Chapter II - Forces for Nuclear Attack
In the year since the publication of Soviet Military Power 1984,
the Soviet Union has pressed ahead with the development and deployment
of new generations of increasingly capable land, sea, and air forces
for nuclear attack. As modernization of the fourth generation of
intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) has neared completion -
ICBMs with greater accuracy and survivability - the USSR has moved with
great speed in the development and test firing of a fifth generation of
ICBM, with a new dimension of capability - mobility that increases its
As the USSR's strategic nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine
(SSBN) force has increased its capability with the introduction of each
new TYPHOON-Class SSBN, the Soviets have launched a new SSBN - the
DELTA IV - as the platform for their most capable long-range multiple
independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRVed) submarine-launched
ballistic missile (SLBM), the SS-NX-23.
The USSR now has three manned strategic bombers in production and
development - the BACKFIRE, the BEAR H. and the BLACKJACK. With the
reopening of the BEAR production line, the Soviets are producing a new,
upgraded variant of the BEAR turboprop bomber, thereby increasing their
long-range bomber force. Newly built BEAR H bombers have become the
launch platform for the nonoperational long-range AS-15 air-launched
The modernization and upgrading of these strategic forces have been
paralleled by growth and increased capabilities of the Soviets' longer
range intermediate-range nuclear (LRINF) and short-range ballistic
missile (SRBM) systems deployed with Soviet combat forces. Significant
improvements in nuclear capable aircraft, as well as increases in
tactical missiles and nuclear artillery, have also occurred.
Soviet leaders since Khrushchev have followed a consistent and
relentless policy for the development of forces for nuclear attack. The
Soviet leadership, however, recognizes the catastrophic consequences of
nuclear war. The grand strategy of the USSR, therefore, is to attain
its objectives, if possible, by means short of war - exploiting the
coercive leverage inherent in superior forces, particularly nuclear
forces, to instill fear, to erode the West's collective security
arrangements, and to support subversion. Thus, the primary role of
Soviet military power is to provide the essential underpinning for the
step-by-step extension of Soviet influence and control.
a global conflict, Soviet strategic policy would be to destroy Western
nuclear forces before launch or in flight to their targets; to ensure
national survival should nuclear weapons reach the Soviet homeland; and
to support and sustain combined arms combat in several theaters of
military operations. From these policy directives come several
overarching strategic wartime missions:
- eliminate Western nuclear capabilities and related supporting facilities;
- seize and occupy vital areas on the Eurasian landmass; and
- defend the Soviet State against attack.
These missions would involve:
- disruption and destruction of the West's essential command, control, and communications capabilities;
- destruction or neutralization of the West's nuclear forces on the ground or at sea before they could be launched; and
- protection of the Soviet leadership and cadres, military
forces, and military and economic assets necessary to sustain the war.
Soviets believe that a conventional war in Europe might escalate to the
nuclear level despite their oft-repeated commitment to no first-use of
nuclear weapons, the Soviets have developed extensive plans either to
preempt a NATO nuclear strike by launching a massive attack, or to
launch a massive first strike against prime NATO targets should their
conventional operations falter.
Strategic and theater forces and programs in place or under active development designed to accomplish these objectives include:
- hard-target-capable ICBMs, LRINF ballistic missiles, and land-based cruise missiles;
- short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) and free rocket over ground (FROG) systems deployed with combat troops;
- bombers and air-launched cruise missiles(ALCMs) designed to penetrate US and Allied defensive systems;
- submarine-launched ballistic missiles and cruise missiles (SLCMs) on various platforms;
- antisubmarine warfare (ASW) forces to attack Western nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines;
- air and missile defenses, including early warning satellites
and radars, interceptor aircraft, surface-to-air missiles
(SAMs),antiballistic missile (ABM) radars and interceptors, and some
- antisatellite weapons;
- passive defense forces, including civil defense forces and
countermeasures troops and equipment devoted to confusing incoming
- Hardened facilities numbering in the thousands, command vehicles, and
evacuation plans designed to protect Party, military, governmental and
industrial staffs, essential workers, and to the extent possible, the
Supporting a land war in Eurasia and eliminating the US capacity to
fight and support a conflict would require the capability to employ
theater and strategic forces over a variety of ranges and the
- other military-associated command and control;
- war-supporting industries, arsenals, and major military facilities;
- ports and airfields in the United States and those along sea and air routes to
European and Asian theaters of war; and
- satellite surveillance sensors, ground-based surveillance sensors, related facilities, and communications.
