SS-1 `Scud’ (R-11/8A61/8K11, R-11FM (SS-N-1B) and R- 17/8K14)

2P19 Transporter-Erector-Launcher with 8K14 rocket, SS-1C Scud B


Short-range, road-mobile, liquid-propellant, single-warhead ballistic missiles.


The initial design of the `Scud’ was made in Russia by the Korolyev Design Bureau (OKB-1), which started work shortly after the Second World War using German V2 designs, and some of the engineers and scientists from the German weapons programme. The SS-1B `Scud A’ entered service in 1955 and was known as the R-11 (8A61) missile by the Russians. The R-11M version was fitted with a nuclear warhead, and had the designator 8K11. An improved version, known as R-17 (8K14) by the Russians, and SS-1C `Scud B’ by NATO, entered service in 1962. Initially, this version was carried on the same tracked vehicle as its predecessor, but by 1965, the four axle eight-wheeled Transporter-Erector-Launcher (TEL) vehicle MAZ 543 P had been introduced and was to become the standard TEL for the `Scud’ system. Several different warheads were developed for the `Scud B’ missiles including nuclear, chemical and conventional high explosive. The plan to replace the series with the SS-23 ‘Spider’ was abandoned as a result of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) agreement.

There are reports that the Russians designed two further `Scud’ variants, known as the SS-1D `Scud C’ and SS-1E `Scud D’. The `Scud C’ is believed to have had its range increased to 550 km, but with a reduced warhead weighing 600 kg that separated from the motor and fuel tank assembly following motor burnout. This was thought to have increased stability and improved accuracy. The `Scud D’ design is believed to have been an attempt to improve the accuracy of the system to around 50 m Circular Error of Probability (CEP), using digital scene matching, with a TV camera to refine the aim point as the missile approaches the target area. Tests of a prototype `Scud D’ with a redesigned warhead section were first carried out in 1979, and a development programme was effected by the Central Research Institute of Automatics and Hydraulics (TsNIAG). The warhead section contained a TV camera in the nose, an inertial guidance system, and four paddle type control fins at the rear. A successful design was completed in 1989, but it is believed that this system did not enter service in Russia. There are further unconfirmed reports that the Russians designed a fifth variant, ‘Scud E’, with a range of 900 km, but this did not enter production.

A submarine-launched version, known as R-11FM (SS-N-1B `Scud’), was developed from 1950 as a joint programme by the Korolyev and Makeyev design bureau. This missile had the designator 8K11, and was similar to the nuclear warhead version R-11M. The first flight test, from land, was made in 1955, and the first submarine launch was made in September 1955, with a range of 250 km. The missile became operational as the D-1 SLBM system in 1959 on a project 611 ‘Zulu’ class submarine. Description The first of the `Scud’ family of missiles, the SS-1B `Scud A’ (R-11) was 10.3 m long, had a body diameter of 0.88 m and a launch weight of 5,400 kg. The missile used kerosene and nitric acid for propellant, pressurised by air. This resulted in a missile with a range of 190 km but with a CEP of around 3 km. The `Scud A’, was carried on a tracked vehicle, derived from the JS 2 tank chassis, which served as a TEL platform for the missile. A nuclear warhead version, designated R-11M, was developed and is believed to have had a yield in the 50 kT range. This version had a weight of 5,500 kg, a 600 kg payload, a range increased to 270 km and an accuracy of 6 km CEP.

The `Scud B’ (R-17) was a considerable improvement over the earlier A version. The missile is 11.25 m long, has a body diameter of 0.88 m and a launch weight of 5,900 kg. The propellants were changed, from `Scud A’, to Unsymmetrical DiMethyl Hydrazine (UDMH) and Inhibited Red Fuming Nitric Acid (IRFNA), which were fed to the combustion chamber by fuel pumps and gave a more consistent thrust. The total propellant weight at launch was around 3,130 kg and the single motor developed 130 kN of thrust at sea level. The structural weight, less the payload/warhead bay was 1,785 kg. These improvements increased the missiles range to 300 km and reduced the CEP to around 450 m. Guidance is by a rudimentary inertial system using three gyroscopes, which give control signals to four graphite vanes in the motor exhaust to adjust the flight path of the missile during the climb following launch. The control vanes are only operative for the period of motor burn, the first 60 seconds or so of flight.

