Fractional Orbital Bombardment System

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Fractional Orbital Bombardment System ( FOBS for short ) is the English translation of a former Soviet missile system with partial orbit that uses a missile to park a nuclear warhead in low earth orbit before deployment . The warhead had to reach the first cosmic speed of around 8 km / s (28,000 km / h), which requires powerful ICBMs (see space weapon ).

Any point on earth over which the flight path leads could be reached from orbit. In order to head for a target, the warhead had to be braked at a suitable time.

FOBS was tested by the Soviet Union with the R-36-O rocket during the Cold War from 1965 . Dummy warheads were launched from Baikonur in the direction of the South Pole . They were slowed down again shortly before the end of the first orbit and hit a test site in Znamensk near Astrakhan .

After the successful completion of the tests, the first FOBS missiles were put into service on August 25, 1969. A total of 18 launch silos for the R-36-O, each with a warhead with an explosive force of 1-3 megatons, were built in Baikonur.

In contrast to conventional ballistic delivery systems, in which the warheads follow a trajectory parabola after the missiles have burned out and the trajectory thus has a high apex, a warhead only appears in a relatively short distance to the target above the horizon in a low orbit . Therefore, the time span between braking and detonating the warhead in the target area is only a few minutes, so that the advance warning time is very short . This later led to the ban on FOBS weapon systems by the SALT II treaty. From 1982 the launch systems were decommissioned. The last R-36-O was removed in February 1983, later all 18 silos and the associated equipment were destroyed.

See also


  • Herbert York : Star Wars: Origins and overview , pp. 215, 220. In: David Carlton, Carlo Schaerf (Ed.): Arms race in the era of Star Wars. Macmillan, 1988, pp. 213-231.