The Qiam-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. Iran employed the Qiam-1 in combat operations on June 18, 2017 against ISIS militants in eastern Syria.
Qiam-1 at a Glance
Originated from: Iran
Possessed by: Iran
Class: Short-range ballistic missile (SRBM)
Length: 11.5 m
Diameter: 0.88 m (body), 0.60 m (warhead)
Launch weight: 6,155 kg
Payload: 750 kg
Warhead: High explosive (HE) fragmentation, submunitions, nuclear possible
Propulsion: Single-stage liquid propellant
Range: 700-800 km
In service: 2017
The Qiam-1 is a variant of Iran’s Shahab-2 (Scud-C variant) short range ballistic missile. According to one analyst, Iran began modifying some of its Shahab-2 missiles in 2010 to create the Qiam-1 SRBM.1 The most noticeable modification is the Qiam-1’s lack of tail fins, which suggests the missile is equipped with an improved guidance system that can more quickly detect and correct changes in its trajectory, removing the need for stabilizing fins in boost phase.2
Removing the tail fins also reduces the missile’s radar signature by minimizing instances of sharp angles along the missile’s body. It also reduces aerodynamic drag and mass, thus increasing the weapons range or payload capacity.3 The incorporation of a separating reentry vehicle, furthermore, increases accuracy, and presents a somewhat more challenging target for missile defenses. A U.S. government report indicates the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force (IRGC-AF) received an unknown number of Qiam-1 missiles in late May 2010.4 The missile was first shown in Tehran during an armed forces parade in October 2010.
In February 2014, Iran’s Fars news agency released images of 24 racked Qiam-1s in what appeared to be an underground missile facility or tunnel complex.5
The Qiam-1 performed its first flight test on August 20, 2010. Following the successful test, former Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi touted the missile’s navigation and targeting systems as well as its “enhanced agility” due to the removal of the missile’s tail fins.6 Iran announced a second successful test flight on February 10, 2014.7 In early March 2016, the IRGC released video and images of a military exercise that showed a third test flight. The Qiam-1 was fired along with a Shahab-3 MRBM.8
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 deliver a 750 kg payload to ranges between 700 and 800 km. Known to carry conventional high explosive or submunition warheads, the missile may also be capable of carrying a nuclear payload as well.
The guidance technology the Qiam-1 employs is unclear. Control fins in the exhaust efflux make flight corrections in boost phase before reentry vehicle separation, suggesting the use of a more advanced and agile guidance system than that used in Iran’s older Shahab-2 missile.9
The missile’s triconic “baby bottle” reentry vehicle, traditionally associated with nuclear-armed missiles, has been employed on Shahab-3 variants like the Ghadr-1 and Emad to increase warhead accuracy and to “achieve higher terminal velocities to defeat missile defense.”10 The missile has a reported accuracy of 500 m circle error probable (CEP).11
Iran used the Qiam-1 in combat operations for the first time on June 18, 2017. Iranian forces fired a single Qiam-1 within a salvo that included five Zolfaghar SRBMS. The salvo targeted Islamic State militants in Syria’s eastern Deir ez-Zor region in retaliation for ISIS terror attacks in Tehran on June 7, 2017. The IRGC claims that all missiles hit their targets, over 700 km away from their launch sites in Kurdistan and Kermanshah provinces, killing anywhere between 50 and 170 IS fighters. Israeli sources, however, disputed the IRGC’s report, claiming only one out of six missiles found its mark.12
- 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.
- David Wright, “Iranian Qiam-1 Missile Test,” All Things Nuclear (blog), Union of Concerned Scientists, August 25, 2010, http://allthingsnuclear.org/dwright/iranian-qiam-1-missile-test.
- Steven Hildreth, Iran’s Ballistic Missile and Space Launch Programs (CRS Report No. R42849) (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, 2012), https://fas.org/sgp/crs/nuke/R42849.pdf.
- 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.
- Joshua Pollack, “Iran’s New Missile,” Arms Control Wonk (Blog), August 23, 2010, http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/archive/503101/irans-new-missile/#more-338.
- 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.
- 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.
- Michael Eisenstadt, “The Role of Missiles in Iran’s Military Strategy,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, November 2016, http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/uploads/Documents/pubs/ResearchNote39-Eisenstadt.pdf.
- “Shahab 2 (Qiam, SS-1D ‘Scud C’ variant),” in IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic 2015-2016, ed. James C O’Halloran, (United Kingdom: IHS, 2015), 46.
- “Iran Launches Missiles at ISIS in Syria,” United States Institute of Peace, last updated June 21, 2017, http://iranprimer.usip.org/blog/2017/jun/19/iran-launches-missiles-isis-syria.