The RSD-10 was an intermediate-range, road-mobile, solid propellant ballistic missile. It was built as a replacement for the fixed surface-based R-12 and R-14 intermediate range systems. It is believed that the RSD-10 was simply the first two stages of the three-stage road-mobile RS-14 ICBM. The range was insufficient to directly threaten the US, but all strategic targets within Europe could be targeted.
The RSD-10 was launched from a Transporter-Erector-Launcher (TEL) vehicle derived from previous TEL vehicles, ultimately tracing its descent to the ‘Scud B’ system. The missile was fired from a launch canister mounted on the six-axle wheeled truck. The TEL vehicles were typically based in concrete shelters with sliding roofs designed to allow for launch from inside the shelter, though the RSD-10 could also be launched from a geodetically prepared field site. The mobility of the system significantly increased its survivability in the event of a conventional or nuclear conflict. This allowed the Soviet Union to maintain deterrence against a preemptive strike while having the ability to engage European targets with the RSD-10 and focus the ICBM force against the United States.
The Mod 1 design of the RSD-10 delivered a 1,740 kg payload of three 150 kT yield MIRVs up to a maximum range of 4,700 km. The Mod 2 was essentially identical except for an improved range to 5,000 km. Both versions were constrained by a minimum range of 600 km and an accuracy of 550 m CEP. The total launch weight was 37,100 kg. The missile used a two-stage solid propellant engine and had a total length of 16.49 m with a width of 1.79 m. The RSD-10 entered the development stage in 1966, with flight tests beginning in 1974. It entered service in the Soviet Union in 1976. In 1987, 495 were deployed with another 245 non-deployed in 29 separate locations. The number was reduced to 405 by 1987 and by May 1991 all RSD-10 missiles were destroyed in accordance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. A number of RSD-10 launch bases that were not dismantled were converted to accommodate the mobile version of the SS-25. 1
Updated October 17, 2012
- Lennox, Duncan. “RSD-10 (SS-20 ‘Saber’ and Pioner, 15Zh45/15Zh53).” Jane’s Strategic Weapon Systems (Obsolete systems). October 13, 2011. (accessed October 12, 2012). ↩