The Qiam-1 [“Uprising-1”] is a liquid fueled, short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) developed and deployed by Iran. The missile is an indigenous variant of the Shahab-2 SRBM. Unlike Iran’s other Scud-variants, it does not have external tail fins, and has a separating warhead. Iran has employed the Qiam-1 in combat operations on multiple occasions since 2017.
Qiam-1 at a Glance
- Originated from
- Possessed by
- Iran, Houthi militant groups (Yemen)
- Short-Range Ballistic Missile (SRBM)
- 11.5 m
- 0.88 m (body), 0.60 m (warhead)
- Launch weight
- 6,155 kg
- 750 kg
- High explosive (HE) fragmentation, submunitions
- Single-stage liquid propellant
- 700 – 800 km
- In service
The Qiam-1 is a single-stage, liquid fueled SRBM. The missile measures 11.5 m in length, 0.88 m in body diameter, 0.66 m in warhead diameter, and weighs 6,155 kg at launch. It can reportedly deliver a 750 kg payload to ranges between 700 and 800 km.
The Qiam-1 is distinguished from other Scud variants by its lack of tail fins, instead using a thrust vector control system to stabilize the missile.1 The missile also uses a separable warhead and ground-based radio guidance system, improving its accuracy over prior Scud-based designs.2 The warhead’s distinctive triconic shape is thought to enhance its stability after separation. In addition to improving accuracy, such a configuration could reduce the system’s radar signature, potentially increasing its survivability against missile defense.
In September 2018, Iranian state television channels showed the launch of a new missile that analysts referred to as the Qiam-2. The Qiam-2 notably included external fins at the base of the missile and its reentry vehicle had a smaller base with moveable fins.3 These upgrades would suggest Iran’s desire to improve the accuracy of the missile and potentially introduce a manuevering reentry vehicle capability to help evade defenses.
Unveiled in 2010, the Qiam-1 reportedly derives from Iran’s Shahab-2, a variant of Russia’s Scud-C SRBM.4 The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force (IRGC-AF) reportedly acquired its first set of Qiam-1 missiles in late May 2010.5 Qiam-1 successfully completed its first flight test on August 20, 2010 and was publicly displayed during an armed forces parade in October 2010.6 Iran announced a second successful test flight on February 10, 2014.7 In the same month, Iran’s Fars news agency released images of 24 Qiam-1s stored in an underground tunnel complex.8 The IRGC conducted a third flight test of the Qiam-1 in March 2016.9
The Qiam-1 may have seen its first operational use on June 18, 2017 in an attack against Islamic State militants in Syria’s eastern Deir ez-Zor region. Conflicting reports state that Iran fired five or six missiles at Deir ez-Zor, including up to five Zolfaghar SRBMs and one Shahab-3 or Qiam-1 missile. Though sources at the time claimed that Iran launched a single Shahab-3, later assessments suggest that it fired a Qiam-1.10 It remains unclear whether the missiles hit their targets.
On October 1, 2018, Iran fired up to two Qiam-2 missiles in an attack on Islamic State targets in Al Bukamal, Syria. According to reports, Iran launched six ballistic missiles from a base in Kermanshah Province; accounts are uncertain whether the missiles struck their targets, with some claiming that two Qiam-1 missiles failed in flight.11
On January 8, 2020, Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on two air bases in Iraq. Images on social media showed debris from Qiam missile bodies, indicating these missiles were used in the attack. Subsequent reporting illustrated the impressive accuracy of the missiles used in the attack on Ain Al Asad air base, which were able to precisely strike multiple point targets on the base.12
Beginning around 2017, Iran begun transferring Qiam-1 missiles to Yemen’s Houthi militants as the “Burkan-2H” (Borkan-2H) [“Volcano-2H”].13 On July 22, 2017, Houthi rebels fired a Burkan-2H missile for the first time, targeting an oil refining facility in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia. On November 4, 2017, Houthi militants again fired a Burkan-2H, this time at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh.14 Saudi Arabia claimed its Patriot system successfully intercepted the missile, though that account was later disputed by independent analysts.15 Saudi forces later claimed several successful intercepts of Burkan-2H missiles over Riyadh in April, May, and June 2018.16
- “Iran Equips IRGC with Large Numbers of ‘Qiam-1’ Ballistic Missiles,” Fars News, May 22, 2011, https://en.farsnews.com/imgrep.php?nn=83010005; Joshua Pollack, “Iran’s New Missile,” Arms Control Wonk, August 23, 2010, https://www.armscontrolwonk.com/archive/503101/irans-new-missile/;
- David Wright, “Iranian Qiam-1 Missile Test,” All Things Nuclear, August 25, 2010, https://allthingsnuclear.org/dwright/iranian-qiam-1-missile-test.
- The International Institute for Strategic Studies, Open-Source Analysis of Iran’s Missile and UAV Capabilities and Proliferation (East Sussex: Hastings Print, April 2021), 11.