Offensive forces (ICBMs, LRINF, SLBMs, SRBMs, cruise missiles, and
bombers) and antisatellite weapons would generally be assigned these
tasks. In some cases, special purpose forces could be used for these
missions, especially in Eurasia. These tasks would be generally less
demanding than those in the prime category.
Soviet nuclear forces are designed and personnel trained to fulfill
their missions under all circumstances. In a nuclear exchange, the
Soviets believe the most favorable circumstance would be a preemptive
strike; the least favorable would be a follow-on strike after nuclear
weapons hit the USSR. The Soviets have training programs intended to
enable nuclear forces to operate under all circumstances. Moreover, the
Soviets appear to believe that nuclear war might last weeks or even
months and have factored that into their force planning.
- The key to success in preemption would be effective
coordination of the strike and sound intelligence on Western
intentions. During wartime, the main mission of Soviet intelligence
would be to determine the West's intended courses of action. Meeting
these demands in war requires reliable command, control, and
communications under all conditions.
- A launch-under-attack circumstance would place a great
stress on attack warning systems and launch coordination. To meet this
demand the Soviets have established a satellite-based ICBM
launch-detection system, built an over-the-horizon radar missile
launch-detection system to back up the satellites, and have large
phased-array radars ringing the USSR. These warning systems could give
the Soviets time to launch their forces very quickly.
- Follow-on strikes would require the survivability of the
command, control, and communications systems as well as the weapons
themselves. The Soviets have invested heavily in providing this
survivability. The SS-17, SS-18, and SS-19 ICBMs are housed in the
world's hardest silos. Silo deployment has been adopted for ABMs as
well. To increase survivability, the SS-20 LRINF missile is mobile.
Mobile ICBMs are nearing deployment, and a mobile strategic
surface-to-air missile is almost operational. The launch control
facilities for offensive missiles are housed in very hard silos or on
off-road vehicles. Communications are redundant and hardened. Higher
commands have multiple mobile alternate command posts available for
their use, including land vehicles, trains, aircraft, and ships.
Bombers are assigned dispersal airfields. Ballistic missile submarines
could be submerged in deep fjords just off their piers or dispersed
while being protected by Soviet surface and submarine forces.
- The belief that a nuclear war might be protracted has led to
the USSR's emphasis on survivability along with war reserves,
protection for essential personnel and equipment, and the capacity to
reload launchers. For their ICBM, LRINF, SRBM, and air defense forces,
the Soviets have stocked extra missiles, propellants, and warheads
throughout the USSR. Some ICBM silo launchers could be reloaded, and
provisions have been made for the decontamination of those launchers.
Plans for the survival of necessary equipment and personnel have been
developed and practiced. Resupply systems are available to reload SSBNs
in protected waters.
Even with these ambitious development and deployment programs, the
Soviets continue to modernize all elements of their nuclear attack
forces. At the same time, the Soviet leadership has been directing a
campaign to support and amplify ongoing antinuclear movements in the
West to influence, delay, or frustrate Western nuclear force programs.
Using this two pronged approach, Moscow seeks new gains in relative
capability despite the drive of Western governments to redress the
imbalance that has developed over the past decade.
Forces for Intercontinental Attack
Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles
operational Soviet ICBM force consists of some 1,400 silo launchers,
aside from those at test sites. Some 818 of these launchers have been
rebuilt since 1972. Nearly half of these silos are new versions of the
original designs and have been reconstructed or modified in the past
six years. All 818 silos have been hardened better to withstand attack
by currently operational US ICBMs. These silos contain the world's most
modern deployed ICBMs - the SS-17 Mod 3 (150 silos), the SS-18 Mod 4
(308), and the SS-19 Mod 3 (360). Deployment of these ICBMs began just
six years ago.
The highly accurate SS-18 and SS-19 ICBMs carry more and larger
Multiple Independently-Targetable Reentry Vehicles (MIRVs) than the
MINUTEMAN III, the most modern US ICBM. The SS-18 Mod 4 carries ten
MIRVs, and the SS-19 Mod 3 carries six, whereas the MINUTEMAN III
carries only three. The SS-18 Mod 4 was specifically designed to attack
and destroy ICBM silos and other hardened targets in the United States.
