SS-1 (Scud) / 9P117
Battlefield Ballistic Missile System
The Soviet-era Scud mobile missile launcher rose to prominence during the televised 1991 Gulf War.
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The SS-1 (NATO reporting name of "Scud") was a tactical ballistic missile system developed in the 1950s for the Soviet Army. It was exported in number to various allies and customers and was eventually developed into localized variants by North Korea, Iraq, and Iran. Three major Soviet variants ultimately emerged beginning with "Scud-A" in 1957 and evolving through the "Scud-B" of 1954, the "Scud-C" of 1965, and the "Scud-D" of 1989. The Scud found notoriety in its televised use during the Gulf War with Iraq against civilian areas in Israel and Saudi Arabia with mixed success. Many operators have since given up on the type - a Cold War relic by modern standard - though continued use is still seen by some global armies in Armenia, Egypt, Libya, North Korea, Vietnam, and elsewhere.
The Scud missile component is set upon the 9P117 series 8x8 wheeled, heavy duty truck allowing for good mobility - the crew firing and then relocating the vehicle away from potential hunting aircraft. The vehicle was an armored hauler with split-cab design seating its diesel powerplant at front-center. The 8x8 wheeled arrangement utilized eight large road wheels across four axles, the set divided by a central crew compartment resulting in two forward axles and two rear. The missile component was seated over the top of the vehicle and included an integral powered system that raised the missile when readied to fire. Recoil legs were lowered at the rear of the vehicle chassis to help counter the effects of the launching missile. The crew would have to make sure they were in the cabin or far from the launch site when the missile ignited.
The original missile design was heavily influenced by captured German rocket data of World War 2 - in particular the V-2 terror rockets launched against England. The design firm of Korolyev was responsible for the research along with input from prisoner German scientists and engineers. The original version of the missile carried the "R-11" designation and then came the R-17 and the R-300 "Elbrus".
The missile measured at 36.9 feet with a weigh of 9,700lbs featuring variable warhead types. The 2,170lb warhead could be made up of a conventional, nuclear, or chemical payload to suit the battlefield role. Propulsion was by way of a single-stage, liquid-fueled design with an operational range out to 110 miles. Guidance was through an inertial-based arrangement leaving accuracy quite low in early models - an area of about 9,800 feet. This was mainly due to the missile's unguided navigation mechanism, particularly when its fuel was expended. The subsequent B-model featured a range of 190 miles with much improved accuracy (1,480 feet) while the C-model improved range again (340 miles) but lost some of its accuracy (2,300 feet). The most modern D-model fielded a range out to 190 miles and improved accuracy to within 160 feet. The missile hit speeds of Mach 5 in flight.
About 30 deaths in the Gulf War were attributed to Iraqi Scud missile attacks, proving more of a psychological terror weapon than a precision instrument of death.
Missile programs established across Pakistan, North Korea, and Iran moved ahead to continue development of the Soviet Scud to produce similar-minded battlefield missiles capable of reaching up to 930 miles in range. Add to this the capability to carry an explosive, chemical, biological, or nuclear payload and civilian quarters neighboring these states were always on alert. North Korean models have been the "Hwasong-5", "Hwasong-6", and "Rodong-1" series missiles. The Hwasong-6 became the "Shahab-2" in the Iranian inventory and began service in 1987. Upgraded Iraqi Scud-B missiles became the "Al-Hussein" and these saw service from 1987 into 1991.
Beyond its use in the 1991 Gulf War, the Scud series was also used in anger during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War. The line also saw use in the Afghanistan Civil War of 1989-1992. More recent use has been senn in the 1994 Yemeni Civil War, the 2011 Libyan War, and the ongoing Syrian Civil War which also originated in 2011.
The United States procured four launcher vehicles and some 30 Scud-B missiles in 1995. These were later converted into targets and disposed of.
The Russian Army has since replaced its stock of aged Scud launchers with the modern 9K720 "Iskander" (SS-26 "Stone") which was introduced in 2006. This weapon system features a missile range of 250 miles with accuracy within 5 meters and more advanced guidance systems.