which ended with the defeat of a conventional goal, became the reason for recommending that the Aerophone complex be put into trial operation.
The main characteristics of the P-17WTO "Aero" (8K14-1F):
Condition: trial operation, testing - 1977-86
Firing range - 50-300 km.
The guidance system is inertial + homing on the opto-image.
Starting weight - 5.862 kg.
The method of basing - PGRK.
The scheme of combat use of operational-tactical missiles with optical homing head
An optical reconnaissance satellite (1) or a reconnaissance aircraft (2) take a snapshot of the proposed stationary target location (3), after which the image is transmitted to the control panel (4) to identify the target; then the image of the terrain is digitized with the designation of the target location (5), after which it is inserted into the onboard computer of the head part of the tactical missile (6); The launcher (7) launches, after the active part of the flight, the head of the rocket is separated (8) and flies along a ballistic trajectory, then, according to the inertial system and altimeter, an optical homing head is switched on, which scans the area with a digital standard (9) is aimed at the target with the help of aerodynamic control surfaces and hits it.
In 1990, the military personnel of the 22 Rocket Brigade of the Belarusian Military District went to Kapustin Yar to get acquainted with the new complex, called 9K72O. A little later, several copies were sent to the brigade units. There is no information about trial operation, moreover, according to different sources, the 22-I brigade was disbanded ahead of the expected date of transfer of missile complexes. According to reports, all unused missiles and equipment systems are in storage .
The Aerofon development work ended successfully in 1989. But the research of scientists did not end there, so it’s too early to sum up the final results. It is difficult to say how the fate of this development will develop in the future, another thing is clear: it allowed to study the principles of creating high-precision weapons systems, to see their strengths and weaknesses, and in passing - to make a lot of discoveries and inventions that are already being introduced both in the military and in civil production .
As we see, in the Soviet Union a substantial reserve was accumulated in the field of creating UBB. The withdrawal of our partners from the ABM Treaty now allows us to open wide the doors to the creation of such systems. Both the means to break through missile defense, and to increase the accuracy of destruction of stationary and mobile targets, including self-guided BCPR for striking the AUG ...
According to fragmentary information from open sources, these works are not forgotten, and UBB development is underway! So, over time, we may learn that the first missiles with UBB stood on combat duty and it does not matter in which implementation - in the form of ICBMs on submarines or PGRK. This will also include a decent asymmetric response and against AUG of potential opponents. Bravo, Russia!
1. About rocket mythology. Army Gazette
2. Half a century of the Elbrus 9K72 rocket complex. Military Review.
3. The history of creating one of the country's first precision weapons system. Military Review.