Each of its 10 warheads has more than 20 times the destructive power of
the nuclear devices developed during World War II. The SS-18 Mod 4
force currently deployed has the capability to destroy more than 80
percent of US ICBM silos using two nuclear warheads against each. The
SS-19 Mod 3 ICBM could be assigned similar missions and, in addition,
could be used against targets in Eurasia. Although the SS-17 Mod 3 is
somewhat less capable than the SS-19, it has similar targeting
The remaining 580 Soviet ICBM silos are fitted with the SS-11 - 420
SS-11 Mod 2/3s, 100 SS-1I Mod Is - and 60 SS-13 Mod 2s. These ICBMs of
older vintage 1966 and 1973 initial deployment, respectively - are
housed in less-survivable silos and are considerably less capable.
Nevertheless, their destructive potential against softer area targets
in the United States and Eurasia is significant in terms of many of the
Soviet nuclear requirements outlined above.
SS-16 is a three-stage, solid-propellant, single-RV ICBM that the
Soviets claim has not been deployed. The system was first tested in
1972; the last known test took place in 1976. The SS-20 LRINF missile
is closely related to the SS-16. The SS-16 probably was intended
originally for both silo and mobile deployment, using equipment and a
basing arrangement comparable to that used with the SS-20. The Soviet
Union agreed in SALT II not to produce, test, or deploy ICBMs of the
SS-16 type and, in particular, not to produce the SS-16 third stage,
the RV, or the appropriate device for targeting the RV of that missile.
While the evidence is somewhat ambiguous, it indicates that the SS-16
activities at Plesetsk are a probable violation of SALT II, which
banned SS-16 deployment.
Deployment programs for all of the currently operational Soviet ICBM
systems are complete. The command, control, and communications system
that supports the Soviet ICBM force is modern and highly survivable,
and the reliability of the ICBMs themselves is regularly tested by live
firings from operational complexes.
Those ICBMs in the current force that the Soviets decide not to replace
with modified or new ICBMs will, in accord with past practice, be
refurbished to increase their useful lifetime. During this process,
some system modifications could also be made. Through this capacity for
refurbishment, the Soviets can sustain a higher level of confidence in
system reliability over a longer term than would otherwise be possible.
Force Developments. Soviet research and development on ICBMs is
a dynamic process involving many programs. The completion of current
deployment programs probably marks the end of significant Soviet
investment in the development of entirely new liquid-propellant ICBMs.
Modified versions of the SS-18, however, are likely to be produced and
deployed in existing silos in the future.
The Soviets appear to be planning on new solid-propellant ICBMs to meet
future mission requirements, including a counterforce capability and
ICBM force survivability. Two new solid-propellant ICBMs, the
medium-size SS-X-24 and the smaller SS-X-25, are well along in their
flight test programs from the range head at Plesetsk in the Soviet
north. A mobile version of each of these systems will be deployed.
The SS-X-24 will probably be silo-deployed at first, with initial
deployment expected in 1986. Rail-mobile deployment could follow by one
to two years. Early preparations for the deployment of the SS-X-24 are
The SS-X-25 is approximately the same size as the US MINUTEMAN ICBM. It
will carry a single reentry vehicle. The SS-X-25 has apparently been
designed for road-mobile deployment similar to that of the SS-20; as
such it will be highly survivable with an inherent refire capability.
Two bases, probably for the SS-X-25, are nearing operational
capability. They consist of launcher garages equipped with sliding
roofs and several support buildings to house the necessary mobile
Recent activity at the Soviet ICBM test ranges indicates that two
additional new ICBMs are under development. A new ICBM to replace the
SS-18 is nearing the flight test stage of development. Additionally, a
solid propellant missile that may be larger than the SS-X-24 will begin
flight testing in the next few years. Both of these missiles are likely
to have better accuracy and greater throwweights than their
Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles
Soviets maintain the world's largest ballistic missile submarine force.
As of early 1985, the force numbered 62 modern SSBNs carrying 928
nuclear-tipped missiles. These totals do not include 13 older
submarines with 39 missiles currently assigned theater missions.
