Armoured ‘Rolls’ on Russian tracks

The "Molodets" rail-mobile ballistic missile system. Source: Lori / Legion Media

The "Molodets" rail-mobile ballistic missile system. Source: Lori / Legion Media

Russia’s special trains, outfitted with armour military technology, first appeared during World War I, and protected the country through the 20th century. Armoured trains, large-calibre artillery installations and rail-based missile systems continue service in Russia today. We look at three of the most unusual special-purpose trains.

1. The logistics train

This train is not used in combat and works for back end operations because it is not armour-plated. The train provides all the functional requirements troops need: from bathing, washing uniforms to disinfecting soldiers. The logistics train is equipped with every modern communication device, allowing staff officers to perform their duties; from radio, telephone, telegraph, satellite and video conferencing technology. A 2MW electric power generator (the power capacity of a small factory) on board makes the train energy-independent. The logistics train was part of the Centre 2015 exercises, held in September in the Central Military District.

2. The combat rail missile system

Combat rail missile systems can respond to a nuclear strike, in the unlikely event of an attack. The USSR had 12 specialized trains with 15P961 Molodets missile systems installed. Each train contained three strategic missiles with 10 Stilet warheads.

The combat rail missile system. Museum of railway equipment. Source: PhotoXPress

Combat rail missile systems were on combat duty from 1987 to 1994, after which, under the terms of the START II treaty, Russia pledged to liquidate all the RT-23 Molodets missiles. In 2013 the Russian government decided to revive the combat rail missile systems.

The new rail missile system, camouflaged as refrigerated cars, will be equipped with the new Russian intercontinental ballistic missile with the Yars multiple warhead.

3. Armored train

During the antiterrorist operation in the North Caucasus between 2002 and 2009 the military created an entire group of armored trains. Former Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov ordered the special trains to be removed for conservation, but current Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu decided to return the trains to service.

The main objectives of the modern special armored trains are to protect civilian and military trains, as well as to prevent terrorist acts intended to sabotage railroad tracks, as the armored trains are transporting personnel.

Currently, Russia has four armored trains – the Baikal, Terek, Amur and Don. They served in the late 1980s on the Soviet-Chinese border.

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