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Tomorrow Is Rocket Troops and Artillery Day
Something Born To Fly Crawls out of the Forest

Moscow ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA 18 Nov 95 pp 1, 3
by Lieutenant Colonel Ilshat Baychurin

If such a train designated by a letter rushes past you with a weighty rumble, do not be in a hurry to claim that you have "seen lots" of such things. This train really does not differ from thousands of its brothers in either its external appearance or its color. But only a few specialists initiated into top military secrets know that beneath the train's external "civilian" camouflage is concealed a formidable force called the railroad combat missile system.

After the end of the "Cold War" and the establishment of trusting relations between the former potential enemies our country no longer makes any particular secret of the existence of railroad combat missile systems. Even some specifications and performance characteristics of the system have been made public. It is now known, for example, that a nuclear armored train consists of several launchers for RS- 22 ICBM's with multiple reentry vehicles called SS- 24 in the West, or Scalpel. The Scalpel's launch weight has also been revealed. It stands at just over 100 tonnes, and the missile's range is approximately 10,000 km.

For comparison, let us point out that the analogous U.S. MX missile is inferior to the Russian one in terms of many parameters, including launch mass. The RS-22 is 23.8 meters long and has a diameter of 2.4 meters. Each missile has 10 reentry vehicles. Most importantly, the accuracy of the nuclear warhead's hitting the prescribed target is, as missilemen say, "on the peg," i.e. a "bull's eye." Maybe this is why the Americans nicknamed this missile the Scalpel.

Each railroad combat missile system is designed for lengthy autonomous performance of alert duty on patrol routes. In addition to the cars where the missiles themselves are hidden, the railroad train has cars which accommodate a dining room and a mobile kitchen. One of the cars is earmarked for rest time for personnel not on alert duty. It consists of the compartments to which we are accustomed, the only difference being that they contain additional built-in third berths and a foyer with a television set and tables for board games. In addition, there are air conditioners and a shower. Provision is also made for a technical maintenance car.

As regards the personnel of the railroad missile complex, each serviceman has a strictly defined range of official duties. Great responsibility is entrusted to the combat launch crew, but those who ensure the working of the harmonious mechanism of this unique train of its kind also have a hard time. The people who are responsible for the train's movement, communications, guarding, and for material and medical provision for the missile-carrying train perform particularly strenuous service. Considering that the trains are designed for lengthy autonomous movement, success depends on the quality of everyone's work.

It is hardly necessary to demonstrate that a multitonne train with such a specific load must be driven by professionals of the highest caliber. Therefore the engineers are mainly officers who are aces at their trade. There has not been a single accident or disaster in the whole history of the railroad combat missile complexes' existence.

The formidable missile trains are now practically immobile. The point is that, in accordance with the treaty signed by Gorbachev and Reagan five years ago, in peacetime the railroad combat missile complexes may maneuver over an area of only a few square kilometers. But the missiles can be launched from any point on the route.

The missilemen confirmed their high level of combat readiness in the last end-of-training-period performance evaluation. They successfully fulfill the tasks of performing alert duty, demonstrating that the formidable weapons are in safe hands.


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