Since 1958, KB-1, under the leadership of Grigori Vasilievich Kisunko, has been working on the A-35 missile defense system project. This system, according to the technical requirements, was supposed to include a lot of objects for various purposes, from radar detection stations to interceptor missiles. In addition, new ballistic missiles were being developed at that time. At the beginning of the sixties, a project was launched for an ICBM of the type UR-100, which was developed by OKB-52 under the leadership of Vladimir Nikolaevich Chelomey. It was he who proposed to combine two promising directions in one project.
In the early sixties, it became known that the United States plans to build and put on order about a thousand launch complexes of ICBM type LGM-30 Minuteman. The systems of anti-missile defense developed at that time allowed in theory to repel a small enemy strike, but the launch of several hundred missiles would have guaranteed to penetrate such protection. By the beginning of 1963, there was a proposal to develop an alternative missile defense system that could effectively intercept a large number of enemy missiles.
The general scheme of the complex "Taran". Figure Militaryrussia.ru
Prior to the start of 1963, the military and industry formed requirements for a promising lightweight ICBM that could be manufactured and used in large quantities. In the course of these works, a new original proposal was sounded. The head of OKB-52 V.N. Chelomey proposed to develop a universal missile that could be used both for striking attacks and for defending against an enemy attack. In addition to such a rocket, some other objects were to enter the missile defense system, and most of them should not have been developed and built from scratch.
The principle of operation of a promising missile defense system was quite simple. The stations of the rocket attack warning system RO-1 (Murmansk) and RO-2 (Riga) should monitor the situation. In the event of a missile launch from the territory of the United States, these objects will have to transmit information to the multi-channel radar station TsSO-P (Central Interception Detection Station), whose task will be to detect incoming missiles and the subsequent management of antimissiles. As the latter, it was proposed to use a special modification of the intercontinental ballistic UR-100, the development of which was to begin in the near future.
The UR-100 in the interceptor missile version should have had some differences from the basic shock version. Both modifications were supposed to use mine launchers and transport and launch containers. At the same time, however, it was necessary to apply different methods of guidance related to the range of tasks to be solved. In this case, the anti-missile was supposed to go into the pre-calculated area, the so-called. prolonged meeting point, and there to produce undermining of the warhead, hitting the enemy’s combat units located nearby. For effective destruction of targets, it was proposed to use a new monoblock warhead with a power of 10 megatons.
A promising project of a missile defense system based on a new intercontinental missile received the code name "Taran". Under this title, the project was offered to the leadership of the armed forces and the country.
According to the technical proposal for the “Taran” project, a promising missile defense system was to consist of several elements. It should have included several radar detection of missile attacks, as well as the central station CSO-P, whose task was to escort targets and control of interceptor missiles. Finally, the main element of the missile defense system turned out to be anti-missiles on the basis of the UR-100, equipped with the corresponding guidance systems in high-power warheads and placed in the mine launchers.
It was assumed that such a system would make it possible to promptly detect the attack of a potential enemy, calculate the trajectories of the flight of his missiles and hit them before approaching a dangerous distance. In the event of a breakthrough of individual missiles or warheads, zone defense systems, such as the C-225, had to be connected to work. Preliminary calculations have shown that the proposed architecture of the missile defense system will allow solving the tasks posed, and will also provide certain advantages over other systems, for example А-35.
One of the main tasks of the Taran project was to create radar systems, as well as target tracking and interception control tools. It was necessary to ensure a high target detection range and high data processing speed. At the same time, there was a theoretical possibility to a certain extent to simplify such work. It was assumed that the 10-megaton warhead will destroy the warheads of enemy missiles at a considerable distance. This made it possible to reduce the requirements for hit accuracy, and also, as stated, did not require the selection of targets and strike at the entire “cloud” containing real warheads and false targets.
Project V.N. Chelomey allowed to simplify the first stages of building a new missile defense system. So, interceptor missiles could be placed on the same bases as the shock systems, and the only element of the complex that needs to be built from scratch was the Central Interception Detection Station. This object was proposed to be built in 500 km north of Moscow, in the rocket-hazard direction. Such a location of the station made it possible to monitor the intended area of the passage of enemy missiles and make timely detection of threats.
