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A-135 / ABM-3

By June 1975 it was already possible to clearly define the purpose and time periods of development and creation of the new Moscow ABM system. A.G. Basistov became the general designer. V.K. Sloka was the chief designer of the multifunctional Don-2NP [PILL BOX] radar. A.G. Basistov headed the Council of Chief Designers, who were working on a new effective ABM system.

This system, the ABM-3, became operational at Moscow in 1989. Five new launcher sites were constructed, and two Galosh sites were converted for the new system. The Moscow Industrial Area ABM Defense System (A-135) was accepted on alert duty by presidential edict of 17 February 1995. The Moscow anti-ballistic missile system, known as A-135, includes the full complement of 100 interceptor missiles permitted by the treaty [though published reports provide conflicting accounts as to the exact number of missiles]. The system includes three dozen long-range SH-11 Gorgon missiles, as well as over five dozen short-range SH-08 Gazelle missiles, which are quick-reaction, high-acceleration interceptors. Both types of interceptors are silo-launched.

According to some reports, it is claimed that this system was taken off-line in December 1997 and remained inactive, although this does not appear to be confirmed by recent American statements on this subject. In February 1998 the commander in chief of the Strategic Rocket Forces -- Colonel General Vladimir Yakovlev -- said that the system needed some minor modifications, After these were completed, however, the "nuclear umbrella" over Moscow would once again be opened, he said. A few days later, Col. Gen. Vladimir Yakovlev, commander-in-chief of strategic missiles forces, said the ABM system with conventional warheads on the Galoshs and Gazelles, was combat ready and would shortly be placed on 24-hour alert status. This suggested that Russia had abandoned plans to employ nuclear warheads on SH-11 Galosh and SH-08 Gazelle missiles. Experts had warned of the potential damage to Moscow, saying the detonation of a single warhead could contaminate a 77 square mile area.

The ABM-3 incorporated several improvements over the Galosh. Mechanically steered radars were replaced by much more capable phased-array radars. And two types of interceptor missiles were used, taking advantage of atmospheric bulk filtering to discriminate decoys from actual warheads. The interceptors were deployed in underground silos to reduce their vulnerability to direct attack. Nonetheless, the ABM-3 was the technological equivalent the U.S. Sentinel/Safeguard ABM, and clearly shared the major limitations and vulnerabilities of that system.

The components of the ABM-3 include:

* 32-36 of the SH-11 long-range exo-atmospheric interceptor missiles, which are somewhat smaller than the massive Galosh and is probably three-stage solid-fuel rocket with a range of 300-400 kilometers and a multi-megaton warhead.

* 64-68 of the SH-08 short-range endo-atmospheric interceptors, which are a two-stage solid-fuel with a range of about 100 kilometers and a low-yield nuclear warhead. It is similar in design and mission to the U.S. Sprint missile, although its maximum acceleration is reportedly significantly lower. In at least one test of the SH-08 short-range ABM interceptor, two interceptors were fired from a single launcher in an interval of two hours, although no reloading equipment was observed in the area. No other details on this incident have come to light. Given the short battle-time available to ABM systems, two hours does not seem to be particularly "rapid".

* The ABM-3 phased-array short-range battle management radar replaced Try Add radars at Moscow ABM sites to support SH-08 interceptors It is similar in function to American Missile Site Radar, although smaller and less capable.

* The Pushkino large battle-management phased-array radar constructed near Moscow provides 360 degree coverage and will supplement Dog House and Cat House radars in supporting SH-04 long range interceptors.

* The Pechora-type bi-static phased-array early warning radar supplemented the Hen House radars. Deployment began in the late 1970's at seven sites: Pechora, Lyaki, Mishelevka, Olenegorsk, Sary Shagan, Kamchatka and Abalakova.



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