Nuclear Warhead Delivery Systems for the Warsaw Pact, 1961-65:
In summer 1965, a study carried out by the American secret service, the CIA, came to the conclusion that, in just a few years, the Warsaw Pact had been transformed from an organization existing only on paper into an important element of Soviet security and military policy. Moreover, it showed that the USSR had, since the beginning of the 1960s, been engaged in a successful program to boost the military potential of its East European allies and turn the Warsaw Pact into an effective military structure.
Documents from the Russian State Archives of Economics and the German Federal Military Archives on the Reorganization and Modernization of the Armed Forces of the Soviet Bloc,
by Matthias Uhl
The material published in this paper, taken from the records of the State Planning Commission (GOSPLAN) in the Russian State Archives of Economics, will show that one of the most important foundations for this radical transformation of the Warsaw Pact was laid at the meeting of the Political Consultative Committee (PCC) held in Moscow on 28 and 29 March 1961. At that meeting, Nikita S. Khrushchev, Walter Ulbricht, and the other communist bloc party leaders and heads of state, in addition to discussing a solution to the increasingly acute crisis in Berlin, also decided to implement a comprehensive program to rearm and modernize the armies of the East European member states of the Warsaw Pact.
The goal was to bring the armed forces of the USSR's European allies into line with the new military strategy of the Soviet Union. Since the mid-1950s, there had been dramatic changes in Soviet defense research, primarily owing to extremely rapid developments in atomic and missile technology.The planners in the Soviet Army General Staff assumed that the crucial factor in a war, envisaged as a world conflict involving the mass use of nuclear weapons, would be the initial phase. Accordingly, the level of combat readiness of the Warsaw Pact armed forces, and their access to the latest technology and weapons, had to be such that the "imperialist enemy" would be unable to achieve any decisive initial advantage through a sudden attack with nuclear weapons and missiles. Instead, the Pact's own troops would carry out "Blitzkrieg-fast" operations to destroy the enemy's nuclear weapons and immediately go on the offensive. This meant preparing not only the Soviet army, but also the Warsaw Pact forces "for offensive actions to crush the enemy as quickly as possible in its own territory."To achieve this goal, however, it would be necessary to modernize the armies of the USSR's allies and equip them with the most recent Soviet advances in armaments.
To that end, between 1962 and 1965, the armed forces of the GDR, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, and Hungary were to be provided with the following: more than 880 fighter aircraft, 555 helicopters, 6075 tanks, 17,312 armored vehicles, 554 radar stations, 41,440 radio sets, and a large amount of other equipment. At the same time, on instructions from the USSR, a start was made on equipping the armies of all these countries for the first time with state-of-the-art missile weapons. This was to involve supplying them with S-75 Dvina/SA-2 Guideline anti-aircraft missiles, 3M6 Shmel/AT-1 Snapper anti-tank missiles, S-2 Sopka/SSC-2b Samlet coastal defense missiles, K-13/AA-2 Atoll air-to-air missiles, and P-15 Termit/SS-N-2 Styx ship-to-ship missiles. In total, the armies of the USSR's European allies were to use these weapons to establish the following new units equipped with guided missiles by the end of 1965: 104 anti-aircraft missile units, 84 anti-tank missile batteries, and five coastal defense missile batteries. At the same time, the navies of Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, and the GDR received a total of 28 missile patrol boats from the 205/OSA-1 project, serving as delivery systems for the P-15 Termit/SS-N-2 Styx sea-target missile. The total value of these predominantly Soviet arms deliveries to the Warsaw Pact nations between 1962 and 1965 has been estimated at over 2.8 billion rubles.To place this figure in context, in 1961, the USSR State Planning Committee estimated the value of total Soviet arms production for that year at 4.1 billion rubles.
