«Established in 2001, the Institute for Near East & Gulf Military Analysis (INEGMA) was set up as a Middle East think‐tank focusing on military and ...»
Copyright © INEGMA 2009
All rights reserved. No part of this
publication may be reproduced in any
form or by any electronic or
mechanical means (including
photocopying, recording, information
storage and retrieval) without prior
permission from INEGMA. Reprints are
available on request.
Established in 2001, the Institute for Near East & Gulf Military Analysis (INEGMA) was set up as
a Middle East think‐tank focusing on military and strategic affairs of the wider region. INEGMA also provides a range of specialist services to clients in government, military, and commercial companies operating in Middle East defense and security, including; Strategy and Risk Management, PR and Marketing Consultancy, and Events Organization. INEGMA is a Free Zone Limited Liability Company based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Beirut, Lebanon.
Institute for Near East & Gulf Military Analysis Special Report No. 2 Proliferation Assessment of Ballistic Missiles in the Middle East Strategic Context Recent developments in ballistic and cruise missile technology around the Gulf show an increasingly alarming rate of proliferation. These developments are the result of matured national programs whose continuation and developments were supported by their respective political leaderships as well as popular support. Many of the states involved in missile proliferation have also either already acquired a nuclear military capability or are suspected to be in the final stages of acquiring such. Consequently, the security impact on GCC states is serious and this environment of proliferation can threaten the progress made in achieving some of the highest levels of welfare and sustainable economic prosperity in the world by GCC states over the past three decades.
A proliferation race is ongoing in the wider region where Israel, India, Pakistan, and Iran are all participants. The lack of a seriousness to find a solution to the proliferation problem on the part of the international community is made worse by what are perceived to be double standards of Western policy in the region. Unfortunately, seemingly double standard to policies of Western powers seeking to prevent proliferation in the region is making the overall situation more difficult to resolve. There is a widely held perception that some countries are allowed to proliferate, while others are not. In other words there is no serious effort to effectively “reign in” proliferation trends, which are now spiraling upwards faster.
It is possible to find examples of contradiction in dealing with proliferators in the region. On the one hand, a serious embargo was enforced against Pakistan, especially in the 1980s, to curtail its programs, and more recently a physical invasion of Iraq whose effects the region is still to recover from, was also seen. On the other hand there is almost total indifference towards the Indian nuclear and missile programs and with Israel, the policy towards it is in fact complimentary and rewarding with the substantial political, technical and financial support for its programs. With regards to Iran, the underlying issues remain vague however unpredictable events could happen to stop the Iranian nuclear and ballistic missile programs – further complicating the security environment in the region and the impact on Gulf security.
When we look back at past experiences, whether they are found under the mandate of the United Nations, on the part of Western policies (such as sanctions and embargos), to prevent the proliferation of missile technology and nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction (WMD), it is possible to draw practical lessons from which policies have proved effective and which have not. The embargo enforced against South Africa did not prevent them from successfully developing their nuclear and ballistic missile program, and we also saw Pakistan and North Korea achieve the objectives of their programs in the face of international embargos.
In the period since these policies have failed, we are yet to see the engineering and application of an effective model for preventing proliferation, and the creation of worthwhile incentives for the countries like Libya who have abandoned their programs – Libya remains under the United Nations Charter but with the international embargo resolutions against it ‘frozen’ rather than canceled or eliminated. The same is true of Iraq where resolutions remain ‘frozen’ rather than
cancelled even after a complete invasion and where any tangible evidence that a WMD program exists and is active remains to be found.
One of the most important questions in the regional security debate remains to be one that asks about which kind of proliferation policy is effective and should be implemented, and what sort of incentives can be provided to states in the region that are willing to abandon their programs?
With the current regime against proliferation failing, the threat of regional proliferations trends not only remains heightened but is constantly growing. This paper seeks to assess and address current proliferation trends around GCC states and trace the developments that have been made in national ballistic and cruise missile programs in the region over the past twenty years (this paper will not however address the nuclear programs of these countries) in order to better understand the direction the region is heading and re-emphasize the need to create an effective model to prevent and reverse current proliferation trends.
An Introduction to Ballistic Missiles Ballistic missiles are generally categorized into four classes: Short-range (SRBM), which have a range of up to 1000km; Medium-range (MRBM), with range of approximately 1000km-3000km;
Intermediate-range (IRBM), which have operational ranges of approximately 3,000km-5500km, and; Intercontinental-range (ICBM), which can travel upwards of 5500km which we see today in the National Regional Program in our Gulf area that all these countries have reached an advanced maturity in their program and all of them are in IRBM or in ICBM range.
Ballistic missiles offer deep targeting and high effective penetration capabilities that can destroy military, political, and economic assets. They are also regarded as the best solution to carry WMD. Logistically, the ease of operations allowed by ballistic missiles compared to aircraft makes them indisputably useful weapons systems to have in the force arsenal. By acquiring such capabilities, you are making the entire opponent country into the battle field, transferring the battle from the battlefield front to the entire country where economic, political, military and civilian targets can be simultaneously targeted much more easily at any time, in large part regardless of how these targets are defended.
Ballistic missiles with their relatively poor accuracy today are more a weapons of “terror” than an accurate military targeting weapon system. However, ballistic missiles are ideal weapon to deliver nuclear warhead because these do not depend on highly accurate targeting for effectiveness. That said, certain nuclear powers in the region like India and Israel have achieved sophisticated terminal guidance systems which deliver greater targeting accuracy in their ballistic missile programs, too.