Several different warheads were developed for the `Scud B’ missiles, including nuclear, chemical and conventional high explosive. The warhead bay of the `Scud B’ is 2.87 m long forming the nose section of the missile, and weighs 985 kg. It is believed that the first Russian design for `Scud B’ was for a nuclear warhead with a yield of 50 kT, but this was later replaced with a selectable yield warhead covering from 5 to 70 kT. A diagram of a chemical warhead for the `Scud B’ shows a nose-mounted fuze with a high-explosive bursting charge to open the warhead and allow the resulting air flow to disperse the 555 kg of viscous VX chemical agent into a dense aerosol cloud. Russian documents suggest that a number of different conventional high explosive warheads were developed, including blast/fragmentation, earth penetration, fuel-air explosive and submunitions. The HE blast fragmentation warhead contains 545 kg of HE. For the submunitions, there were again several options, including: fragmentation; armour piercing; runway penetrators; smoke; mines or incendiary. The submunitions warheads would all have been initiated by proximity fuzes, to create an airburst to deploy the submunitions over a wide area. It is believed that 40 runway penetrator submunitions were carried, each penetrator weighing 12 kg and with 3 kg of HE. Fragmentation submunitions are believed to have numbered about 100 per warhead, each weighing 5 kg and containing 1.2 kg of HE, with a damage radius between 160 and 250 m.

The `Scud B’ missile is carried on an eight-wheeled MAZ 543 P TEL vehicle (9P117M), and the missile is raised to the vertical position at the back of the TEL before launch. The TEL has a length of 13.36 m, a width of 3.02 m and weighs 37,400 kg when loaded with a missile. The TEL can carry three crew, but it is believed that five men are required in the launcher crew. The vehicle has built-in test equipment, can aim the missile and can fire autonomously if required. However, the target selection and firing is usually carried out from a separate command and control vehicle. The MAZ 543 vehicle has a D-12 diesel engine rated at 525 hp, with four driven axles, and a separate 10 kW electric generator for the missile operations. Two hydraulic pumps power the cradle that raises the missile to the vertical, which takes about 4 minutes. The TEL can be adjusted to carry different missiles, by altering the roof assemblies and the cradle. Iraq used the MAZ 543 to carry the larger Al Hussein missile. A typical `Scud B’ launch sequence takes about 1 hour. The TEL vehicle has an unrefuelled range of 650 km on hard roads and a maximum road speed of 55 km/h. After launch, the TEL moves to a new position to avoid a counterattack and is reloaded from a towed re-supply trailer.

`Scud C’ is the same size as the `Scud B’ but is believed to have had the range increased to 550 km, achieved by reducing the warhead to 600 kg and increasing the fuel and oxidant. The weight of ‘Scud C’ is believed to be 6,500 kg. The warhead separates from the motor and fuel tank assembly following motor burnout; this would have reduced the instability of the total missile on re-entry to the lower atmosphere, and should have improved the accuracy.

The `Scud D’ design is believed to have been a further attempt to improve the accuracy of the system to around 50 m CEP, using a digital scene-matching technique with a TV camera in the nose of a modified warhead section. The warhead separated from the missile body and had a stabilisation and guidance computer, operating four paddle-type control fins similar to those used on the SS-21 `Scarab’ missile. The separating warhead section was about 4 m long and had a body diameter about 0.65 m. The overall missile length was increased to 12.29 m and the launch weight to 6,500 kg. The `Scud D’ is thought to have the same 300 km range as the `Scud B’.

