Intelligence: February 9, 2003


During the 1990s, the United States took advantage of the Soviet Union's collapse to buy a lot of Soviet made military equipment. While the Russians were reluctant to part with some of their best stuff, new nations, that were formerly part of the Soviet Union, were not. In this way, the U.S. acquired 29 SCUD missiles and their launchers. All the SCUD support equipment was bought as well. U.S. Army artillery troops were trained to operate the SCUDs and then turned lose on a number of training exercises to see what it was like to operate a SCUD unit out in the field. Still smarting from the Iraqi success in hiding their SCUDs from attack during the Gulf War, the American SCUDs were carefully scrutinized as they were put through their paces. Much was discovered about how mobile the SCUD launchers were in different types of terrain. Since it takes up to 90 minutes to get a SCUD ready to fire, there were lots of simulated, and real, fueling exercises to see if this made SCUDs any easier to see from the air, or by Special Forces patrols on the ground. Aircraft flew overhead, using standard American radars and cameras to see how difficult it was to spot hidden SCUDs. It turned out that it was pretty easy to hide SCUDs. But it became a lot easier to find them after these cat and mouse exercises were over. What new SCUD detection trick were picked up in these late 1990s exercises are, of course, being kept secret. If there's another war with Iraq, we'll find out if the simulated SCUD hunt worked. 




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