In spite of this major expenditure, these planned arms deliveries fell far short of the requirement as determined by the Warsaw Pact Joint Supreme Command, which believed that an expenditure of over 4.4 billion rubles between 1961 and 1965 would be required for the rearmament and modernization of the armed forces. With that sum, the Soviet military heads of the Warsaw Pact aimed to supply more than 2334 fighter aircraft, 880 helicopters, 9040 tanks, and 22,017 armored personnel carriers to the armed forces of the USSR's Alliance partners.
The purchase of these armaments was beyond the economic and financial capacity of the Warsaw Pact member states. Accordingly, the Armaments Commission of the COMECON met in Moscow on 17 March 1961 with leading officials of the State Planning Commissions and the Chiefs of Staff of the Warsaw Pact nations, to discuss the issue of arms deliveries between 1962 and 1965. At the end of the meeting, the participants had agreed on the above-mentioned figure of 2.8 billion rubles and had formulated a draft resolution for the meeting of the PCC scheduled for late March, which was then duly approved by the Committee.
The presumption that this historic decision denoted an attempt by the political and military leadership of the Warsaw Pact to make significant changes and improvements in the military potential of the Eastern Alliance, regarded as inadequate at that time, is confirmed by further documents from the Russian State Archives of Economics. These documents show that the determination of the Soviet General Staff and Joint Supreme Command to boost the capacity of the Warsaw Pact armies was not restricted to conventional weapons. In its resolution of 29 March 1961, the PCC also stated that the armed forces of the Soviet Union Alliance partners would, for the first time, be equipped with theater and tactical nuclear weapon carriers.
This significantly increased the military strike power of the Alliance. More importantly, however, the Soviet military leadership was in this way bringing the Warsaw Pact armed forces into line with the new military doctrine of the USSR as announced by Khrushchev in early 1960. This doctrine was based on the extensive use of strategic, theater, and tactical nuclear weapons. The Soviet General Staff believed that a war between the blocs would be an intercontinental conflict, and also a war between coalitions. In their view, the principal weapons in the conflict would be nuclear weapons, with missiles as the main delivery system. To implement the strategy of a "comprehensive, all-out nuclear war," it was necessary to change the military structure of the Warsaw Pact and forge the armies of its member states into an effective combat force in the context of the use of nuclear weapons. Accordingly, the forces of the USSR's European allies under the Joint Supreme Command were equipped with tactical and theater nuclear weapon delivery systems, on instructions from the political and military leadership of the USSR.
To ensure the nuclear combat capability of all Warsaw Pact forces, the resolution of 29 March 1961 of the PCC provided for 14 R-11/SCUD missile brigades and 40 Luna/FROG missile units to be made available to the Pact member states. Each R‑11/SCUD brigade had a total of six launch pads from which missiles could be fired, with the capacity to carry nuclear warheads with an explosive force of up to 100 kilotons over a distance of 200 kilometers. Hungary and the GDR were each to receive one such brigade (costing 4.8 million rubles); Romania and Bulgaria were to receive two, Poland and Czechoslovakia four.
Whereas the purpose of the R-11/SCUD was the delivery of nuclear weapons at the army command level, the Luna/FROG missile complex was intended for delivery at divisional level. Soviet planning proceeded on the basis of the allocation of one Luna/FROG missile unit to each Warsaw Pact division. Each unit would have two launch pads and cost 190,000 rubles. The USSR charged a figure of 18,000 rubles per missile. The launching devices shot unguided missiles with the capacity to carry nuclear warheads with an explosive force of up to 20 kilotons, over a range of 40 kilometers. Since the USSR clearly had supply problems, given the higher priority assigned to equipping its own forces, it was initially possible to fully equip only the six GDR divisions with the missile complex. In the other Warsaw Pact countries, the numbers of weapon systems delivered were initially insufficient to equip all the units under the Joint Supreme Command. Poland, for example, which according to the protocol had 14 divisions under Warsaw Pact command, was allocated only eight Luna missiles units, and Romania received only five of the required eight units. 
