R-29R Vysota (SS-N-18)


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The R-29R Vysota (NATO: 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

Vysota (SS-N-18 “Stingray”) at a Glance

Originated from
Russia
Possessed by
Russia
Alternate names
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-18 Development

There 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

Footnotes

    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.
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Missile Defense Project, "R-29R Vysota (SS-N-18)," Missile Threat, Center for Strategic and International Studies, August 10, 2016, last modified August 2, 2021, https://missilethreat.csis.org/missile/ss-n-18/.