Eighteen SSBNs are fitted with 300 MIRVed submarine-launched ballistic
missiles (SLBMs). These 18 units have been built and deployed within
the past 8 years. Over two-thirds of the ballistic missile submarines,
including those equipped with MIRVed missiles are fitted with
long-range SLBMs that enable the submarines to patrol in waters close
to the Soviet Union. This affords protection from NATO antisubmarine
warfare operations. Moreover, the long range missiles allow the Soviets
to fire from home ports, if necessary, and still strike targets in the
units of one of the most modern Soviet ballistic missile submarine, the
TYPHOON, have already been built. Each TYPHOON carries 20 SS-N-20
solid-propellant MIRVed SLBMs. The TYPHOON is the world's largest
submarine, with a displacement of 25,000 tons, one-third greater than
the US OHIO-Class. The submarine can operate under the Arctic Ocean
icecap, adding further to the protection afforded by the
8,300-kilometer range of the SS-N-20 SLBM. Three or four additional
TYPHOONs are probably now under construction and, by the early 1990s,
the Soviets could have as many as eight of these potent weapons systems
in their operational force.
In accordance with the SALT I Interim Agreement, the Soviets have,
since 1978, removed 12 YANKEE I units from service as ballistic missile
submarines. These units had to be removed as newer submarines were
produced in order for the overall Soviet SSBN force to stay within 62
modern SSBN/950 SLBM limits established in 1972. These YANKEEs,
however, have not been scrapped. Some have been reconfigured as attack
or cruise missile submarines.
The Soviets may have begun to assign theater attack missions to some of
the 21 remaining YANKEE I submarines. However, YANKEE patrols targeted
against the United States continue.
The Soviets have launched two units of a new class of SSBN, the DELTA
IV, which will be fitted with the SS-NX-23 SLBM, now being flight
tested. This large, liquid-propelled SLBM will have greater
throwweight, carry more warheads, and be more accurate than the
SS-N-18, which is carried on the DELTA III SSBN. The SS-NX-23 is likely
to be deployed on DELTA IIIs as a replacement for the SS-N-18 as well
as on the new DELTA IVs.
Soviets will probably begin flight testing a modified version of the
SS-N-20. Additionally, based on past Soviet practice, they may initiate
testing of a modified version of the SS-NX-23 before the end of the
1980s. Both modified versions of the SS-N-20 and SS-NX-23 are likely to
be more accurate than their predecessors.
To ensure communication reliability, the Soviets emphasize redundant
and timely command and control for their military forces, especially
those for intercontinental attack. The Soviets are expected to deploy
an extremely low frequency (ELF) communications system that will enable
them to contact SSBNs under most operating conditions.
Soviet strategic bombers and strike aircraft
have been restructured to form five air armies subordinate to the Supreme High Command(VGK). The five armies are:
- Smolensk Air Army;
- Legnica Air Army;
- Venitza Air Army;
- Irkutsk Air Army; and
- Moscow Air Army.
These armies were established to place Soviet strategic aircraft on a
footing in peace time that would facilitate the transition to wartime.
The armies are focused on potential conflicts in Europe, Asia, and the
Strategic aviation assets include some 170 BEAR and BISON bombers and
about 250 BACKFIRE bombers (including 120 BACKFIRE bombers in Soviet
Naval Aviation). The Soviets also have 360 medium-range BLINDER and
BADGER bombers; 450 shorter range FENCER strike aircraft; and 530
tanker, reconnaissance, and electronic warfare aircraft. The Soviets
have allocated these aircraft among the five air armies to provide
support for specific theaters of military operations and to assure the
flexibility to reallocate aircraft as necessary during wartime. The
intercontinental BEAR and BISON bombers are available for maritime and
Eurasian missions, and the BACKFIRE can be used against the United
States. This flexibility allows the Soviets to focus their strategic
air assets as circumstances require.
The Soviets have taken recent steps that indicate greatly increased
interest in their long range strategic bomber force. An entirely new
variant of the BEAR bomber - the BEAR H - is now operational with the
AS-15 long-range cruise missile. This is the first new production of a
strike version of the BEAR airframe in over 15 years. In addition,
older BEAR aircraft configured to carry air-to-surface missiles (ASMs)
are being reconfigured to carry the newer, supersonic AS-4 missile in
place of the subsonic AS-3. Several of these reconfigurations (BEAR G)
have been completed. With the BEAR H in series production, the decline
in the inventory of BEAR aircraft, characteristic of recent years, has
BACKFIRE is the most modern operational Soviet bomber. The Soviets
continue to produce this aircraft at a rate of at least 30 per year;
this production rate is likely to be maintained at least through the
end of the decade. The original design has been modified several times,
and further modifications are likely to be made to upgrade aircraft
performance. The BACKFIRE is a long-range aircraft capable of
performing nuclear strike, conventional attack, antiship, and
reconnaissance missions. The BACKFIRE can be equipped with a probe to
permit in-flight refueling
to increase its range and radius capabilities. It could be used against
the contiguous United States on high-altitude subsonic missions. Its
low-altitude supersonic dash capabilities make it a formidable weapon
to support military operations in Europe and Asia as well.
