Strategic Weapons: The Israeli ICBM


July 22, 2013: On July 12th Israel conducted another test of its Jericho 3 IRBM (Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile). This was described as a test of a new rocket motor design. The last Jericho 3 test was in 2011. In 2008, Israel completed development testing on the Jericho 3, which had actually gone into production the year before. With a range of over 5,000 kilometers (and perhaps over 10,000, which would make it an ICBM), the Jericho 3 can drop a nuke anywhere in the Middle East. Jericho 3 is a 30 ton, solid fuel, two-stage missile, with at least a one ton payload. This means one Jericho 3 could carry up to three nuclear warheads, each hitting a different target. There are believed to be at least a dozen Jericho 3s.

Israel is believed to have 50-100 of the shorter range Jericho 2s. This is a 26 ton missile with a max range of about 1,500 kilometers. The Jericho 1, developed with French assistance, entered service in 1973. This 500 kilometer range missile was gradually replaced by the Jericho 2, which entered service in 1989. Israel is believed to have as many as 200 nuclear warheads and can deliver them via ballistic missiles, submarine (cruise missiles launched from torpedo tubes) and aircraft.

The first two stages of the three-stage Shavit satellite launcher were the basis for the Jericho 3 design. The first launch of the Shavit was in 1988, and the current version (Shavit 2) can launch payloads as heavy as 800 kg (1,760 pounds). Israel sometimes uses launchers from other nations. In 2008, an Israeli radar satellite, TekSar (also called Ofek 8), was launched in India, using an Indian launcher. Israel is constantly using and upgrading the Shavit, and that apparently lead to upgrades for Jericho 3.



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