Georgian military analyst views Russia’s Topol ballistic missile test on 7 Jun

Text of report by private, high circulation weekly Georgian newspaper Kviris Palitra

[Article by Irakli Aladashvili: "Nadiradze’s missile made people in Tbilisi worry. People in South Caucasus, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, and Iran saw flight of Aleksandre Nadiradze’s Topol in night sky"]

The majority of Tbilisi’s residents (and not just them) stared at the night sky 7 June, trying to determine what that strange illumination was: A bright spot was advancing in the sky, leaving a trail behind it. Then there was a flash, it started to spiral, and finally the light disappeared.

What could this strange "celestial object" possibly have been? Multiple theories were proposed, starting with the explosion of a comet and ending with an alien spaceship crash. Meanwhile, the cause of the strange illumination in the night sky was completely ordinary: These were the final seconds of the operation of a stage engine of a missile launched from earth….[ellipsis as published]

The command of the Russian Defence Ministry’s Strategic Missile Forces issued an official report the next day, stating that a Topol intercontinental ballistic missile was launched from the Kapustin Yar test site in Astrakhan Oblast at 2139 hours Moscow time [1739 GMT]. Its dummy warhead hit a hypothetical target at the Sary-Shagan test range in Kazakhstan.

According to Russian generals, the main goal of the test was to examine the flight performance of this type of missile after multiple years of storage.

The Soviet Union began deploying the Topol mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles in 1985 and Russia still had 360 Topol mobile complexes in its arsenal by 1996.

The Georgian president [Mikheil Saakashvili] said in one of his recent speeches that, during the August 2008 war, the Russians fired into Georgian territory Iskander [missiles] designed by our compatriot Nadirashvili.

While it is true that two Iskander tactical missiles hit our territory during the August war (one in downtown Gori and the other near Vaziani), they were not designed by our compatriot.

There is no one named Nadirashvili among the constructors of missile systems. However, Aleksandre Nadiradze, a great constructor and our compatriot, is frequently mentioned in Soviet and world rocket scientist circles along with [late Soviet rocket engineer Sergey] Korolev and [late German rocket scientist Werner] von Braun.

In 1977, as the chief constructor of the Moscow Thermotechnical Institute, Aleksandre Nadiradze began designing a solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile that would be deployed on a wheeled chassis and would therefore be mobile. Unlike the ballistic missiles placed inside silos, whose location coordinates were traceable by US satellites with a margin of error of a mere couple of meters, Nadiradze’s wheeled missiles would "hide" in Russia’s vast taiga and be launched towards the United States from the least likely locations.

The new mobile missile system was dubbed Topol. It became the most modern and dangerous nuclear weapon. US presidents still take account of it, and this will continue for another 10-15 years.

Preparing the Topol for launch only takes a couple of minutes. The chassis that has seven axes stops and the missile container moves into a vertical position. The missile moves several meters above the container and then the rocket engine of the 45-ton three-stage ballistic missile’s first stage starts. Once the solid fuel burns out in each of the stages, [the stage] detaches from the missile’s body. What the residents of Tbilisi saw on the night of 7 June was probably the last seconds of the operation of a rocket engine from a stage that had detached from the missile.

Once all three stages detach, the nuclear warhead that weighs about a ton continues to fly towards the target. Its power is the equivalent of 0.55 megatons of TNT.

It is noteworthy that the Topol designed by Aleksandre Nadiradze carried a nuclear warhead created by Armenian constructor Samvel Kocharyants. It was capable of wiping a provincial US town off the map.

Source: Kviris Palitra, Tbilisi in Georgian 11 Jun 12


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