The SS-1 “Scud A” was designed a short time after the end of World War II by captured German scientists and is based upon the Nazi V-2 rocket which was used to attack London during the Second World War. The Scud family of short-range, liquid-fueled missiles has now proliferated around the world and serves as the basis for many other missile designs, under the household name, ‘Scud.’
Scud at a Glance
Originated From: Russia
Possessed By: Russia
Alternate Name: 8A61/8K11/8K14, SS-N-1B
Class: Short-range Ballistic Missile (SRBM)
Length: 10.3-12.29 m
Diameter: .88 m
Launch Weight: 5,400-6,500 kg
Payload: Single warhead
Warhead: Nuclear, chemical, HE
Propulsion: Single-stage liquid propellant
Range: 190-550 km
In Service: 1955-present
Although generally Scuds carry conventional explosives, the ‘Scud A’ was originally developed for the purpose of carrying a nuclear warhead. The R-11M ‘Scud A’ entered into service in 1955. The ‘Scud A’ was 10.3 m long and had a diameter of 0.88 m. The missile had a range of 190 km and was accurate to about three km CEP. In 1958 the missile was equipped with a 50 kT nuclear warhead and designated the R-11M.1 The poor accuracy of the R-11M system made it more suitable for use against large stationary soft targets though the addition of a nuclear warhead made the system far more suitable for use as a tactical weapon.
R-17 “Scud B”
The R-17 ‘Scud B’ was an upgrade over the ‘Scud A’ that became operational in 1962. The missile is 11.25 m long, 0.88 m in diameter, and a launch weight of 5,900 kg. It has a range of 300 km with accuracy of 450 m CEP. Several different warheads were developed for the ‘Scud B’ missiles including nuclear yields between 5 and 70 kT, chemical agents, and conventional high explosive. A typical ‘Scud B’ takes approximately one hour to finish a single launch sequence. It uses an inertial guidance system and a single-stage liquid propellant engine.2
The R-17 ‘Scud B’ was deployed in 1962. Though the system is obsolete and has been replaced by new designs in Russia, it is still one of the most common and widely deployed missile systems in the world. By 1965, the new ‘Scud B’ missile was operational in many European and Middle Eastern counties. In 1973, Egypt fired a small number of the ‘Scud B’ missiles against Israel. Over 600 ‘Scud B’ and North Korean ‘Scud B’ variants were fired by Iran and Iraq between 1980 and 1988. Over 2,000 ‘Scud B,’ and possibly a small number of ‘Scud C’ missiles, are thought to have been used in Afghanistan.
During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Iraq deployed its own improved variant of the ‘Scud B,’ the Al Hussein. There were also a small number of ‘Scud’ missiles used in the 1994 civil war in Yemen and by Russia in Chechnya in 1996. A Russian report suggests that there were four ‘Scud B’ TEL and approximately 100 missiles in Afghanistan, some with the Taliban and some with Massoud’s forces, and could have been possibly passed to other various terrorist organizations. In 1998, Ukraine was reported to have three brigades with ‘Scud B’ missiles and a total of 55 missiles in service. In 1999, Libya paraded some 20 refurbished ‘Scud B’ TEL vehicles with missiles. It is thought that this was done with the assistance from North Korea.
Scud B missiles have been exported to: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Egypt, Georgia, Hungary, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, North Korea, Libya, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Syria, UAE, Ukraine, Vietnam, and Yemen. Unconfirmed reports between 1996 and 2000 have suggested that ‘Scud B’ missiles have been purchased by Armenia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Pakistan, Peru, and the Sudan. These missiles may have been built in the former Soviet Union. It has been reported that as many as 7,000 ‘Scud’ missiles may have been built in Russia and that ‘Scud B’ missiles and improved variants have been built in Egypt, Iran, Iraq, North Korea and Syria. Consequently, it is difficult to identify the source and quantity of missile supplies.3
R-17 “Scud C”
The ‘Scud C’ is believed to be an improved version of the SS-1C ‘Scud B’. It is 11.25 m in length, 0.88 m in diameter, and has a launch weight of 6,400 kg. The missile has a range of 550 km with a payload of 600 kg. This payload is capable of holding a single separating high explosive warhead with an accuracy of 700 m CEP. The missile is believed to use an inertial guidance system and a single-stage liquid propellant engine.4
The ‘Scud C’ is a tactical system designed for general bombardment. Without a nuclear payload, there is no way to compensate for the poor accuracy of the system. The high explosive warhead would be capable of inflicting large amounts of damage to a facility, but the only way to ensure a successful hit would be to launch en masse.
R-17 “Scud D”
The Scud-D was a program intended to improve upon Scud C’s inaccuracy, but was never adopted by the Soviet armed forces, which instead opted for the more newly designed OTR-21 “Tochka” to replace its arsenal of Scuds. The missile is believed to have been 12.29 m in length, 0.88 m in diameter, with a launch weight of 6,500 kg. Reports claim that it had a range of 300 km with a payload of 985 kg. This payload would carry a single separating warhead with accuracy of 50 m CEP. This high level of accuracy is believed to be obtained with an inertial guidance system combined with digital scene matching. High explosive, chemical, and nuclear warheads were reportedly developed. It uses a single-stage liquid-propellant engine.5
It is believed that the system was designed in an attempt to improve the accuracy of a Scud system to around 50 m CEP, which would be sufficient for use against individual targets. With a relatively high payload and excellent accuracy, the Scud D system would have been capable of attacking factories, airfields, ports, command and communication centers.
A submarine launched version of the Scud entered service in 1959 on board the Zulu-class submarine. It was the same dimensions of the Scud A and carried the same 50 kT warhead. The Zulu-class submarines could only carry two missiles in the sail and had to surface before the missiles could be launched. The R-11FM left service 1968.6
- James O’Halloran, “R-11/-17 (SS-1 ‘Scud’/8A61/8K11/8K14, and R-11FM (SS-N-1B)),” in IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic 2015-2016, (United Kingdom: IHS, 2015), 85-88.
- Ibid., 85-89.
- Yuri Osokin, “The Scud: a missile destined for universal cloning,” Russia Beyond the Headlines, July 14, 2014, Accessed on http://rbth.com/defence/2014/07/14/the_scud_a_missile_destined_for_universal_cloning_38185.html.
- Jane’s Strategic, 85-88.
- Ibid., 85-88.
- Ibid., 85-88