SS-N-18 “Stingray”

The SS-N-18 Stingray is an intercontinental-range, submarine-launched, liquid propellant ballistic missile. It likely derives from the SS-N-8 (R-29) missile. The SS-N-18 was designed for the Delta III ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), or Kalmar class. Each Kalmar carries sixteen SS-N-18 missiles.1

SS-N-18 At a Glance

Originated From: Russia
Possessed By: Russia
Alternate Name: Stingray, R-29R Mod 1/2/3, Volna, D-9R, RSM-50, 3M40
Class: Submarine-launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM)
Basing: Submarine-launched
Length: 14.6 m
Diameter: 1.8 m
Launch Weight: 35,300 kg
Payload: Three MIRV, 1,650 kg
Warhead: Nuclear 200 kT
Propulsion: Two-stage liquid propellant
Range: 6,500 km
Status: Operational
In Service: 1977

SS-N-18There have been three SS-N-18 variants. Mod 1 has a range of 6,500 km, carries three MIRV warheads each equipped with a 200 kT nuclear yield. The Mod 2 variation carried a single 450 kT nuclear warhead to a range of 8,000 km. The Mod 3 variation carried seven MIRVed warheads, with a 6,500 km range. 2 They use an inertial guidance system coupled with a stellar sensor. The missiles use a two-stage, liquid propellant engine. In 1991, all Mod 2 and Mod 3 versions were altered to the Mod 1 specifications.3

Development on the SS-N-18 began in 1968 and the missiles were first tested from land-based launch sites in 1975 and from a submarine in 1976. There have been over 150 tests since. The Mod 1 entered service in 1977, with the Mod 2 and Mod 3 entering in 1979.4

In 1991, 14 Delta III submarines remained in service, with only four still in service by July 2011. A 2013 U.S. report stated that there were 96 operational SS-N-18 missiles in Russia’s arsenal. 5

Replacement

As of 2016, 32 three-Mirved SS-N-18 missiles were deployed on two Delta III submarines, serving in Russia’s Pacific fleet. These are expected to be replaced by the Borei-class SSBNs, which will be equipped with SS-N-32 Bulava SLBMs.6

There was a proposal for the missile to be used as a Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV) to be called Volyna. The SLV would have the capability to place a 130 kg payload into a 250 km (155 mile) circular orbit. Tests of the Volyna system have taken place in June 1995, July 2001 (unsuccessful), July 2002, June 2005 (unsuccessful), and October 2005.7

    1. “R-29R Volna (SS-N-18 ‘Stingray’/RSM-50/3M40),” in IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic 2015-2016, ed. James C. O’Halloran (United Kingdom: IHS, 2015), 89-90.
    2. [4. Pavel Podvig, ed., Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2001), 330.
    3. “R-29R Volna (SS-N-18 ‘Stingray’/RSM-50/3M40),” in IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic 2015-2016, ed. James C. O’Halloran (United Kingdom: IHS, 2015), 89-90.
    4. “R-29R Volna (SS-N-18 ‘Stingray’/RSM-50/3M40),” in IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic 2015-2016, ed. James C. O’Halloran (United Kingdom: IHS, 2015), 89-90.
    5. National Air and Space Intelligence Center, U.S. Air Force, “Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat,” 2013, http://fas.org/programs/ssp/nukes/nuclearweapons/NASIC2013_050813.pdf
    6. Hans M. Kristensen & Robert S. Norris (2016) Russian nuclear forces, 2016, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 72:3, 125-129
    7. “R-29R Volna (SS-N-18 ‘Stingray’/RSM-50/3M40),” IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic 2015-2016, ed. James C. O’Halloran (United Kingdom: IHS, 2015), 89-90.