R-29R / SS-N-18 Stingray

December 15, 2015 By Kristin Horitski

Development

The R-29R or SS-N-18 Stingray was the Soviet Union’s first sea-launched ballistic missile with an intercontinental range of 6,500-8,000 km, depending on the number of reentry vehicles. [1] Kalmar class (NATO Delta III) submarines carried the SS-N-18 and the Delta III was the first submarine able to fire multiple missiles in a single salvo. [2] There are three variations of the SS-N-18 all using the same design, but differing by the number of MIRVs they carry and the range of the missile. The SS-N-18 mod 1 is equipped with a single 450 kT warhead and has a range of 8,000 km. [3] The SS-N-18 mod 2 carries three warheads each equipped with a 200 kT nuclear yield and has a range of 6,500 km. The mod 3 has the same range as the SS-N-18 mod 2, but carries up to 7 MIRVs. [4] Russia’s Kalmar class submarines entered service between 1976 and 1982 with the SS-N-18 entering service in 1979 following successful testing. [5]

Strategic Implications

Although the Soviet Union had deployed ballistic missiles on its submarines, Delta III submarines were the first to carry missiles with an intercontinental range. With this capability, the Soviets could strike anywhere in the world from international waters, although the payload size and accuracy of the missiles limited their use to population centers and other soft targets.

As of 2011, four Delta III submarines carrying SS-N-18 missiles remained in service, but are expected to be phased out as new Borei class submarines are commissioned. All Delta III’s still in service carry 16 SS-N-18 missiles with three warheads. [6]

References

[1] “R-29R/R-2S / SS-N-18 Stingray.” Federation of American Scientists. Updated July 13, 2000.  http://fas.org/nuke/guide/russia/slbm/r29r_r2s.htm.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] “Strategic Fleet.” Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces. Last updated September 30, 2015. http://russianforces.org/navy/.

[6] “Russia.” Nuclear Threat Initiative. Accessed November 3, 2015. http://www.nti.org/country-profiles/russia/delivery-systems/.

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