Strategic Weapons: The TEL That Hides Its Tracks


June 5, 2012: Russia announced that it had developed a new device that covered the tracks (from wheels) of its TELs (Transporter Elector Launchers) that carry ballistic missiles about the countryside, to make them more difficult to destroy (before they can be launched at an enemy). Russia is aware that the United States, and other nations, can use spy satellites (that pass over the operating area for the TELs every 90 minutes) to track these TELs and their missiles. The new device can also create false tire tracks to deceive satellite reconnaissance. The 17.4 meter (54 foot) long TEL for the 46 ton Russian RS-12/24 missiles is a 16 wheel vehicle, using a 710 horsepower diesel engine.

No details of this new deception device were released, which is to be expected. What is unusual is that the existence of the device was revealed. Usually, when the Russians come up with something like this, they keep its very existence secret. This was made quite obvious during the 1990s, when many Russian weapons and items of military equipment that had been kept secret during the Cold War (1947-91) were revealed. In the case of the new TEL device, it's possible that the announcement is itself a deception, to force the Americans to waste a lot of time and effort investigating a device that doesn't exist. The Russians have used that trick before.

The original Topol (RS-12M) was the first mobile ICBM and entered service in the late 1980s. It was also Russia's first solid fuel ICBM. Two years ago Russia announced that the latest version of the Topol series, the RS-24 (Yars), had entered service. The RS-24 appears to be a slightly heavier version of the 46 ton Topol-M (or RS-12M1/M2). The RS-24 will be deployed in silos as well as on wheeled vehicles. The RS-24 carried more warheads (up to ten) than the Topol-M. The Russians developed the RS-24 to enable them to use all the additional warheads to penetrate American missile defenses.



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