This apparent preferential treatment accorded the GDR for the supply of nuclear missile delivery systems, clearly associated with its particularly important position within the Alliance, can also be discerned in the area of theater missiles. As early as the beginning of December 1960, the Joint Supreme Command informed the NVA (National People's Army of the GDR) leadership at a joint meeting that the GDR would be receiving R-11 missiles and launching systems as of 1962. Special training for the necessary officers and troops in the USSR began as early as February 1961, i.e. before the relevant resolution had been adopted by the PCC. Already at the beginning of 1963, the missile unit designated "Independent Artillery Brigade 2" was included in the group of NVA units placed under the command of the Joint Supreme Command of the Warsaw Pact. 
The supply of delivery systems for tactical nuclear warheads for the NVA took place even faster. The process of establishing the first Luna/FROG missile unit, in the guise of "Independent Artillery Unit 9," began in May 1962, and was completed following the delivery of Soviet hardware on 30 September 1962. Just a few weeks later, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the unit was already in "heightened combat readiness" and, accordingly, was among the NVA troops under the command of the Warsaw Pact Joint Supreme Command.  By the end of 1962, two more tactical missile units had become operational, and by May 1963 all six of the active NVA divisions were fully equipped with the Luna weapon system. 
In contrast to the GDR, the other member states of the Warsaw Pact in most cases received approval from the Soviet Union for the supply of theater and tactical nuclear missile delivery systems only in 1962. However, the supply of nuclear weapon delivery systems required not only the adoption of a resolution by the PCC, but also a further two resolutions from the USSR Council of Ministers and the relevant bilateral government-to-government agreements.The Soviet Head of State and Party Chairman then notified the First Secretaries of each of the "brother States" of the Warsaw Pact in writing of the forthcoming delivery.
However, while this meant that the Warsaw Pact member states had acquired nuclear weapon carriers, decisions on the use of atomic warheads remained the sole preserve of the USSR. In the early 1960s, Soviet Defense Ministry plans envisaged the following scenario for the use of nuclear weapons by the Warsaw Pact allies. In a period of tension, the nuclear warheads - up to that point kept in the Soviet Union - would be taken by Soviet special commando units to the respective countries of destination and distributed to the missile units of the allied forces. Specialists from the USSR would then supervise the loading of the warheads on the missiles and give clearance for their use in combat. Thus, the nuclear weapons of the Warsaw Pact armies would remain under Soviet control at all times, right up to the moment of launching.The decision on the initial use of nuclear weapons was the exclusive responsibility of the Commander-in-Chief of Soviet armed forces, i.e. the General Secretary of the CPSU, while detailed operational planning for tactical and theater/tactical atomic weapons was carried out by the national command structures of the Warsaw Pact member states, in consultation with Soviet commanders and advisers.
The documents of the Armaments Commission of the COMECON for the meeting of the PCC in March 1961 also provide some interesting insights into the situation within the Warsaw Pact at that time. Generally, the most surprising aspect concerns the wide discrepancies in the defense spending levels of the member states of the Warsaw Pact. In 1959, the GDR spent the least amount on military purposes of any country in the Alliance, at a per capita equivalent of 15 rubles, while Czechoslovakia spent the most, at 56 rubles per capita. This put Czechoslovakia's defense spending at a level significantly higher than even that of the USSR, which in 1960 had a per capita expenditure of approximately 45 rubles.  Accordingly, it is little wonder that the GDR had the highest debts to the USSR of any of the Eastern Alliance partners for the purchase of defense equipment. By 1960, this debt had already reached over 183 million rubles, as compared with Czechoslovakia's debt for arms supplies at that time of just 4.5 million rubles.On the one hand, these figures show that the individual members of the Warsaw Pact Alliance did not enjoy equal status. In the eyes of the USSR, a favorable strategic and political goodwill could justify preferential treatment of certain member states, and if those states also had major economic problems, the Soviet Union would take measures to reduce the financial and economic burdens resulting from membership of the Alliance. However, the example of Czechoslovakia also shows that the other Alliance partners had to compensate for the effects of this Soviet policy in the form of increased military spending.
