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Code Name Sickle

Exploring Russia’s mobile nuclear missile systems

Teykovo may be a small Russian town but it plays a big role in defending the country; it’s home to the Teykovo Missile Division, the military unit devoted to maintaining and operating Russia’s nuclear deterrent. It’s where Russia’s latest mobile missile systems, including the Topol-m – known to NATO as “Sickle”,  are put through their paces and the missile regiment soldiers are trained. RTD’s correspondent is given unique access to the formerly classified facility. He even gets the chance to drive an enormous MAZ missile carrier.

Manning the stations throughout the base are both army conscripts and regular military. They train constantly, using both computer simulations and real-world exercises. The soldiers throughout the complex remain constantly at the ready.

Global nuclear proliferation has led to the need for programmes which can protect against possible nuclear threats. Nuclear weapons and the threat of nuclear war are a constant reminder to the soldiers at Teykovo.

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We meet a former Soviet rocket scientist, who helped to design one of the first anti-nuclear rockets in complete secret. He comments on the fact that the Russian Federation is now much more open to the world, and shows us some of the old rocket models which are no longer in use.

Training on and operating one of the several mobile launch vehicles is one of the duties performed at the base. These giant vehicles are completely self-sufficient, and the operating personnel can eat, sleep, and work, all inside various sections of the behemoth, some of which look not unlike a train compartment from the inside.

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Another such nuclear deterrent facility is the Strategic Missle Defence in Znamensk, Astrakhan. Founded in 1947, this base is known as the Kapustin Yar Shooting Range.Here can be found Russia’s nuclear weapon storage. Many soldiers dream of witnessing a launch first-hand, as it is said to be quite an amazing sight.