Jericho 2 is a medium-range, solid-fueled ballistic missile developed and produced by Israel. It is also the basis for Israel’s Shavit satellite launch vehicle. Currently operational, Jericho 2 is expected to be phased out by 2026 and replaced by the Jericho 3.1
Jericho 2 at a Glance
- Originated from
- Possessed by
- Alternate names
- Medium-range Ballistic Missile (MRBM)
- TEL vehicle, silo-based, railcar-based
- 15.0 m
- 1.35 m
- Launch weight
- 22,000 kg
- Single warhead
- High explosive, nuclear
- Two-stage solid propellant
- 1,500 – 3,500 km
- In service
- 1989 – present
Jericho 2 Development
The Jericho 2, also designated the YA-3, was a continuation of the Jericho 1 project, spurred in part by the U.S. refusal of an Israeli request to purchase the Pershing II IRBM.2 The missile entered development in 1977, and there is some evidence to suggest that it was once a joint Israeli-Iranian project. If true, any cooperation ended by 1979.3 The Jericho 2 became operational in 1989, and eight tests were conducted between that time and 2001.
Reports also indicate significant cooperation between the Israeli Jericho 2 and South African “Arniston” programs during the 1980s, which is further evidenced by the 1,400 km (869 mile) test launch of a possible Jericho 2 in South Africa in 1989 (see more below).4
Jericho 2 Specifications
The Jericho 2 is a medium-range, road-mobile, two-stage, solid-fueled ballistic missile with a separating warhead. It has a maximum range of around 1,500 km, and is capable of carrying up to a 1,500 kg high explosive (HE) payload or nuclear warhead of up to 1 MT.5 The Jericho 2 is 15 meters long and 1.35 meters wide, with an estimated launch weight of 22,000 kg.6
The missile can be launched from a silo, railroad flat truck, or TEL vehicle.7 This mobility gives it the ability to be hidden, moved quickly, or kept in a hardened silo, increasing its resilience against preemptive attack.8
As many as 90 Jericho 2 missiles are currently based in caves near Zacharia, southwest of Tel Aviv.9
With the Jericho 3 declared operational in 2011, the Jericho 2 missile is expected to be phased out by 2026.10
South African Cooperation
Reports indicate that on July 5, 1989, an intermediate range missile, resembling the Jericho 2, flew for 1,400 km over the Indian Ocean. The was missile was of South African origin, but developed using technology provided by Israel.11 A second test firing of the missile reportedly took place on November 19, 1990. These tests were launched from a facility known by the CIA as “Arniston.” The South African government maintains that the tests were for booster rockets for their space program.12 South Africa scrapped its nuclear program in 1990 when it signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), and the Arniston facility was subsequently shut down.13
Space Launch Applications
Reports indicate that the Jericho 2 also serves as the first two stages of the indigenously produced Shavit Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV).14 According to scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a Shavit, “could transport a nuclear warhead a minimum of 5,300 km” if deployed as a ballistic missile, with the DOD estimating a potential range of 7,200 km.15 Out of nine known Shavit launches between September 1988 and June 2010, six were deemed successful and three are suspected to have failed.16
- James O’Halloran, IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic 2015-2016, 2015, (United Kingdom: IHS), 53.
- “Missiles for Peace,” Time, September 29, 1975, http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,913468,00.html.
- Nuclear Threat Initiative, “Israel: Missile”, November 2012, http://www.nti.org/learn/countries/israel/delivery-systems/.
- Global Security.org, “Jericho 2”, 2016, http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/israel/jericho-2.htm.
- O’Halloran, 53.
- Ibid. 53 .
- Global Security.org.
- Nuclear Threat Initiative; O’Halloran, 53.
- Global Security.org, “Missile Programs,” 2015, http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/rsa/missile.htm.
- Global Security.org, “Jericho 2”.
- Federation of American Scientists, “Jericho 2,” 2000, https://fas.org/nuke/guide/israel/missile/jericho-2.htm.
- O’Halloran, 52.