179. Intelligence Memorandum1

RR IM 67–24




There is mounting evidence that a significant slowdown occurred in the rate of silo construction starts in the Soviet SS–11 ICBM deployment program after mid–1966. Although new construction is continuing, it appears likely that the rate of construction starts for this relatively light payload ICBM has been cut back by more than 50 percent from the high rate attained in the first half of 1966. Curtailment of the rate of construction starts appears to have affected at least half of the ten SS–11 complexes—specifically, the earliest five complexes, where some 300 SS–11 silos have already been started or completed—and suggests that the entire program is tapering off even though it may continue for some time. It is believed that there are currently more than 500 SS–11 silos in the USSR, of which about 150 have been completed and are now operational. Virtually all of those now under construction are likely to become operational by mid–1968.

On the other hand, new silo construction for the USSR’s other current ICBM system, the heavy–payload SS–9, has continued into 1967 at a steady pace and there are clear indications that further construction starts are planned. There are an estimated 180 SS–9 silos in the USSR, including about 70 already operational; most of those that are now under construction will be operational by mid–1968.

The curtailment of the SS–11 program may indicate that the USSR is approaching its force goal for this ICBM system which, because of its limited accuracy and relatively small payload, is suitable primarily for attacking cities and other soft targets. However, the leveling off of the rate of silo starts for this system does not necessarily indicate that the [Page 555] USSR is approaching a programmed limit in deployment of ground–launched ICBM systems. Coinciding with the change in the SS–11 program, construction activity at new missile launch areas at the Tyuratam Test Range indicates that one and possibly two new systems are under development. As yet, there is no evidence to indicate whether the next round of deployment will replace or supplement the existing ICBM force, but the new systems may foreshadow the end of additional construction for one or both of the current deployment programs in the near term, perhaps during 1967.

On the basis of current evidence, the Soviet ICBM force will attain a level of some 900 operational launchers by mid–1968 and 1,000 or more by mid–1969, if there is no phase–out of earlier generation systems. While this number could be increased still further by the introduction of new systems, any substantial increment effected by these newer systems would be expected to occur in the 1970–75 period.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Intelligence File, TKH, August 66–July 67, Box 1. Top Secret; Ruff; Handle Via Talent–Keyhole Control System Only; No Foreign Dissem. An attached memorandum from R.J. Smith, Deputy Director of Intelligence, to Rostow, May 18, offers a one–paragraph summary of the intelligence memorandum.
  2. This memorandum was produced solely by CIA. It was prepared by the Office of Research and Reports and coordinated with the Office of National Estimates, the Foreign Missile and Space Analysis Center, and the Office of Current Intelligence; the estimates and conclusions represent the best judgment of the Directorate of Intelligence as of 1 May 1967. [Footnote in the source text.]