SRC="87_bombers_s.jpg">The Soviets have some FENCER strike aircraft
assigned to strategic aviation. The FENCER is a supersonic,
variable-geometry wing, all-weather fighter-bomber that first reached
operational status in 1974. Three variants have been developed, the
most recent introduced in 1981. The aircraft is still in production,
and the number assigned to strategic aviation is likely to increase
over the next few years.
The new Soviet long range bomber, the BLACKJACK, is in the flight test
stage of development. The BLACKJACK is larger than the US B-1B,
probably will be faster, and may have about the same combat radius.
This new bomber could be operational by 1988. The BLACKJACK will be
capable of carrying cruise missiles, bombs, or a combination of both.
It probably will first replace the much less capable BISON bomber and
then the BEAR A bomber.
new aerial-refueling tanker aircraft, based on the Il-76/CANDID, has
been under development for several years. When deployed in the near
future, the new tanker will support tactical and strategic aircraft and
will significantly improve the ability of Soviet aircraft to conduct
longer range operations.
Long-Range Cruise Missiles
Current Systems and Force Levels.
The AS-15, a small, air-launched, subsonic, low-altitude cruise
missile, similar in design to the US TOMAHAWK, reached initial
operational capability with the BEAR H in 1984. The AS-15 has a range
of about 3,000 kilometers. The system could also be deployed on
BLACKJACK bombers when that aircraft becomes operational. The
combination of the AS-15 and the new BEAR H and BLACKJACK bombers will
increase Soviet strategic intercontinental air power in the late 1980s.
There are some 25 BEAR H bombers operational at this time.
Force Developments. The Soviets are developing four other
long-range cruise missile systems. Two of these are variants of the
AS-15, and the other two are variants of a larger system probably
designed for long-range operations. The latter have no US counterpart.
two smaller cruise missiles are being developed for launch from sea-
and ground-based platforms, respectively. The sea-based variant, the
SS-NX-21, is small enough to be fired from standard Soviet torpedo
tubes. Candidate launch platforms for the SS-NX-21 include: the
existing VICTOR III nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN), a new
YANKEE-Class SSN and, the new AKULA, MIKE, and SIERRA Class SSNs. The
SS-NX-21 is expected to become operational this year and could be
deployed on submarines near US coasts.
The ground-based SSC-X-4 variant of the small cruise missile may not be
ready for operational deployment until late this year or next. Its
range and the likelihood the Soviets will not deploy the system outside
the USSR indicate that its mission will be in support of theater
operations. The system will be mobile and probably follow operational
procedures like those of the SS-20 LRINF missile.
The larger cruise missile is being developed as a sea-based system that
has been designated the SS-NX-24. A newly converted YANKEE Class
nuclear-powered cruise missile attack submarine (SSGN) will be the test
platform for the SS-NX-24. A ground-based variant of this missile may
be in development. The SS-NX-24 could be operational within the next
two years, and the ground-based version sometime after that.
When first deployed, these cruise missiles probably will be fitted with
nuclear warheads and capable of attacking hardened targets. Depending
on future munitions developments and the types of guidance systems
incorporated in their designs, they could eventually be accurate enough
to permit the use of conventional warheads. With such warheads, highly
accurate cruise missiles would pose a significant non-nuclear threat to
US and NATO airfields and nuclear weapons in a non-nuclear conflict.
US Nuclear Forces
In measuring and evaluating the continuing progress being made by the
USSR's strategic forces, it is useful to bear in mind the status of US
forces. By mid-1985, US strategic deterrent forces will consist of:
- 1,000 MINUTEMAN ICBMs;
- 26 TITAN ICBMs;
-240 B-52G/H model bombers, plus about 23 aircraft undergoing maintenance and modification;
- 56 FB-111 bombers, plus some 5 aircraft undergoing maintenance and modification;
- 496 POSEIDON (C-3 and C-4) fleet ballistic missile launchers; and
- 144 TRIDENT fleet ballistic missile launchers.