The naval submarine-launched version of the `Scud A’, known as R-11FM or SS-N-1B `Scud’, had a length of 10.34 m, a diameter of 0.88 m and a launch weight of 5,465 kg. The empty weight was 1,677 kg, the warhead bay weighed 985 kg and around 2,805 kg of propellant was carried. The maximum range was reported as either 150 or 250 km. Two missiles were carried in a ‘Zulu’ class boat, with the missiles located vertically in the sail. The missile could only be launched with the submarine on the surface. This missile carried a nuclear warhead, believed to have a yield of 50 kT.

Operational status

The `Scud A’ entered service in 1955, the R-11M nuclear warhead version entered service in 1958. These were then replaced by the SS-1C `Scud B’ missile starting in 1962. By 1965, `Scud B’ was operational in many countries throughout Europe and the Middle East. `Scud B’ missiles were used by Egypt in 1973 against Israel, but only a small number were fired. A large number, in excess of 600, `Scud B’ and North Korean `Scud B’ variants were fired by both Iraq and Iran during their eight years war between 1980 and 1988, and over 2,000 ‘Scud B’ and possibly a small number of ‘Scud C’ are believed to have been used in Afghanistan. Around 28 `Scud’ missiles were used in the civil war in Yemen in 1994, although some of these may have come from North Korea. Russia is reported to have used some ‘Scud B’ missiles in Chechnya in 1996.

More than 700 `Scud’ launchers were deployed by the former Warsaw Pact nations, each launcher carried one missile and had three reloads available. `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, Turkmenistan, UAE, Ukraine, Vietnam and Yemen. Reports indicate that ‘Scud B’ missiles have been withdrawn from service in Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Georgia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation and Slovakia. It is believed that there were no Iraqi ‘Scud B’ missiles remaining by December 2002, although their use was not fully accounted for by the former Iraqi government.

Unconfirmed reports between 1996 and 2000 have suggested that `Scud B’ missiles may have been purchased by Armenia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Pakistan, Peru; and Sudan, but these might have been built in the former Soviet Union or elsewhere. Around 30 ‘Scud B’ missiles and four TELs were purchased by the USA in 1995, and the missiles were converted into targets by Lockheed Martin under the ‘Willow Sand’ programme. The first two target missiles were launched in 1997 at the South Pacific range, and the most recent firing of two missiles was made from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in November 2002. It is estimated that several thousand `Scud’ missiles were built in Russia, maybe as many as 7,000, and reports indicate that `Scud B’ missiles and improvements have been manufactured in Egypt, Iran, Iraq, North Korea and Syria. As a result it is often difficult to identify the source of any missile supplies.

Although there was a great deal of media coverage on the use of `Scuds’ by Iraq during the Gulf War in 1991, the missiles used were largely the Iraqis’ own improved `Scuds’, the Al Hussein. These missiles were modified ‘Scud B’, with an additional body section welded in to increase the fuel and oxidant carried, allowing an increased range. Iraq purchased 819 ‘Scud B’ missiles between 1974 and 1990.

A Russian report in 1998 suggested that there were four ‘Scud B’ TEL and around 100 missiles in Afghanistan, some with the Taliban and some with Massoud’s forces, and that these could be passed on to terrorist organisations. Ukraine was reported to have three brigades with ‘Scud B’ missiles in 1998, and a total of 55 missiles in service. In 1999 Libya paraded 24 refurbished ‘Scud B’ TELs with missiles, possibly following assistance from North Korea, and was believed to have had 150 to 250 missiles in service with 60 to 70 MAZ 543 TELs.

The naval `Scud A’ SLBM (R-11FM) entered service in 1959 on `Zulu’ class submarines, but was taken out of service in 1968 and replaced by longer range systems (SS-N-4 and SS-N-5 `Sark’). It is believed that a single `Zulu’ class submarine, together with `Scud A’ R-11FM missiles were sold to China in 1959 and that the Chinese began to reverse engineer the design but abandoned this in 1961. There are no confirmed reports that Russia produced `Scud C’, `Scud D’ or ‘Scud E’ designs, or that these missiles ever entered service.