The author of the new idea was V.N. Chelomey. In addition, the project "Taran" interested Alexander Lvovich Mints, who headed the Radio Engineering Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences. The institute was engaged in the creation of new radio-electronic systems and in the future could create the required electronic components of a rocket or a TsSO-P station. In addition, A.L. For some time Mintz was actively engaged in research of interception in “prolonged meeting points”.
V.N. Chelomeyu and A.L. Mintsa was able to convince military leaders of the need to start work on a promising project. The result of this was the decision of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of 30 March 1963. In accordance with this document, the OKB-52 and a number of related enterprises were to develop an intercontinental silo-based ballistic missile UR-100, as well as its anti-missile version for the Taran complex. Chief Designer MBR UR-100 was appointed VN. Chelomey, while for the creation of the entire missile defense system was responsible A.L. Mints Joint tests "Tarana" should begin in the fourth quarter of the year 1964.
After the release of the resolution, preliminary work began. Before the start of a full-fledged design, it was necessary to conduct a number of important studies, including checking the fundamental possibility of implementing some principles. For example, it was found that the standard control system of a promising ICBM will not be able to ensure proper operation when intercepting enemy missiles. For this reason, a new control system is required that is compatible with other units. To solve this problem, the Research Institute of Automation and Instrument Engineering, who studied the possibility of replacing control systems and installing new equipment in the shortest possible time, was attracted to the Taran project. It was planned to spend no more than a day on similar re-equipment of the serial missile UR-100.
In the shock configuration, the UR-100 rocket was supposed to be equipped with an inertial guidance system, providing a flight along a predetermined trajectory. The interceptor missile was planned to be equipped with more sophisticated guidance systems. In most of the trajectory, the inertial system was to control the flight. It was also necessary to envisage a radio command system with which the ground-based means of the complex could correct the trajectory of the anti-missile missile system and direct it to the meeting point.
To equip the anti-missile missiles, it was also required to create a new warhead with a power of about 10 Mt in TNT equivalent. Such a combat unit was to be equipped with appropriate detonation systems that ensure the destruction of targets at a specified point in the trajectory.
With the exception of the new warhead and other guidance systems, the UR-100 in the interceptor version should not differ from the intercontinental modification. With a launch mass of about 41,4 T, the rocket was supposed to have a length of 16,9 m and a diameter of 2 m. The design of the rocket was divided into two stages with its own engines. It was proposed to equip the first stage with an RD-0216 liquid engine, the second - 8D423. Both engines were supposed to use asymmetric dimethyl hydrazine and tetraoxide diazoto placed in ampulized tanks.
According to reports, due to the use of a new warhead, which was supposed to lead to a reduction in fuel reserves, the UR-100 in the interceptor version had a smaller estimated range. Flight range was determined at the level of 2000 km, flight altitude - up to 700 km. Such flight data could impose certain restrictions on the placement of antimissiles.
Until the end of 1963, enterprises and organizations involved in the project managed to carry out a number of works and prepare some documentation. Later, when the Taran project could move to a new stage, technical, administrative and even conceptual problems appeared. One of the first strikes on the project was the calculations of Mstislav Vsevolodovich Keldysh. He calculated that, with the stated characteristics, the Taran complex would be distinguished by a significant expenditure of antimissiles. So, in order to intercept 100 of American ICBMs of the Minuteman type, two hundred SD-100 will be needed in the appropriate configuration. In other words, 200 explosions with a capacity of 10 Mt each will occur over the territory of the USSR or in the nearest areas.
Such prospects looked doubtful at once for several reasons. Calculations have shown that in order to reliably repel a nuclear missile strike with all deployed US missiles, we will need several thousand Taran interceptors. Also, the prospect of several hundreds or thousands of nuclear explosions over its territory did not please anyone. Thus, the project was questionable from both an economic and security point of view.
The second blow to the project was the change of power. One of the supporters of the Taran project was Nikita Sergeevich Khrushchev, who in 1964 was sent on a well-deserved rest. Having lost the support of the head of state, V.N. Chelomey and A.L. Mintz could not fully continue to work. The assistance of some leaders of the armed forces, who considered the Taran system as a full-fledged means of state protection, did not help them either.
