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R-36 (SS-18 Satan)

Intercontinental ballistic missile

R-36 (SS-18 Satan) ICBM

The SS-18 Satan is the worlds heaviest and most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile

R-36M2 Voevoda (SS-18 Mod 6)
Entered service 1988
Basing Silo-based
Missile length 34.3 m
Missile diameter 3 m
Launch weight 211.1 t
Number of MIRVs 10
Warhead yield 0.8 - 1 MT
Range of fire 11 000 km
CEP 200 m


   The R-36 (NATO designation SS-9 Scarp) was the first model of the whole R-36 family of Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles. First cold-launch tests were conducted in January 1971. This version, called Mod 1, was able to carry single nuclear warhead with blast yield of 18-25 MT, and it had a range of 11 200 km.

   Later the R-36 missile evolved into the R-36M (SS-18 Satan), capable of carrying a MIRV payload of 10 warheads. Each with 550-750 kT yield. It could also carry a single warhead of up to 20 MT. Development of this missile began in 1969. The first test launch was made in 1973. First batch of 56 missiles were deployed in 1977, but were later replaced by more modern Mod 3 and Mod 4 variants.

   All variants of the Satan are silo-launched. Silos are located in dispersed locations. The silo launcher and command point are hardened against a nuclear explosion.

   This ICBM 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.

   The SS-18 Satan 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 penetration aids. So this missile is hard to intercept. According to Western intelligence data from late '80s, Soviets were able to destroy 70-80 percent of US ICBM silos during first strike, and after that, they would 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.

   Russia is 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 Missiles that age past their designed operational lifetime are being withdrawn.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 are R-36MUTTKh and R-36M2 variants. About 40 missiles are having their service life extended in order to remain operational until 2019. These missiles are being gradually phased out of service, in favor of more modern systems like MIRV-equipped Topol-M, RS-24 Yars, and RS-26 Rubezh, that is currently being developed.

   Several missiles have been modified for commercial launch from silos. These carry lightweight satellites.




   R-36M (SS-18 Mod 1). This missile had a single 18 MT warhead or warhead with 8 MIRVs (4 x 0.4 MT and 4 x 1 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;

   R-36M (SS-18 Mod 2). This missile had a warhead with 10 MIRVs with a blast yield of 0.4 MT. It had a range of 10 200 km with a CEP of 700 m. Only 10 of these missiles were deployed between 1976 and 1980;

   R-36M (SS-18 Mod 3) was an upgrade of the Mod 1, carrying a single reentry 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 between 1976 and 1986;

   R-36MUTTKh (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. 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;

   R-36MUTTKh (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;

   R-36M2 Voevoda (SS-18 Mod 6). It was first deployed in 1988. It was deployed in both single warhead and with 10 MIRVs with a blast yield of 0.75-1 MT. 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.


Savo Ukropina

   Article by SAVO UKROPINA

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Video of the R-36 (SS-18 Satan) ICBM

R-36 (SS-18 Satan) ICBM

R-36 (SS-18 Satan) ICBM

R-36 (SS-18 Satan) ICBM

R-36 (SS-18 Satan) ICBM

R-36 (SS-18 Satan) ICBM

R-36 (SS-18 Satan) ICBM

R-36 (SS-18 Satan) ICBM

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