The most striking feature of the comparisons between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, in terms of combat capability and weapons potential, as submitted to the PCC in March 1961, was the drastic overestimation of the capacity of the Western military alliance. It is not clear what data provided the basis for the Soviet assessments. The intention was presumably to increase the pressure on the Warsaw Pact member states to boost their level of commitment to building up the Alliance. In so doing, the USSR was endeavoring to free up sorely needed resources for the reinforcement and modernization of its own armed forces. Notwithstanding all its efforts to increase the combat capability of the Warsaw Pact, equipping its own troops was still the highest priority.
Already in 1963, the USSR Defense Ministry's procurement budget, at over 5.866 billion rubles, was double the total arms and modernization program for the Warsaw Pact for 1962 to 1965.The aim of this spending was to equip the Soviet armed forces, within one year, with over 200 intercontinental missiles, 320 medium-range missiles, 375 theater/tactical missiles, and 900 tactical missiles. Other procurement plans included the purchase of 2320 tanks, 855 fighters and fighter-bombers, 95 strategic bombers, 160 transport aircraft, 465 helicopters and 9 nuclear submarines.
This shows quite conclusively that, in spite of increased efforts from the beginning of the 1960s towards giving increased prominence to the Warsaw Pact, the Soviet Union relied on its own forces and resources when it came to military and security issues. The political and military leadership of the USSR saw the Eastern Alliance as merely an additional instrument of its own military and security policy.
MATTHIAS UHL specializes in Soviet military and security issues. He wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on the transfer of German long-range guided weapons technology to the USSR and the build-up of Soviet missile industry, 1945-1959. Currently, he is a senior researcher at the Berlin office of the Institute for Contemporary History (Munich), working on a larger project on the 1958/62 Berlin Crisis.
 Cf. draft resolution of the PCC of the Warsaw Pact (bearing the following handwritten note "confirmed 29 March, 1961," Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv ekonomiki (Russian State Archives of Economics - hereinafter referred to as RGAE), 4372/79/659 (the archive number comprises the repository, record, and file numbers, separated by oblique strokes), p. 96 - Ross A. Johnson, Robert W. Dean, Alexander Alexiev, Die Streitkräfte des Warschauer Pakts in Mitteleuropa: DDR, Polen und ČSSR (Stuttgart 1982), pp. 31-32.
 Cf. Vladislav M. Zubok and Hope M. Harrison, "The Nuclear Education of Nikita Khrushchev," in: Cold War Statesmen Confront the Bomb: Nuclear Diplomacy since 1945, ed. John Lewis Gaddis, Philip H. Gordon, Ernest R. May, and Jonathan Rosenberg (Oxford 1999), pp. 150-54.
 Speech of the Soviet Minister of Defense, Marshal Rodion Iakovlevich Malinovskii, on the evaluation of a Command exercise by the GSSD and the NVA, May 1961, Bundesarchiv-Militärarchiv (Federal Military Archive) in Freiburg i. Br. (hereinafter referred to as: BA-MA), DVW-1/5203, p. 7.
 Cf. note on fulfillment of requirements of the armies of the Warsaw Pact countries for military hardware from 1961 to 1965, March 1961, RGAE, 4372/79/792, pp. 106-07.
 Cf. report from GOSPLAN to the Central Committee of the CPSU on the expected fulfillment of production requirements for arms deliveries, December 20, 1961, RGAE, 4372/79/759, p. 36.
 Cf. draft text of speech by Deputy Chairman of GOSPLAN, Mikhail V. Khrunichev, for the meeting of the PCC "On arms production specialization in the Warsaw Pact countries and mutual supply of military hardware," 27 March 1961, RGAE, 4372/79/792, pp. 84-85 - draft resolution of the PCC of the Warsaw Pact (bearing the handwritten note "confirmed 29 March 1961"), 19 March 1961, RGAE, 4372/79/759, pp. 96-98.
