For the first time since 2005, Russia is set to resume the manufacturing of its “death trains” – covert railway complexes with ballistic missiles – but on a higher technological level which will make them even more untraceable now.
The Soviet Union decided to produce combat railway missile complexes (BZhRKs) with ballistic missiles in 1969 in response to the US’ powerful system of nuclear-capable submarines.
The USSR operated 12 BZhRKs with three missile launchers each, and it was an efficient and intimidating solution. The vehicles traveled across the system of railroads on the country’s vast territory and closely resembled ordinary cargo trains, bringing to naught the capabilities of satellite surveillance.
As it was impossible to precisely determine the place where they could fire a nuclear missile, they were dubbed as “death” or “phantom” trains.
In 2005, Russia decommissioned the trains. Ten years later Moscow has decided to embark on the idea again.
Russian military industry official Viktor Murakhovsky explained the advantages of the next-generation nuke trains:
“They will not need any specific big cars. They will completely coincide with the existing parameters of railcars and will therefore be completely hidden from a foe’s reconnaissance and surveillance. Moreover, the system will enable launches virtually everywhere on the railway bed in contrast with the previous system that required special launch conditions.”
The new project, codenamed “Barguzin,” will carry six ICBMs RS-24 Yars (a land equivalent of the submarine-launched Bulava).
A Russian BZhRK’s cars can resist an explosion of a nuclear warhead just several hundred meters away. Such a train can run for a month autonomously and pass up to 1,000 kilometers daily at the speed of nearly 100 kmph.