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Russia Scraps Nuclear Missile Trains

The system thoroughly unnerved the Pentagon because it was impossible to distinguish the BZHRKs from the thousands of regular freight trains traversing the Soviet Union.
Moscow, Russia (SPX) Jun 20, 2005
One of the most terrifying weapons of the Cold War is no more. On Wednesday, the Russian Federation scrapped the last of its 36 BZHRK nuclear trains.

While the official reason given for scrapping the system was "the expiration of the guaranteed life cycle," the BZHRK system's capabilities exceeded the newer Topol and Bulava missile systems.

The system thoroughly unnerved the Pentagon because it was impossible to distinguish the BZHRKs from the thousands of regular freight trains traversing the Soviet Union.

On a BZHRK train one carriage housed the command post while three others with collapsible roofs carried RT-23UTTKH Molodets (SS -24 Scalpel) missile launchers. Each missile division included up to five such systems.

BZHRKs were capable of covering up to nearly 1,000 miles in 24 hours. The missiles could be launched both from planned stopovers or any point of the route.

As the Pentagon could not determine which of "the freight trains" carried the nuclear missiles, Washington was forced to deploy a network of 18 spy satellites over the Soviet Union.

Russian rocketry men are certainly nostalgic for the system and claim that the future Topols and Bulavas are not worth even the warhead of a rail-mobile missile.

RIA Novosti reports that the USA tried to get rid of the BZHRKs as soon as the political situation allowed it. In the 1990s the USA secured an undertaking that the BZHRKs would stand still, rather than running across the country.

This allowed the Americans to keep a mere 3-4 spy satellites over Russia instead of the former 16-18. Then, they talked Russian politicians into eliminating the missile systems altogether, most likely after promising them some financing.

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