RK-55 Granat
(NATO reporting name: SSC-X-4 'Slingshot')
S-10 Granat (SS-N-21 'Sampson')

RK-55 Transporter-Erector-Launcher
Type surface/sub-launched nuclear cruise missile
Place of origin Soviet Union
Service history
In service 1984
Used by Soviet Union / Russia
Production history
Designer L. V. Lyulev
Designed 1975
Manufacturer Novator
Produced 1976
Weight 1,700 kg (3,750 lb)
Length 809 cm (26 ft 7 in)
Diameter 51 cm (20.1 in)
Warhead Conventional
Blast yield Nuclear 200kt [1]

Engine Solid-propellant rocket booster + R-95-300 turbofan
450 kgf
Wingspan 310 cm (122.0 in)
3,000 km (1,600 nmi)[2]
Speed 720 km/h (447.4 mph)
Sprut inertial guidance plus TERCOM
Akula-class submarine, Sierra II, Victor III, Yankee Notch, Yasen-class submarine, TEL
The Grusha-class submarine carried up to forty S-10's in tubes behind the sail

The Novator RK-55 Granat (Russian: РК-55 Гранат 'Garnet'; NATO: SSC-X-4 'Slingshot'; GRAU: 3K10) was a Soviet land-based cruise missile with a nuclear warhead. It was about to enter service in 1987 when such weapons were banned under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. A version launched from submarine torpedo tubes, the S-10 Granat (SS-N-21 'Sampson'; GRAU: 3M10), has apparently been converted to carry conventional warheads and continues in service to this day.[3]

The RK-55 is very similar to the air-launched Kh-55 (AS-15 'Kent') but the Kh-55 has a drop-down turbofan engine[4] and was designed by MKB Raduga. Both have formed the basis of post-Cold-War missiles, in particular the Sizzler which has a supersonic approach phase.[5]


In the late 1960s, the "Ekho" study conducted by the GosNIIAS institute concluded that it would be more effective to deploy lots of small, subsonic cruise missiles than the much more expensive supersonic missiles then in favour.[6] In 1971 Raduga began working on the air-launched Kh-55, which first flew in 1976.[4] That same year, RK-55 first flew.[5] NPO Novator would work on the submarine- and ground-launched versions. In 1993 Novator exhibited the Sizzler series weapons, which appears to be based on the RK-55.[5] It is a two-stage design, which goes supersonic during its final approach to the target.


Six RK-55 missiles are carried on an eight-wheeled transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) based on the MAZ 543 launcher of the R-17 (SS-1 'Scud B').[7]

The S-10 is launched through 533 mm torpedo tubes.

Operational history

Fewer than 100 SS-N-21s had been deployed by the end of 1988.[2] The new Akula-class submarine, launched in September 1986, was the first class to receive the new missile.[8] It was later fitted to the Sierra I/II class and eight Victor III's and the new Yasen-class submarines.[8]

The Grusha-class submarine deployed in 1988[2] is a design of particular note, replacing the missile launchers on a ballistic submarine with tubes dedicated to large numbers of cruise missiles. They were probably nuclear-tipped RK-55's during the Cold War, and then converted to use conventional warheads for land attack[8] after the START I treaty restricted sub-launched nuclear cruise missiles. The US Navy has done the same on a grander scale with the SSGN conversions of four Ohio-class submarines. It has been suggested that RK-55's could in future be fitted to converted Delta class submarines, or to surface ships, but these have not been confirmed.[5]

The ground-launched variant was subject to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed in December 1987 and had been tested but not deployed by that time.[9] 80 missiles had been destroyed by November 1990.[10]


Conventional unitary High Explosive (HE) warhead and submunition warhead versions of the RK-55 have probably been developed, to justify the continuing service of the submarines that carry them.[5]




Similar weapons

Notes and references

  1. SIPRI (1989) p16
  2. 1 2 3 Norris, Cochran; et al. (1989), SIPRI Yearbook 1989: World Armaments and Disarmament (PDF), p. 21
  3. CSIS Missile Threat - SS-N-21 (RK-55)
  4. 1 2 "Kh-55 (AS-15 'Kent'/Kh-555/RKV-500/Kh-65)", Jane's Strategic Weapon Systems, 2009-09-09, archived from the original on February 4, 2009, retrieved 2009-02-04
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 "RK-55 Granat (SS-N-21 'Sampson'/3M10)", Jane's Strategic Weapon Systems, 2008-09-10, retrieved 2009-02-04
  6. "Kh-55/RKV-500A, Kh-55SM/RKV-500B, Kh-555 and Kh-65SE (AS-15 'Kent')", Jane's Air-Launched Weapons, 2008-08-01, archived from the original on June 4, 2009, retrieved 2009-02-06
  7. "RK-55 (SSC-X-4 'Slingshot' and 3K10 Granat)", Jane's Strategic Weapon Systems, 2008-09-12, retrieved 2009-02-04
  8. 1 2 3 "SS-N-21 'Sampson' (P-1000 3M70 Vulkan/3M10 Granat)", Jane's Naval Weapon Systems, 2009-01-08, archived from the original on September 15, 2008, retrieved 2009-02-04
  9. Thomson, David B. (July 1999), A Guide to the Nuclear Arms Control Treaties LA-UR-99-3173 (PDF), Los Alamos National Laboratory, p. 131
  10. Thomson (1999) p127

CSIS Missile Threat - SS-N-21 (RK-55)

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