 Cf. note on fulfillment of the requirements of the armies of the Warsaw Pact countries for military hardware from 1961 to 1965, March 1961, RGAE, 4372/79/792, pp. 106-07 - Zur geschichtlichen Entwicklung und Rolle der Nationalen Volksarmee der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik, edited by the Militärgeschichtliches Institut der DDR [GDR Military History Institute] (Potsdam 1974), p. 200. Up until the GDR ceased to exist, this outline of the history of the NVA was regarded as secret, and hence as an item of classified information.
 Cf. Istoriia voennoi strategii Rossii, edited by V.A. Zolotareva (Moscow 2000), pp. 402-08 - W.D. Sokolowski, Militär-Strategie (Cologne 1965), pp. 275-97.
 Cf. appendix to draft resolution of the PCC of the Warsaw Pact - lists of arms deliveries for the respective member states, 1962-1965, March 1961, RGAE, 4372/79/792, pp. 24-65. For more detailed information on the R-11 and Luna nuclear weapon delivery systems, see Harald Nielsen: Die DDR und die Kernwaffen: Die nukleare Rolle der Nationalen Volksarmee im Warschauer Pakt (Baden-Baden 1998).
 Cf. record of discussions of the Joint Command on 1-2 December 1960, December 1960, BA-MA, AZN 32594, pp. 59-71 - Kunze, Martin: "Das nukleare Trägerpotential der Nationalen Volksarmee," in: Im Gleichschritt? Zur Geschichte der DDR, edited by Walter Jablonsky and Wolfgang Wünsche, Berlin 2001, pp. 201-08.
 According to the minutes of the Joint Command meeting of 31 March 1961, the following combat troops of the NVA were under Warsaw Pact command in peacetime: 1 missile brigade (R-11), 4 motorized infantry divisions, 2 armored divisions, 3 training regiments, 2 artillery regiments, and 2 anti-aircraft regiments. The air force provided 2 air defense divisions, comprising a total of 5 anti-aircraft missile regiments and 6 fighter squadrons, and also 1 helicopter squadron, 1 signal regiment, and 8 ground support battalions. The entire combat naval resources of the Volksmarine [People's Navy], comprising 4 frigates, 18 corvettes, 12 missile patrol boats, 27 large torpedo boats, 45 small torpedo boats, 12 minelayers, 24 minesweepers, and 18 landing craft, plus 1 Sopka missile battery, were also under the command of the Joint Supreme Command. Further security and supply units of the NVA were also included, such as reconnaissance, sapper, intelligence, signal and transport troops. In total, already in peacetime there were 90,000 men under the command of the military leadership of the Warsaw Pact. Only the Ministry of National Defense, the training facilities, and the military district (Wehrbezirk and Wehrbereich) commands remained under the command of the GDR. For a defense situation, at the beginning of the 1960s, a further three (mobilization) divisions and newly formed troop formations were to be placed under the command of the Joint Supreme Command. The combat strength of the NVA forces was stated in the protocol in 1961 as at around 200,000 men. Another 40,000 to 50,000 men were to serve as territorial defense troops, and would therefore have been under the command of the Ministry of National Defense rather than the Warsaw Pact. Cf. breakdown of target strengths of the NVA prepared for the Chief of Staff of the Joint Armed Forces, Army General Aleksei Innokentevich Antonov, 30 January 1962, BA-MA, AZN 32871, pp. 37-47. See also Heinrich Engelhardt, "Das Mobilmachungssystem der NVA," in: NVA: Anspruch und Wirklichkeit; nach ausgewählten Dokumenten, ed. Klaus Naumann (Hamburg-Berlin-Bonn 19962), pp. 301-16 - Fritz Streletz: "Das Nationale Verteidigungsrat der DDR und das Vereinigte Oberkommando des Warschauer Vertrages," in: Rührt euch! Zur Geschichte der Nationalen Volksarmee der DDR, ed. Wolfgang Wünsche, pp. 130-73.
