The late 1960s – early 1970s saw a qualitative leap in the development of strategic missile complexes. Many research institutes and design departments from different industries bent every effort to develop miniature computers, high-precision instrumentation for guidance and control systems, high-yield nuclear charges, enhanced propulsion systems, new approaches for silo hardening. A lot of theoretical and experimental work was done in rocket dynamics. All this laid the foundation for development of the third generation of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Missile designers took on several tasks to increase operational effectiveness of the missiles:

  1. Increase missile complex survival probability in all conditions.
  2. Increase probability of damaging of protected target facilities on an enemy’s territory.
  3. Increase autonomous stay time of missile complexes both while being threatened and after a non-damaging strike.
  4. Reduce time to put a missile on combat duty; achieve maximum automation of prelaunch operations.
  5. Increase missile complex guaranteed service life and life between maintenance operations.

One of the third-generation missile complex features was a ‘mortar launch’ from a transportation and launch container, or TLC. Yuzhnoye’s engineers nourished the idea of using the TLC and the mortar launch for a long time: this approach solved many problems related to missile launch preparation. In particular, it enabled

  1. Dispensing with a silo headwork, by placing the equipment on the TLC
  2. Using the full silo launcher volume
  3. Reducing the scope of work performed by launch support personnel, by transferring control functions to a command post
  4. Significant design simplification and the silo internal diameter reduction, by removing gas-collecting devices from the silo
  5. Increasing the silo hardening level.

Performance characteristics were also improved by using a digital computer complex based on an onboard computer.

The R-36М and R-36М UTTH missile complexes were developed, with 15А14 and 15А18 missiles carrying multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRV) with ten warheads; and the MR-UR100 and MR-UR100 UTTH missile complexes, with 15А15 and 15А16 missiles carrying MIRV with four warheads.

Yuzhnoye’s missiles of the third generation embodied all scientific and technological capabilities of the day. One of the achievements was a successful implementation of the mortar launch, which significantly increased the degree of missile protection.