A variant of the venerable S-75 surface-to-air missile, the RPDM-59 (“Ракета Анти-Дед Мороз”) was first unveiled in 1959. Consisting of a solid-fuel booster and a liquid-fuel upper stage, it had an operational range of 30 miles, was capable of interception at heights of up to 82,000 ft. at Mach 3.5.

Designed at the insistence of the First Secretary, the RPDM-59 was the first dedicated anti-Santa missile to enter service, beating the US M1970 “Rudolph” and Chinese Type 69 “聖誕老人” missiles by a decade or more. The primary difference was its accuracy and method of detonation: while an S-75 was accurate to 65 yards, the RPDM created a 100-yard diameter shrapnel burst that was effective against wood, plastic, and caribou. Extensive testing showed that even an armored sled loaded with metal toys would suffer an 80-90% kill rate at altitude when linked to a radio control command guidance system.

The idea behind the system was ostensibly to cripple the Western economy by interrupting the flow of Christmas presents, which represented the equivalent of 50 billion USD in hard currency injected into the First World every year. However, given the limited range of the S-75, this was never a realistic option even following the Cuban Revolution. Instead, RPDM-59 batteries were deployed in the Soviet Union (and China from 1960-64) to prevent any capitalist gift incursions. Crucially, Soviet propaganda at the time stressed that Ded Moroz, the “Grandfather Frost” of Slavic tradition, was not the intended target and could not be harmed. This was, in fact, a fabrication: the primitive state of Soviet IFF technology at the time meant that an RPDM-59 fired in anger was quite capable of bringing down Ded Moroz, Babbo Natale, or even Tawonga.

Despite a series of highly successful test firings against flying troikas pulled by mules, it was the IFF issue that ultimately scuttled the program. When the First Secretary was ousted in 1964, his successor continued the program until one of his grandchildren learned of its existence and asked why “Grandfather wanted to murder Ded Moroz.” All active units were dismantled by 1967 and converted back into standard S-75s. An improved model, the RPDM-66, had been under development, with a longer range, larger kill zone, and improved IFF, but the technology was ultimately not used, though the technical data package was later sold to North Korea for its own anti-Santa interdiction efforts. From its fifty years of continuous use there, with a nearly 100% intercept rate, it is clear that the basic weapon had considerable potential.

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