Strategic Rocket Force

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Strategic Rocket Force


an armed service of the USSR armed forces, designated to perform strategic missions with missiles. The strategic rocket force is capable of destroying enemy offensive nuclear weapons, major groupings of enemy forces, and military bases; devastating military-industrial targets; and disrupting the organization of state and military control and the operation of rear services and transport. The strategic rocket force can perform its missions independently or in coordination with the strategic weapons of other armed services by delivering massed nuclear missile strikes.

The strategic rocket force as an armed service is chiefly characterized by an ability to deliver nuclear strikes with great precision at practically unlimited distances, to carry out extensive maneuvers with nuclear missile strikes and deliver them simultaneously against all the key strategic targets from the positions occupied, and to perform assigned missions in the shortest possible time and create advantageous conditions for other armed services to wage successful military actions. In an organizational sense, the strategic rocket force consists of units equipped with intercontinental ballistic missiles and medium-range missiles.

The first missile unit in the Soviet armed forces was formed on July 15, 1946. In October 1947 the R-1, the first long-range guided ballistic missile, was launched. By 1955 there were several missile units with long-range missiles. In 1957 the USSR successfully tested the world’s first intercontinental multistage ballistic missile.

In January 1960 the formation of a new armed service, the strategic rocket force, was announced. It is headed by the commander in chief who is a deputy minister of defense of the USSR. A main staff and main directorate are subordinate to him. The commanders in chief of the strategic rocket force have included Chief Marshal of the Artillery M. I. Nedelin (December 1959-October 1960) and Marshals of the Soviet Union K. S. Moskalenko (October 1960-April 1962), S. S. Biriuzov (April 1962-March 1963), and N. I. Krylov (March 1963-February 1972). General of the Army V. F. Tolubko has been the commander in chief of the strategic rocket force since April 1972.

In the armed forces of foreign countries strategic missile forces do not form a separate service. In the US armed forces, land-based strategic missile units are part of the Air Force Strategic Air Command, which is headed by a commander who is directly subordinate operationally to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Strategic Air Command has missile divisions of intercontinental ballistic missiles, which include two wings of intercontinental Minuteman II and Titan II ballistic missiles apiece. A wing of Minuteman II missiles consists of three or four squadrons, each including five detachments with ten launch silos apiece and a launch control center. A Titan II wing consists of two squadrons with nine launch silos apiece. A wing also includes technical units for combat maintenance and supply. Each wing is stationed at one missile base. The French armed forces have medium-range land-based S-2 ballistic missiles. The Chinese armed forces have medium-range ballistic missiles and are developing intercontinental ballistic missiles.


50 let Vooruzhennykh Sil SSSR. Moscow, 1967.
Voennaia strategiia, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1963.
Grechko, A. A. Vooruzhennye Sily Sovetskogo gosudarstva. Moscow, 1974.
Iadernyi vek i voina: Voennye obozreniia. Moscow, 1964.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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