Soviet missile ”Tempest” - a project without a future (Topic)

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Soviet missile ”Tempest” - a project without a future


In the 50s, the USSR developed the project of the world's first supersonic cruise missile with two stages - "Tempest".

Its emergence was facilitated by the global political environment, forcing us to act ahead of the curve in the field of nuclear weapons.

Prerequisites for creation

The appearance of the atomic, and later the hydrogen bomb did not yet speak of a reliable nuclear defense of the USSR. Weapons had to be able to use, which required new solutions from Soviet engineers to develop strategic carriers capable of transporting atomic weapons to the required territory. Such means (bombers) already existed, but the emergence of air defense and anti-aircraft guided missiles became a prerequisite for the creation of fundamentally new, more reliable "deliveries" of a nuclear bomb.

One of the options for resolving the issue was the development of an apparatus capable of flying at a speed greater than sound in order to ensure the delivery of an atomic charge to the right place. After preliminary research, two directions were identified. One of them was the work on the creation of ballistic missiles (ICBMs), the second - the design of cruise missiles (MCR). Since both directions were divided by departments, there was a hidden competition between the designers who would complete the project faster and better with a planned flight range of 8,000 km.

First starts

In 1954, work began on the creation of a supersonic winged vehicle. The project was named "The Tempest". The rocket, consisting of two stages, weighing 90 tons and a titanium hull, was supposed to fly 8000 km according to the plan. A reliable liquid engine providing vertical start and further climb was placed in the first stage. The second stage with wings was equipped with an air-jet engine for the entire route. The deflection of the rocket from the intended end point was no more than 1000 meters.


The first tests of the "Tempest" started in 1957, and for the first time the main launch (successful) took place a year later. During several launches, the rocket showed a maximum for that period - the device at a speed of 3300 km / h covered a distance of 1350 km, during another flight at a speed of 3500 km / h - a distance the route was 1760 km, respectively.

In the USSR at that time, not a single development traveled such distances. At the time of one of the next launches, the Tempest already covered 4000 km with the astronavigation mechanism, which became an absolute record figure. After completing the planned program, the device turned around and then guided itself by radio signals. The most recent flight (6500 km) was made in 1960.

End of project

The last launch of the device marked the closure of the Tempest project. By that time, the Soviet army had already had an intercontinental ballistic missile of the R-7 modification designed by Korolev. Also, by 1960, there were other missile options that opposed any air defense of that period, having better flight performance and a fairly simple device.


S. Lavochkin - the main developer of the "Buri" tried to defend his invention with the justification that the project of a winged aircraft with unique tactical characteristics should not be closed. The designer recommended using the Tempest as a long-range reconnaissance drone or as a target missile, but the project still did not receive further development.

The Topic of Article: Soviet missile ”Tempest” - a project without a future.
Author: Jake Pinkman