Strategic Weapons: December 13, 2002


It's unknown how many SCUD missiles Iraq still has. Estimates range from a few to several dozen. At the start of the 1980-89 war with Iran, Iraq had over 300 SCUD type missiles. This gave Iraq half a dozen missiles per launcher. Despite vigorous efforts to destroy Iraq's SCUDs, over 80 were launched at Saudi Arabia and Israel. 

Iraq has at least four versions of the SCUD

Missile    Weight Warhead Length Range CEP

SCUD B      6.3      2000       37     300      900
SCUD C      6.5      1200       37     550      600
Al Hussein  7         1100       39     650    2000
Al Abbas     8          770       44     900    3000

Weight is in tons, warhead in pounds, length in feet, range in kilometers and CEP is Circular Area Probable, in meters, is the distance from the target within which 50 percent of missiles fired will land. The theoretical distance of the CEP is a bit better than the actual one.

The SCUD C is an improved version that Iraq had only a few of. The Iraqi Al Hussein and Al Abbas are Iraqi modifications of the SCUD B that involve making the missile longer, the warhead lighter and adding a larger fuel tank. These versions were built for the 1980-88 war with Iran, when over 500 SCUDs were fired at Baghdad and Tehran. These two cities were quite large, so the SCUD was bound to hit something, and someone. Each SCUD fired caused an average of 75 casualties. In 1988, the over four hundred SCUDs fired into Iran played a part in Iran calling off the war. Iran was only able to fire 77 SCUDs back at Iraq. In 1991, the SCUDs fired at Israel came close to getting Israel involved in the Persian Gulf war. Iraq obtained SCUDs from Russia, while Iran got most of its missiles from Libya and North Korea. Remember, the SCUD is basically an improved version of the German World War II V-2 ballistic missile. Still using corrosive liquid fuel, the SCUD has a better guidance system and longer range than the V-2. But basically it's 1940s technology. Crude, but effective if you are firing it at large targets like cities. 

Russia built as many as 7,000 SCUD missiles, and smaller numbers have been built by Egypt, Iran, Iraq and North Korea. These nations used Russian parts, as well as some they manufactured themselves or bought from other nations. Many of the components of a SCUD are off the shelf industrial stuff ("dual use" technology). After the Cold War, some 3,000 SCUD missiles and 700 launchers in Eastern Europe were supposed to have been destroyed. But the record keeping was sloppy and it is suspected that many of these "destroyed" missiles made it onto the black market. Russia apparently destroyed the few SCUDS it still had in use. SCUD B's can be sold on the world arms market for $3-5 million each. SCUD Cs got for up to twice that. Russia also developed a longer range (900 km) and more accurate SCUD D. Many suspect that the North Korean No Dong missile is actually a SCUD D.

Since the Gulf War, Iran has continued it's SCUD missile research, but Iraq has apparently not, except for shorter range missiles. This work, however, can be applied to longer range missiles once Iraq is free of UN restrictions on long range missile research.


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