Later V.N. Chelomey revealed another problem of the project. The key element of the missile defense complex was the station for detecting and tracking targets. These objects, which were of particular importance for missile defense, were vulnerable to enemy weapons. Providing adequate protection was not possible, because of which even single missed missiles could make the whole complex useless.
In the context of the “Taran” project, the memories of G.V. Kisunko, engaged in the development of another project of the missile defense system. KB-1, headed by G.V. Since the late fifties, Kisunko has been involved in the creation of the A-35 project. In 1963, the A-35 project had a serious competitor in the face of Taran. In his memoirs, “The Secret Zone: Confessions of the General Designer”, the head of KB-1 revealed his version of events, which is a real drama with intrigues and hidden struggle.
According to G.V. Kisunko, the proposal for the “Taran” project was associated with the desire of individual responsible persons to take a promising direction and get all the associated privileges. For example, he argued that the emergence of such a project would allow RTI and its leader, A.L. Mintsu monopolize the direction of long-range radar systems. In addition, unreasonable hopes for a high-power combat unit will make it possible to abandon the development of complex target selection systems. As a result, the “evil genius” A.L. Mintz intended to solve a number of his problems with the help of cooperation with OKB-52.
In the future, preliminary work on the project "Taran" led to negative results. G.V. In his memoirs, Kisunko recalls that the start of work on the “Taran” struck other developments in the field of missile defense. So, many bosses from Moscow pointed out to the heads of the factories involved in the program that project A-35 would soon be closed and therefore not worth much attention. Because of this, the work was hampered, and later it was necessary to spend valuable time to restore the required production and communication between enterprises.
The project manager A-35 in the book “The Secret Zone: Confession of the General Designer” gives very interesting facts about the development of the “Taran” complex and the events connected with it. However, one cannot ignore the fact that Taran and A-35 have been competitors for some time. As a result, interpretations of events and the selection of facts to cover the situation may not be completely objective. However, even taking into account such difficulties, the story of the chief designer of missile defense systems looks extremely interesting, and also reveals some details of the events of half a century range.
As already mentioned, in 1964, the Taran project faced serious difficulties. The construction of the proposed missile defense proved to be extremely difficult and costly. It was necessary not only to develop a number of new systems, but also to deploy a huge number of interceptor missiles. In addition, building anti-missiles should be without prejudice to the production of unified ICBMs with them. The further fate was also affected by the loss of support from the country's leadership and various engineering problems.
Due to the lack of real prospects, the Taran project was closed by the end of 1964. According to some data, its development ceased in accordance with the order of the leadership of the armed forces and the country, while according to others, the work slowed down and then stopped completely. Anyway, only the "combat" version of the ballistic missile UR-100, carrying a nuclear warhead to destroy enemy targets, entered service. Due to numerous difficulties, the new rocket was put into service only in June 1967.
The “Taran” project remained at the stage of preliminary work. After the formation of the overall appearance of the complex and the elaboration of the main details of the project, its main disadvantages were identified. The specific shortcomings of the proposed idea, as well as the potential difficulties with its implementation, made the continuation of work meaningless. The full-fledged design of the Taran missile defense system did not start. He remained at the stage of the first studies and studies.
After the final closure of the Taran project, it was decided to concentrate all efforts on the development of anti-missile defense on the А-35 program. The work on this project, despite all the difficulties, went with constant success. In 1963-64, the KB-1 and related companies conducted tests of the first version of the interceptor missiles, then presented a new interceptor missile, and in the year 1971 completed all checks of the complex. In the fall of 1971, the A-35 complex was put on alert. Further development of the national missile defense was based on the development of the first A-35 project.
According to some information, in the eighties, a project of a missile defense system was again proposed, similar to the closed “Taran”. In this case, such a system was offered as a response to the US Strategic Defense Initiative. The results of the previous project clearly showed the prospects of such missile defense systems, which is why the new proposal did not receive any support from military or government officials. The idea of intercepting ballistic missiles with the help of modified similar products was finally rejected.
Kisunko G.V. Secret zone: Confession of the general designer. - M .: Contemporary, 1996
The head of the memoirs G.V. Kisunko on the opposition of A-35 and Tarana: