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One of the most menacing weapons of the Cold War, the Pioneer mobile medium-range missile became the first strategic weapon to be iliminated under arms control agreements reached by the Soviet Union and the United States in the second half of the 1980s.

The development of the Pioneer complex started in 1971 at Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology, or MIT, led by Alexander Nadiradze. The first Pioneer missiles were deployed near the town of Petrikov in the Soviet republic of Belarus in August 1976. By 1986, total 441 launchers were deployed.

Pioneer missile tech dossier:

Number of stages
Flight range

4,700 kilometers

Length of the vehicle

16.49 meters

Maximum diameter
1.79 meters
Liftoff mass (fueled)
37 tons
First launch 1974 Sept. 21
Test site Kapustin Yar
Warhead mass

Three warheads with the total mass of 1.6 tons


The Soviet Pioneer missile (left) next to its US contemporary -- the Pershing-2. Both are medium-range missiles. Copyright © 2001 by Anatoly Zak

A mobile MAZ carrier of the Pioneer missile. Copyright © 2001 by Anatoly Zak