- Defense Intelligence Agency, Iran Military Power: Ensuring Regime Survival and Securing Regional Dominance, DIA-Q-00055-A, (Washington: Government Publishing Office, 2019), https://www.dia.mil/Portals/27/Documents/News/Military%20Power%20Publications/Iran_Military_Power_LR.pdf; Michael Elleman, Iran’s Ballistic Missile Program, Testimony before U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, May 24, 2016, 3 https://www.banking.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/f64d023a-d6fc-4dc4-84a7-ea10ba8192cf/90DC029490361D182584B92FCAD76111.052416-elleman-testimony.pdf.
- Steven Hildreth, Iran’s Ballistic Missile and Space Launch Programs, R42849, (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, 2012), https://fas.org/sgp/crs/nuke/R42849.pdf.
- 2017 Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat, NASIC-1031-0985-17 (Wright-Patterson AFB: National Air and Space Intelligence Center, 2017), https://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/Interactive/2018/11-2019-Missile-Defense-Review/2017-Ballistic-and-Cruise-Missile-Threat.pdf
- Parisa Hafezi, “Iran test-fires long-range missile: minister,” Reuters, February 10, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-missile/iran-test-fires-long-range-missile-minister-idUSBREA191R220140210.
- Bill Sweetman, “Controversy Continues Over Iran’s Rockets and Weapons,” Aviation Week, February 17, 2015, http://aviationweek.com/defense/controversy-continues-over-iran-s-rockets-and-weapons.
- United Nations Security Council, Report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of Security Council resolution 2231 (S/2016/589), July 12, 2016, http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2016/589&Lang=E.
- “Iran Hits Terrorist Sites in Syria’s Deir Ez-Zor with Missiles,” Tasnim News Agency, June 19, 2017, https://www.tasnimnews.com/en/news/2017/06/19/1440226/iran-hits-terrorist-sites-in-syria-s-deir-ez-zor-with-missiles; Kyle Mizokami, “Iran Launched A Salvo of Ballistic Missiles at ISIS,” Popular Mechanics, June 19, 2017, https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/weapons/a26983/iran-launched-missiles-syria/; Iran Missile and SLV Launch Database, (Monterey, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, 2019), https://www.nti.org/analysis/articles/cns-iran-missile-and-slv-launch-database/.
- Hwaida Saad and Rod Nordland, “Iran Fires a Ballistic Missile at ISIS in Syria, Avenging an Earlier Attack,” The New York Times, October 1, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/01/world/middleeast/iran-isis-missile-syria.html?auth=login-email&login=email; Michael Lipin et al., “US Calls Iranian Missile Strike Targeting Syrian Militants ‘Reckless’,” VOA News, October 1, 2018, https://www.voanews.com/middle-east/voa-news-iran/us-calls-iranian-missile-strike-targeting-syrian-militants-reckless; “IRGC Launches Missile Strikes on Terrorists in Syria in Revenge for Ahwaz Attack,” Fars News Agency, October 1, 2018, https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970709000242.
- Joseph Trevithick, “Everything New We Just Learned About The 2020 Iranian Missile Attack On U.S. Forces In Iraq,” The Drive, March 1, 2021, https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/39527/everything-new-we-just-learned-about-the-iranian-missile-attack-on-al-asad-air-base.
- “Iranian Weapons Proliferation Evidence,” Defense Visual Information Distribution Service, January 24, 2018. https://www.dvidshub.net/image/4095651/iranian-weapons-proliferation-evidence; Final Report of the Panel of Experts on Yemen, S/2018/594, (New York: United Nations Security Council, 2018), https://www.undocs.org/en/S/2018/594.
- “Iranian Weapons Proliferation Evidence,” Defense Visual Information Distribution Service, January 24, 2018, https://www.dvidshub.net/image/4098957/iranian-weapons-proliferation-evidence
- Max Fisher et al., “Did American Missile Defense Fail in Saudi Arabia?” New York Times, December 4, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/12/04/world/middleeast/saudi-missile-defense.html?_r=0.
- “KSA Intercepts Houthi Missiles Targeting Riyadh, Jizan, Najran,” Missile Threat, Center for Strategic and International Studies, April 11, 2018, last modified January 14, 2020, https://missilethreat.csis.org/ksa-intercepts-houthi-missiles-targeting-riyadh-jizan-najran/; “Houthi Missiles Target Jizan, Najran, Riyadh,” Missile Threat, Center for Strategic and International Studies, May 10, 2018, last modified June 15, 2018, https://missilethreat.csis.org/houthi-missiles-target-jizan-najran-riyadh/; “Houthi Burkan-2H Missiles Intercepted Over Riyadh,” Missile Threat, Center for Strategic and International Studies, June 26, 2018, last modified June 26, 2018, https://missilethreat.csis.org/houthi-burkan-2h-missile-intercepted-over-riyadh/.