 Cf. Kunze, Das nukleare Trägerpotential, pp. 214-23. The reason for the prompt delivery of the missiles may have been an exchange of letters to this effect between Ulbricht and Khrushchev, in which the East German Head of State and Party Chairman, immediately after the meeting of the Armaments Committee of COMECON held on 17 March, requested that priority be given to the missile deliveries. See letter from the Minister of National Defense, Army General Heinz Hoffmann, to the Commander-in-Chief of the Joint Command, Marshal Andrei Antonovich Grechko, 24 March 1961, BA-MA, AZN 32598, pp. 1-2.
 Cf. letter from Malinovskii, Riabikov, and Arkhipov for the CC of the CPSU, July 6, 1962, RGAE, 4372/80/298, p. 312.
 Cf. letter from Khrushchev to Kadar, January 1962, RGAE, 4372/80/298, p. 18.
 Cf. draft resolution of the USSR Council of Ministers on the delivery of an R-11 missile brigade to Hungary, January 1962, RGAE, 4372/80/298, pp. 8-12. The Soviet Union did not charge any of the costs for the storage of warheads in the USSR on to its Alliance partners. For details on the handing over and installation of nuclear warheads, see Nielsen, Die DDR und die Kernwaffen, pp. 115-35, and Kunze, Das nukleare Trägerpotential, pp. 228-30. Here, too, an exception applied in the case of the GDR. The atomic warheads allocated to the NVA under the command of the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany (GSSD) were already located on East German territory. In the mid-1960s, the GDR had built two nuclear warhead depots for this purpose, handed over for the use of the GSSD on completion. The facilities near Stolzenhain and Himmelpfort each had the capacity to house up to 120 nuclear warheads. Himmelpfort was to supply the 3rd Army of the NVA (Military District III), to be formed in the event of war, with atomic warheads, and the Stolzenhain depot was designed to supply the requirements of the 5th Army (Military District V) for nuclear weapons. See inter alia Manfred van Heerde, Stahltür 01-2001: Kernsprengkopflager 5001 der Sowjetischen Streitkräfte in Deutschland (Frankfurt/Oder 2001) - "Geheimes Atomwaffenlager in Deutschland," production of the Galileo unit of the Pro Sieben television channel, 28 February 2002.
 Cf. study material for the Chiefs of Staff of the NVA: Die Angriffsoperation einer allgemeinen Armee in der Anfangsperiode eines Krieges [Offensive operations of a general army in the initial period of a war], 5 December 1958, BA-MA, DVW-1/4358, p. 95 - Combat order for the 35th Army Corps of the NVA in the "Nordwind" exercise, 28 June 1962, DVW-1/5195, pp. 338-41.
Cf. note No. 8 - approximate per capita defense expenditure in the Warsaw Pact, 1961, RGAE, 4372/79/792, p. 141.
 Cf. note on the expenditure of Warsaw Pact countries on purchases of military hardware from the USSR, 1961, RGAE, 4372/79/792, p. 114.
 Cf. note on arms deliveries to the Soviet Ministry of Defense between 1961-1963, September 24, 1962, RGAE, 4372/80/185, p. 279.
 Cf. draft Armaments Production Plan in the USSR for 1963, no date, RGAE, 4372/80/183, pp. 1-13.
 Cf. Günther Wagenlehner, "Militärpolitik und Militärdoktrin der UdSSR," in: Die Sowjetunion als Militärmacht, ed. Hannes Adomeit, Hans-Herrmann Höhmann, and Günther Wagenlehner (Stuttgart-Berlin-Cologne-Mainz 1987), p. 20.