The Soviet Land-Based Ballistic Missile Program, 1945-1972: An Historical Overview, 1973

The Soviet Land-Based Ballistic Missile Program, 1945-1972: An Historical Overview, 1973


Although this document has been released prior to my Mandatory Declassification Review (MDR) request, there has been quite a bit more released (ie: no longer redacted).

I requested this in October of 2016, and received this reviewed copy on 30 May 2017.

According to the document:

Before and during World War II, the Germans had developed a variety of missile systems. At the end of the war, they stood alone in the numbers and complexity of these systems. Some were used during the war with varying degrees of effectiveness; others were evolving when the war ended. Many of these missile systems, and the scientists who had developed them, were acquired by the Soviets after the war, permitting the USSR to quickly establish its own missile program.

At first the Soviets attempted to keep the missile-related facilities intact on German soil, using German scientists to the maximum extent possible while Soviet counterparts were gaining familiarity in a new field. Later, the Germans, and most of the missile-related facilities, were sent to the USSR, where work continued under Soviet control.

The V-2, a German rocket used operationally late in the war, was the system most extensively studied and emulated by the Soviets. It was the first such missile tested in the USSR, inaugurating the opening in 1947 of the Soviet Union’s first missile test range at Kapustin Yar. Reflections of its design were seen years later in the evolving Soviet missile program. Other missiles, and missile-related systems and subsystems, also fell into Soviet hands after the war; they too provided the Soviets with technology and hardware that would serve them well in later years.

By 1953, most of the Germans had departed the USSR, and subsequent developments were by and large the result of indigenous Soviet programs planned, engineered, developed, and produced by Soviet personnel. In 1957, the USSR successfully tested its first ICBM, and by the early 1960s it had available a variety of ballistic missiles, from short-range ones to those capable of· covering intercontinental distances. By this time, three additional major test ranges were operational or evolving, and the Soviets had launched earth satellites into orbit. They had also successfully conducted planetary probes, and they had launched the first man into space.

By the early 1970s, further significant developments had occurred in the Soviet. missile effort. By this time, the Soviet Union had a major land-based ballistic missile force in being, capable of achieving ranges up to 7,000 nautical miles or more. Refinements in guidance and control systems saw missile accuracy improve steadily. Yields of nuclear warheads of deployed missiles varied up to 25 megatons. Multiple reentry vehicles, penetration aids, and multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles had evolved or were evolving by this time. Hardened, dispersed silos had come into widespread use, and mobile missile systems, mainly for tactical use, had been deployed in large numbers.

In the early 1970s, tests began of newer-generation missiles, further enhancing the Soviet Union’s capabilities in this area. Incorporating refinements in a number of significant areas, these newer missiles, coupled with the older ones, provide the Soviet Union with an effective weapons mix. Thus, from the early German assistance, from technology gleaned from Western sources, and through its own efforts, it can be seen that the USSR progressed steadily throughout -the years in the missile field, culminating in its advanced systems of today. Just as the Soviets were embarking on a new and unfamiliar field in these early years, so did the Sigint establishment find itself faced with a new and unfamiliar . problem. Organizations had to be built from nothing; personnel had to be trained; facilities and systems had to be developed; and a fragmented effort had to be streamlined and centralized.

To further complicate the problem, · the main inter.est of the U.S. Comint establishment after World War II concerned ·communications signals, in particular those transmitted in the HF band and below. Equipment, systems, and facilities were not available to adequately handle telemetry signals – from fast-moving missiles propagated in higher frequency bands.

Declassified Document

 The Soviet Land-Based Ballistic Missile Program, 1945-1972: An Historical Overview, 1973 [136 Pages, 15.8MB]



, , ,