Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Soviet Era Documentary on SLBM Trials and Testing

This Soviet Era film (and it is a film, not video) documents the trials and acceptance testing of the SS-N-23 "Skiff". It was probably made sometime in the mid- to late 80s. There are shots of the missile undergoing pop-up testing from an underwater test stand as well as shore-based test firings.

It is interesting to compare the amount of test launches of the SS-N-23, a Soviet era missile, with the Bulava test history. The Russian government has committed to deploying the Bulava, despite the limited testing. According to, there have been only nine test launches, at least four of them failures. With the sea trials of the Borey expected to begin this year, the Russians need a missile for it fairly soon or the Yuri Dolgarukiy and her sisters will be nothing but money pits.
Compare the Bulava testing with the testing of the SS-N-23: according to this film, there were nine sea-based tests, 16 firings from a land based test stand and multiple firings in different configurations from the lead boat of the Delta IV class. In other words there were probably at least three dozen test launches before acceptance into the fleet. What wasn't mentioned in the film was how many of those tests were failures.

00:33 - With the nine launches of the missile, submerged test launches by the design bureau were complete. The calculated and actual parameters of the ignition process were confirmed as well as the parameters of the movement of the missile in the underwater and transition phase of the trajectory.

01:08 - The completion of design bureau flight testing allowed transition to the next step of the natural development of the system.

01:35 – Two phases of flight testing of the D-9RM missile at the northern test range were performed jointly – from a shore based launch facility and from the first nuclear submarine built of its class. The purpose of simultaneous testing is to completely finish the development of the missile system and to confirm its tactical-technical characteristics.

02:15 – ((Sentence fragment because of poor editing)).

02:22 - The missile was tested from a shore based test stand 16 times. Unlike operational missiles, these missiles had telemetry gear that sent back information about the launch and the flight of the missile.

03:10 – The final phase is launching the D-9RM from a project 667BRDM (Delta IV class) SSBN.

03:33 – The main goal of the testing is to test the capabilities and technical characteristics in as close to combat conditions as possible.

03:55 – The missile firings were carried out at minimum, intermediate and maximum range in salvos of one, two and four missiles.

04:36 – Missiles away! Maximum range and accuracy of the firing, with multiple independently targeted warheads. (TR Note: I'm guessing here. The circular error probability). The astronavigation mode and also the tactical-technical characteristics and conditions for combat use of the missile. .

05:10 – Congratulations to the Chief Designer Academic Viktor Petrovich Makeyev. By proclamation of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and Soviet Government, the strategic missile system D-9RM with the D-29RM missile is accepted into service with the Navy.


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