Russia Declassifies R-5 Rocket Documents as Putin Creates New Nuclear Capable Weapons

  • Rosatom declassified order for the R-5 rocket production.
  • R-5 is the predecessor of Kalibr.
  • Currently there are five nuclear capable systems created under Putin.

Rosatom declassified documents pertaining to the highly secretive Russian rocket R-5.  Rosatom is a Russian state corporation headquartered in Moscow that specializes in nuclear energy. The rocket R-5 is the predecessor of the Russian Calibr. The R-5 was originally a development of OKB-1 as a single-stage missile with a detachable warhead reentry vehicle. The R-5M was a nuclear armed missile– the first nuclear missile to be deployed by the Soviet Union– with greater payload and weight but better reliability than its predecessor.

The Kalibr-M, a cruise missile with a maximum firing range of more than 4,500 km is being developed for the Russian Navy and can be fitted on nuclear submarines, including Russia’s latest Yasen-class line.  Kalibr is similar to US Tomahawk missiles. The Tomahawk Land Attack Missile is a long-range, all-weather, jet-powered, subsonic cruise missile that is primarily used by the US Navy and the Royal Navy in ship- and submarine-based land-attack operations.

The documents had the highest level of security classification dated August 17, 1955. One of the documents is an order by the Soviets to create 40 R-5 Systems with nuclear warheads. The OKB-52 Soviet design bureau was responsible for the highly secretive project. It was founded in 1944 to develop rockets for the Red Army.

At the time Vladimir Chalomey was in charge of the OKB-52 and the classified task. Chelomey was a Soviet mechanics scientist, aviation and missile engineer. He invented the very first Soviet pulse jet engine and was responsible for the development of the world’s first anti-ship cruise missiles and ICBM complexes like the UR-100, UR-200, UR-500 and UR-700.

Officially, the atomic program started in the Soviet Union in 1945, right after World War II. In 1946, Yuli Khariton was appointed by Kurchatov as the atomic program head. The secret Soviet nuclear site was Arzamas-16. In 1949, the Soviets conducted their first nuclear test, code-named ‘RDS-1’ at the Semipalatinsk test site.

R-5 was equipped with RDS-4, which was a Soviet nuclear bomb, first tested in 1953 in Semipalatinsk. The first system launch occurred in 1957. R-5 officially started being used by the Soviet Navy in 1962.

Russian President Vladimir Putin ressurrected the nuclear program. Earlier this year, Russia pulled out from the nuclear treaty, paving the way for the development of new nuclear weapons.

In November, a report was released by the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), Russia’s New Nuclear Weapon Delivery Systems, authored by Jill Hruby, NTI’s Sam Nunn Distinguished Fellow and a former director of Sandia National Laboratorie. The report outlines the new nuclear systems in Russia under Putin’s doctrine.

1) The new  ICBM called the Sarmat 6 is a replacement for the R-36M2 Voevoda ICBM (SS-18 by NATO). RS-28 Sarmat is a liquid-fueled, multiple-warhead ICBM. (2018)

2) Kinzhal hypersonic short-range ballistic missile launched from a high-speed aircraft, modified Iskander-M short-range (400 km to 500 km, 250 mi to 310 mi), nuclear-capable ballistic missile using a solid-propellant rocket with small fins for maneuverability. (2018)

3) Avangard Boost-Glide Hypersonic Missile. Putin announced the system went into serial production this year.

4) Tsirkon is the 3M22, a scramjet powered maneuvering anti-ship hypersonic cruise missile developed by Russia. (2019)

It is clear Russia is on a nuclear trajectory and Putin’s fascination with nuclear weapons development and military might is on the same level as during the Cold War era.

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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