Soviet Union Table of Contents
The Strategic Rocket Forces, the newest Soviet armed service, in 1989 were the preeminent armed service, based on the continued importance of their mission. Their prestige had diminished somewhat, however, because of an increasing emphasis on conventional forces.
The Strategic Rocket Forces were the main Soviet force used for attacking an enemy's offensive nuclear weapons, its military facilities, and its industrial infrastructure. They operated all Soviet ground-based intercontinental, intermediate-range, and medium-range nuclear missiles with ranges over 1,000 kilometers. The Strategic Rocket Forces also conducted all Soviet space vehicle and missile launches.
In 1989 the 300,000 Soviet soldiers in the Strategic Rocket Forces were organized into six rocket armies comprised of three to five divisions, which contained regiments of ten missile launchers each. Each missile regiment had 400 soldiers in security, transportation, and maintenance units above ground. Officers manned launch stations and command posts underground.
In 1989 the Strategic Rocket Forces had over 1,400 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), 300 launch control centers, and twenty-eight missile bases. The Soviet Union had six types of operational ICBMs; about 50 percent were heavy SS-18 and SS-19 ICBMs, which carried 80 percent of the country's land-based ICBM warheads. In 1989 the Soviet Union was also producing new mobile, and hence survivable, ICBMS. A reported 100 road-mobile SS25 missiles were operational, and the rail-mobile SS-24 was being deployed.
The Strategic Rocket Forces also operated SS-20 intermediaterange ballistic missiles (IRBMs) and SS-4 medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs). Two-thirds of the road-mobile Soviet SS-20 force was based in the western Soviet Union and was aimed at Western Europe. One-third was located east of the Ural Mountains and was targeted primarily against China. Older SS-4 missiles were deployed at fixed sites in the western Soviet Union. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), signed in December 1987, called for the elimination of all 553 Soviet SS-20 and SS-4 missiles within three years (see Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Arms Control , ch. 17). As of mid-1989, over 50 percent of SS-20 and SS-4 missiles had been eliminated.
Data as of May 1989