R-36M2 Voevoda (SS-18 Mod 6 Satan)
Country of origin
Number of MIRVs
0.8 - 1 MT
Range of fire
11 000 km
The R-36 was
a Soviet Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). It was
designated by the West as SS-9 Scarp. It was the first model that
eventually evolved into a whole R-36 family of Soviet ICBMs. First
cold-launch tests of the R-36 missile were conducted in January 1971. This
called the Mod.1, was able to carry a single nuclear warhead with a blast
yield of 18-25 MT. This missile had a range of 11 200 km. Later the
R-36 evolved into the improved R-36M (Western designation SS-18 Satan), capable of carrying a MIRV
payload of 10 warheads. Each with 550-750 kT yield. The R-36M
missile could also
carry a single warhead of up to 20 MT. Development of this missile
began in 1969. Its first test launch was made in 1973. A first batch of 56 missiles
was deployed in 1977, but these were later replaced by more modern Mod.3
and Mod.4 versions.
of the Satan are silo-launched. Silos are located in dispersed
locations. The silo launcher and command point are hardened against
a nuclear explosion.
has two stages. Missile is equipped with liquid rocket engines,
using storable propellants. Missile is stored in a tubular
storage/launch container. Upon launch the missile is shot out of the
container. The main engine is ignited tens of meters above the
ground. Throughout the years the Satan missile proved to be
reliable, as most launches were successful.
The R-36M is
able to employ multiple trajectories over the North Pole or South
Pole, in order to reach targets in the United States.
The R-36M is a very capable missile, mainly because of its high speed
and extremely high throw weight. It can carry up to 10 MIRVs and up
to 40 decoys. So this missile is hard to intercept. These decoys
would appear as warheads for anti-ballistic missile systems,
requiring engagement of additional targets and rendering defenses
According to Western intelligence data from
late 1980s, Soviets were able to destroy 70-80 percent of US ICBM
silos during first strike, and after that, they would still have 1 000+
warheads left to attack other US targets. Some sources report that a
single SS-18 missile with MIRVs can completely destroy 3 US states,
such as Maryland, Vermont and Rhode Island. However it is considered
that the dated R-36M missile may not modern anti-ballistic missile
steadily decreasing the number of active Satan missiles. Missiles
that age past their designed operational lifetime are being
withdrawn. By 2009 only 59 missiles remained in service. These were
the latest R-36MUTTKh and R-36M2 variants. Around 40 missiles had their
service life extended in order to remain operational until 2019,
until the new RS-28 Sarmat (SS-X-30) becomes operations.
The R-39M missiles are being gradually phased out of service, in
favor of more modern systems like MIRV-equipped
and the new RS-26 Rubezh,
that was planned to be deployed in 2016.
A number of
missiles were been modified for commercial launches from silos.
These converted missiles are known as Dnepr and
carry lightweight commercial satellites. It was a joint Russian and
Ukrainian program. Between 1999 and 2015 a total of 22 Dnepr
launches were made (21 successful). However in 2015,
after the annexation of Crimea and Russia's military involvement in
Ukraine this has been suspended.
Mod.1). This missile had a single 18 MT warhead or alternatively
could carry 8 re-entry vehicles (4x400 kT and 4x1 MT). It had a range of 11 200 km and a CEP of 700 m. A total of 148 missiles were deployed between 1974 and 1983.
Mod.2). This missile carried 10 MIRVs with a blast yield
of 0.4 MT each. It had a range of 10 200 km and a CEP of 700 m. Only 10
of these missiles were deployed between 1976 and 1980.
Mod.3) was an upgrade of the Mod.1, carrying a single re-entry
vehicle with blast yield of 25 MT. This missile had a range of 16
000 km and a CEP of 700 m. It was deployed operationally between 1976 and 1986.
(SS-18 Mod.4). The "UTTKh" designation stands for "improved tactical
and technical characteristics". This missile introduced lighter
weight MIRV warheads. Western intelligence suggests that it could
carry as much as 14 MIRVs, but Russians denied that,
saying that Mod 4 is capable of carrying 10 independent warheads
with a blast yield of 0.5 MT each. This missile has a range of 11 000 km
and a CEP of 370 m. It was deployed in large numbers. A total of 278
missiles were deployed between 1979 and 2005.
(SS-18 Mod.5). This missile had a single 20 MT warhead. It had a
range of 16 000 km and a CEP of 200 m. It was deployed since 1986. A
total of 30 missiles were deployed. All of them were
retired by 2009.
Voevoda (SS-18 Mod.6). It was first deployed in 1988. It was
deployed both with single warhead configuration and with 10 MIRVs with a blast yield
of 0.75-1 MT each. This missile has a range of 11 000 km with a CEP of
220 m. A total of 58 missile were deployed. This missile is still in
service with the Russian Strategic Missile Forces.
(SS-X-30 Satan 2) is a new Russian silo-based ICBM, that is currently being
developed. Its development commenced in 2009. It is planned that
this missile will be deployed in around 2020 and will completely
replace in service surviving Satan missiles. The first image of the
RS-28 Sarmat was declassified in 2016. It looks that he RS-29 has
many design features of the R-36M and might be actually an evolution
of the R-36M, rather than a completely new design. This ballistic
missile will have some warhead options. It will carry 10 MIRVs with
a blast yield of 0.75 MT each. Alternatively it can carry 16 smaller MIRVs,
or up to 24 YU-74 hypersonic boost-glide vehicles. It is the first
Russian missile capable of deploying these highly maneuverable
Article by SAVO UKROPINA
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