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SSC-8

Long-range cruise missile system

SSC-8 (or SSC-X-8) cruise missile system

The SSC-8 system carries nuclear-tipped missiles with a range of around 2 000-2 500 km

 
 
Country of origin Russia
Entered service 2018
Crew 3 men
Dimensions and weight
Number of missiles 4
Weight ~ 40 t
Length 13.25 m
Width 3.51 m
Height 3.94 m
Missile
Missile length (including booster) ~ 8 m
Missile diameter 0.53 m
Wing span ~ 3 m
Missile weight ~ 2 300 kg
Warhead weight 400 ~ 500 kg
Warhead type Nuclear
Range 2 000 ~ 2 500 (?)
CEP ~ 5 m
Mobility
Engine YaMZ-846 diesel
Engine power 500 hp
Maximum road speed 70 km/h
Range 1 000 km
Maneuverability
Gradient 45%
Side slope 30%
Vertical step ~ 0.6 m
Trench 2 m
Fording 1.4 m

 

   Recently a new land attack cruise missile system was developed in Russia. Its exact Russian designation is unknown, though its reporting name in the West is SSC-8 or Screwdriver. During development it was known as SSC-X-8. This system uses 9M728 and 9M729 long-range cruise missiles with nuclear warheads. The formulaic "9M" indicates that these are Army ground-launched missiles. Development of this weapon was kept in high secrecy, though Western intelligence knew about this project. This new cruise missile system was reportedly fielded in 2018. In 2019, after years of denials, Russia acknowledged existence of this new nuclear missile. This cruise missile system was first publicly revealed in 2019. By early 2019 Russia reportedly operated at least 64 9M729 cruise missiles and a number of associated launched vehicles. Development and fielding of this missile violated the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (or INF treaty), which prohibited ground-launched missiles with ranges between 500 and 5 500 km. This led the United States to withdraw from the treaty.

   The SSC-8 can be seen as a successor to the RK-55 Relief (Western reporting name SSC-X-4 or Slingshot), which was a Soviet counterpart of the BGM-109G Gryphon. Production of the RK-55 Relief had only just begun when the 1987 INF treaty was ratified. Only 80 missiles were completed, none of which were deployed by the time of their destruction in compliance with the arms control treaty.

   The new SSC-8 has many features of the cancelled SSC-X-4. The SSC-8 made its first test launch in 2008. The 9M729 missile passed state trials in 2014. In 2015 it was reportedly launched at ranges exceeding 500 km range governed by the INF treaty.

   Launcher vehicle is based on MZKT-7930 special high mobility chassis with 8x8 configuration. Externally it looks like launcher vehicle of Iskander or Iskander-K systems, that are used by the Russian Army, but its missile compartment at the rear is higher, as it carries 4 missiles instead of 2. It is broadly similar to the launcher vehicle of the Club-M (Kalibr-M) coastal defense missile system. In 2016 Russia planned to obtain 8 Belarusian MZKT-7930 special high mobility vehicles in order to carry these new missiles. It was planned that 4 vehicles will be outfitted as missile launchers and another 4 will be outfitted as resupply vehicles to carry reload missiles.

   The launcher vehicle of the SSC-8 can carry at four 9M728 or 9M729 missiles.

   In 2019 the United States demanded that Russia would destroy its 9M729 missiles together with associated launcher vehicles. Otherwise the United States will leave the INF treaty and design and field their own new-generation ground-launched intermediate-range ballistic missiles. Eventually Russia refused to comply, and the United States left the treaty.

   In concept this new system resembles the Iskander-K ground-launched cruise missile system, which is used by the Russian Army, as it is based on a similar high mobility wheeled chassis with 8x8 configuration. Though this new system uses more capable 9M729 missiles with much longer range. The Iskander launchers can carry various missiles. In 2013 it was reported that 5 types of missiles were already developed for the Iskander, and 3 more missiles were still being developed. One of these missiles was the 9M729.

   The 9M729 is essentially a ground-launched version of the sea-launched 3M-14 cruise missile, used by Kalibr-NK system. These Russian sea-launched missiles were recently used against targets in Syria. Both missiles not only look similar, but are made by the same Novator company. The new 9M729 missile can be also seen as an improved version of the 9M728 missile, which is already used by the Russian Iskander-K system. It has modified warhead and guidance systems. The 9M728 missile is also called the R-500 and is known in the West as SSC-7. Russians claim that the 9M728 missile has a range of 490 km, while the new 9M729 has a range of 480 km. Though the United States insist that claimed 480 km range is false ant that Russia already tested this missile at ranges exceeding 480 km. Some sources report that the 9M729 potentially might have a range of around 2 000-2 500 km. There are even assessments that this missile could actually have a range of up to 5 500 km. Russian officials have long said they could extend the reach of their Iskander systems with little difficulty.

   This missile was designed to carry a low-yield nuclear warhead. It could have a yield of around 10-50 kT. There might be also a conventional warhead with around 500 kg of explosives, as well as cluster, fuel-air explosive, and bunker-busting warheads. Though the 9M729 was built from the start as a nuclear weapon. This missile can destroy important enemy targets, such as concentrations of troops and armored vehicles, air defense batteries, supply depots, industrial installations, airfields, command centers and so on.

   A booster propels the missile from its container. In flight the wings are deployed. This cruise missile has a flight altitude of up to 6 km and follows terrain. In terminal phased it descends to a low altitude  or around 50-150 meters and maneuvers in order to overcome air defense systems.

   This missile has an astro-inertial navigation, but can also receive Russian GLONASS satellite navigation system update. The missile has a CEP of just around 5 meters. Most likely that these missiles are capable of hitting moving targets, as target coordinates can be adjusted while the missile is in-flight. Each missile can be targeted independently.

   Launcher vehicle of the 9M729 cruise missile if based on a Belarusian MZKT-7930 special high mobility vehicle. Vehicle is powered by the YaMZ-846 diesel engine, developing 500 hp. It can travel off-road and over difficult terrain. This vehicle can be airlifted by the An-124 transport aircraft.

   The launcher vehicle is operated by a crew of 3.

   Each launcher vehicle is supporter by an associated resupply vehicle. It carries reload missiles and is fitted with a crane. It is also based on a similar 8x8 high mobility chassis. Though it seems that resupply vehicle is different than that used by Iskander and Iskander-K systems.

 

 

SSC-8 (or SSC-X-8) cruise missile system

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SSC-8 (or SSC-X-8) cruise missile system

Expand image

SSC-8 (or SSC-X-8) cruise missile system

Expand image

SSC-8 (or SSC-X-8) cruise missile system

Expand image

SSC-8 (or SSC-X-8) cruise missile system

Expand image

SSC-8 (or SSC-X-8) cruise missile system

Expand image

SSC-8 (or SSC-X-8) cruise missile system

Expand image

SSC-8 (or SSC-X-8) cruise missile system

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