First Generation Ballistic Missile Technology
The first generation of ballistic missiles were made in mid-1940s by the Germans, and are sometimes referred to as the “scud type system.” These systems involved a fairly basic architecture involving a single warhead, single-stage liquid-based propulsion, and simple inertial guidance system. First generation missiles can have a separable warhead, which relatively improves accuracy and may reduce the chances of detection (although this is not 2 Institute for Near East & Gulf Military Analysis Special Report No. 2
always the case). The ballistic missile flight phase involves three basic flight phases:
Immediately following the launch is the boost phase, the ballistic phase (warhead separation would take place before this phase), and finally, the re-entry phase. First generation ballistic missile trajectory types can be compared to artillery-like trajectories where firing higher into the air to achieve maximum altitude would in turn result in range maximization. The rangevelocity-altitude metrics have a strongly correlative relationship where range maximization needs higher altitudes, and as a result the velocity is maximized on re-entry due to the missile’s return from higher altitude by gravitational pull. Thus, the longer the range of the missile, the greater the altitude it will reach before the re-entry phase, and the greater will be the velocity and the angle upon re-entry.
Ballistic Missile Flight Phases
For a Short-range Ballistic Missile (SRBM) or Tactical Ballistic Missile (TBM), typically weapons with ranges of around 300km, the missile will typically reach an altitude of 80-100km before reentry. Its velocity on return will hit around 1700 m/s (1.7 Km/s) and it will cover the distance of 300km in roughly five minutes. For a short-to-medium range missile that is launched at a target of, say, 650km away, the missile will reach an altitude of 130-150km before re-entry, travelling at a maximum speed of 2300 m/s to cover the distance in roughly seven minutes. For a Medium-range Ballistic Missile (MRBM) such as the Iranian Shehab-3, by reaching an altitude of 230-250km the missile can reach maximum speeds of 2650 m/s on its return to cover a distance of 1000km in roughly nine minutes. Controlling the range of flight of MRBMs can be achieved by cutting-off the missile engine at the velocity according to the program range or distance to be achieved.
3 Institute for Near East & Gulf Military Analysis Special Report No. 2 Ballistic Missile Trajectory Types: First Generation
Trajectory Characteristics The operational preparation for a first generation missile can take more than six hours to launch due to heavy logistical support. Preparations for launch will begin with the TBM vector transloading from the transport truck to the Transport Erector Launcher (TEL). Next, the TBM vector tanks will be filled with oxidizer fuel on the TEL, brought in large fuel carrying tankers.
The warhead mating is done after this fueling process is completed. Following the warhead
mating, the TBM is ready for deployment on the launch zone. Once the electrical connection is made and the TBM flight and target parameters loading is complete, the missile is ready for launch. The preparation for launch can take around 30 minutes on the launch zone.
First Generation System Limitations The drawbacks of the first generation system are various, including a bulky system (requiring heavy logistical support), the long preparation time required before launch, high staffing requirements, and the unavoidable complex field operations. Importantly, first generation ballistic missiles are not highly accurate. Nevertheless, first generation ballistic missiles remain the best candidate for proliferation because of the relatively less sophisticated technology they use which is either readily available or relatively easy to get hold of in the international market.
Today’s Missile Technology
More advance generation ballistic missile architectures involve separable warheads, multi-stage solid propulsion systems, and advanced Guidance, Navigation, and Control (GNC) systems.
These modern generation of missiles have an accuracy down to 10m and can carry nuclear warheads. The multi-stage solid propellant technology is responsible for many improvements in advanced generation TBMs such as: range enhancements, easing of field operations (including reduced staffing requirements), capability to launch at short notice, and long durations of storage they can endure.
With their GPS/GLONASS navigation aided and guidance control and their terminal guidance systems, this generation of ballistic missiles is largely immune to Electronic Warfare (EW) and jamming measures, and possess the maneuverability during re-entry phase to defeat most antimissile defense systems in theory. Advanced generation ballistic missiles due to their 5 Institute for Near East & Gulf Military Analysis Special Report No. 2
Ballistic Missile Architecture: Advanced Generation
maneuverability have a greater range of trajectory types which improves their penetration capabilities against anti-missile defense systems. Trajectory types such as minimum energy, depressed, and lofted are relatively more effective in beating anti-missile shields. What these trajectory types do is essentially breakthrough the range-velocity-altitude metrics that held correlative relationships in first generation of TBMs. With the more advanced generation of ballistic missiles, the relationship that exists between altitude and range factors in the artillerylike trajectories of first generation TBM no longer stand.
Long-range Ballistic Missiles (LRBMs) of the advanced type are able to travel and cover large distances in short time spans by achieving fast speeds, although they need not be constrained by altitude factors. For example, an advanced generation LRBM can cover 2000km at approximately thirteen minutes and Ballistic Missiles trajectory types: Advanced hitting altitudes of around 400km Generation and maximum speeds of 3800 m/s.
The same distance can also be covered by hitting altitudes of 1500km, at the same speed, but the time increases to twenty three minutes. In an another example, an LRBM can cover 3000km in just eighteen minutes by travelling at a speed of 4650 m/s and hitting an altitude of some 800km. What these typical trajectory examples highlight is the critical need for quick analysis by anti-missile defense systems in the event of a ballistic missile attack in order to have an effective and timely response.
Operations for advanced generation TBM can be done from mobile or silo-based systems for ground-to-ground attack, or from ship- or submarine-based systems for sea-to-ground attack.