The historic and continuing objective of US strategic forces is
deterrence of nuclear and major conventional aggression against the
United States and its allies. This policy has preserved nuclear peace
for nearly 40 years and, in sharp contrast to the Soviet priority
accorded nuclear warfighting, is based on the conviction of all postwar
American administrations that there could be no winners in a nuclear
conflict. Rather, US deterrence policy seeks to maintain the situation
in which any potential aggressor sees little to gain and much to lose
by initiating hostilities against the United States or its allies. In
turn, the maintenance of peace through nuclear deterrence provides the
vital opportunity to realize a complementary and constant US goal of
eliminating nuclear weapons from the arsenals of all states. To realize
these deterrence objectives requires the development, deployment, and
maintenance of strategic forces whose size and characteristics clearly
indicate to an opponent that he cannot achieve his politico-military
objectives either through employment of nuclear weapons or through
political coercion based on nuclear advantages. Modernization of US
strategic deterrent forces is reported in Chapter VIII.
Forces for Theater Attack
the initial deployment of the SS-20 LRINF missile in 1977, the Soviets
launched a concerted effort to modernize and expand their
intermediate-range nuclear force. Each SS-20 carries three MIRVs,
thereby providing a significant force expansion factor even as the
older single-RV SS-4 is withdrawn. The SS-20 also has significant
improvements in accuracy and reaction time over the older missiles they
About 400 SS-20s have been deployed, two thirds of which are opposite
European NATO. Some shifting of the SS-20 force has recently been
observed as the Soviets prepare for deployment of the SS-X-25 ICBM;
however, no reduction in the SS-20 force is expected from this
activity. The mobility of the SS-20 system enables both on- and
off-road operation. As a result, the survivability of the SS-20 is
greatly enhanced because detecting and targeting them is difficult when
they are field deployed. Further, the SS-20 launcher has the capability
of being reloaded and refired, and the Soviets stockpile refire
In addition to the SS-20 force, the Soviets still maintain some 120
SS-4 LRINF missiles. All of these missiles are located in the western
USSR opposite European NATO. In addition to the land-based LRINF
missile forces, the Soviets still maintain and operate 13 GOLF II-Class
ballistic missile submarines. Each submarine is equipped with three
SS-N-5 SLBMs. Six GOLF II units are based in the Baltic, where they
continue to pose a threat to most of Europe, while the remaining seven
GOLF IIs patrol the Sea of Japan, where they could be employed against
targets in the Far East.
Future Force Developments. A modified version of the
SS-20 is in flight test. This missile is expected to have even greater
accuracy and other improvements over the current SS-20.
US Non-Strategic Forces
The initial deployment of PERSHING IIs and ground-launched cruise
missiles (GLCMs) began in Europe in late 1983. Deployment will continue
until 1988, when 108 PERSHING IIs and 464 GLCMs will be in place,
unless a US-Soviet agreement that eliminates or limits the number of
LRINF missiles on both sides is concluded. The deployment of US
PERSHING II and ground-launched cruise missiles responds to the Soviet
LRINF missile threat to Europe.
As the US PERSHING IIs replace the shorter range PERSHING Is and Soviet
SS-23s replace the SCUDs in Europe, the Soviet Union will at least
maintain its substantial numerical superiority in shorter range
non-strategic nuclear missiles while improving the qualitative
characteristics of its forces. The USSR also possesses a significant
numerical advantage in intermediate-range nuclear force (INF) aircraft
and is reducing the qualitative advantage NATO has enjoyed, despite
NATO's INF aircraft modernization program, which consists of the
replacement of older aircraft with the F-16 and TORNADO.
Short-range nuclear forces (SNF) consist of tube artillery and missiles
of much shorter range than INF missiles. The balance in SNF artillery,
traditionally an area of NATO advantage, also has shifted dramatically
in favor of the Soviets in recent years. The Soviets have achieved
parity in overall numbers of SNF and continue to have a substantial
advantage in the category of short-range missiles, giving them more
flexibility in the employment of SNF.
Short-Range Ballistic Missiles
Current Systems and Force Levels. Armies and fronts have
missile brigades equipped with 12-18 SS-1C SCUD SRBMs. Over 400 SCUD
launchers are opposite European NATO; over 100 are opposite the
Sino-Soviet border and in the Far East; about 75 are opposite southwest
Asia and eastern Turkey; and one brigade is in strategic reserve. The
SCUD is expected to be replaced by the SS-23, which has a longer range
and improved accuracy. Initial deployment is anticipated opposite NATO
and China. Each front commander may also have a brigade of 12-18
SCALEBOARD missiles available. They are more accurate than the SS-12
they replaced. Over 60 launchers are opposite European NATO and 40 are
opposite the Sino-Soviet border in the Far East. There is one battalion
opposite southwest Asia/eastern Turkey, and one brigade is in the
Strategic Reserve military districts. The new generation of shorter
range missiles can be employed effectively with conventional and
improved conventional munitions warheads in light of their greatly
In 1984, the Soviets, for the first time, forward deployed the
SCALEBOARD short-range ballistic missile to Eastern Europe. These
front-level missiles, which normally deploy with Soviet combined arms
formations, are now in position to strike deep into NATO without having
first to forward deploy.
Force Developments. It is likely that the Soviets will continue
to seek improvements in their SRBM force. Improvements in guidance and
control, warhead capabilities, and accuracies are expected. Such
improvements will give the combined arms commanders enhanced nonnuclear
targeting options and more flexible, reliable, and survivable SRBMs.
These systems will be capable of delivering nuclear, chemical, or
conventional warheads closer to the forward edge of the battle area and
at greater depths within the military theater of operations.
Tactical Missiles and Nuclear Artillery
Current Systems and Force Levels.
At division level, the predominant weapon is the unguided FROG, found
in a battalion of four launchers. The Soviets have begun to replace the
FROG with the more accurate, longer range SS-21 in most divisions
opposite NATO. Currently there are some 375 FROG and SS-21 launchers
opposite NATO. Two hundred FROG launchers are opposite the Sino-Soviet
border and in the Far East; about 100 are opposite southwest Asia and
eastern Turkey; and about 75 are in the Strategic Reserve MDs.
In addition to FROG and SS-21 launchers, a division commander has some
800 nuclear capable artillery tubes at his disposal. Two new
self-propelled artillery pieces, a 152-mm gun and a howitzer/mortar,
are now entering the inventory. Both of these guns are nuclear capable
and will bring the total number of nuclear-capable artillery tubes to
over 2,000 when fully deployed. An additional 4,000 152mm howitzers
have at least a potential nuclear capability.
Force Developments. As in all other nuclear attack forces, it
is likely that the Soviets will improve the capabilities of their
tactical missiles and nuclear artillery pieces. This improvement will
be accomplished through incremental modernization of current systems
and the introduction of entirely new systems.
Strategic Rocket Forces
following World War II, Stalin committed Soviet scientists and
engineers to develop the type of artillery promised by the V-1 and V-2
rockets as rapidly as possible. These weapons were to have increased
ranges for use in strategic warfare and, if possible, an
intercontinental capability. Stalin had assigned most missile
development programs in the Soviet Union to the artillery component of
the ground forces and kept their development under strict security. The
prevailing Soviet view at the time was that rockets were ordnance, not
pilotless aircraft. From the mission point of view, however, use of
long-range missiles was assigned to Long-Range Aviation (LRA) since it
was responsible for the conduct of strategic warfare. This mission
assignment lasted until late 1953, when the collective leadership in
the post-Stalin era stripped LRA of its operational control of
the 1950s as issues of doctrine and strategy became clearer, yet to be
resolved was what service or services controlled ballistic missiles and
would be responsible for their operational use. According to the
Soviets, the issue was discussed at the highest levels in the Ministry
of Defense and the Politburo. In late 1959, the Soviets decided to
create a new service, the strategic Rocket Forces (SRF), responsible
for the development, administration, training, and operation of
ballistic missiles. The creation of the SRF and the appointment of M.I.
Nedelinas its commander was announced in January 1960 during a session
of the Supreme Soviet.
Soviets were quick to realize that the improvements in ballistic
missiles and the formation of the SRF required better technically
trained personnel and combat readiness. In addition to the training of
personnel in missile maintenance and operations, the Soviets trained
missile crews to meet the demands of modern nuclear warfare. As more
technically sophisticated computers and automated control systems were
introduced and missile systems attained higher degrees of readiness,
crew sizes were reduced. The demands placed upon crew readiness,
however, increased to the point where most or all ICBM and LRINF
missiles could be launched in minutes. The Soviets insist that SRF
personnel be combat ready at all times. As a result, Soviet missile
crews are regularly trained for the contingencies of preemption,
launch-on-tactical-warning, or a second strike attack. An additional
part of crew training is reconstitution and refire of those silos not
destroyed in a counterattack. In keeping with the demands of Soviet
nuclear doctrine,missile crews are trained to perform their tasks under