Iraq, situated in the heart of the Middle East, has a rich history marked by ancient civilizations and cultural heritage. During the 1980s and 1990s, Iraq sought to bolster its military capabilities, including the development of a ballistic missile program. The program gained particular prominence in the aftermath of the Gulf War in 1991, which had far-reaching consequences for Iraq’s military infrastructure. The ballistic missile program resulted in the creation of several missiles, among which the Al-Hussein, Al-Abbas, and Al-Hijarah missiles were notable. These missiles varied in range and capabilities, with some designed for short-range targets and others for longer-range objectives.
Iraq’s Ballistic Missile Arsenal
The Al-Hussein missile was used by Iraq during the Gulf War as a modified version of the Soviet Scud B missile. Originally only capable of short-range tactical use, the Scud B had a launch weight of about 6,000 kg and a length of approximately 11m. It could carry a 1,000-kg warhead and reach a range of 300 km. Modifications were made to increase the missile’s range to about 600 km, which included reducing the warhead to about 300 kg and extending the fuel tanks, resulting in the missile’s overall length increasing to 12.2 m and its launch weight rising to 7,000 kg. With a 1,102 lb (500 kg) warhead, the Al-Hussein missile was capable of carrying high explosive, chemical, biological, and nuclear payloads and had a range of approximately 400 miles (≈644 km), a maximum speed of 0.9 miles/s (1.5 km/s) and utilized an inertial guidance system. The missile could be launched from three different mobile launchers: the Soviet-modified MAZ, the locally produced Al-Whaleed, and the locally produced Al-Nida.
The Al-Abbas missile, created by Iraq, is a short-range ballistic missile that is often regarded as a more extended version of the Al-Hussein missile. This Al-Hussein missile, in turn, is derived from the Soviet Scud missile. With a length of 14.51 m, the Al-Abbas missile surpasses the previous Scud missile’s length of 11.5 m. Its diameter measures 0.89 m, and it possesses a payload capacity ranging from 140-450 kg, enabling it to carry chemical and biological warheads. Utilizing liquid propellant, the Al-Abbas missile boasts an operational range of 800-950 km, although some sources suggest it may only reach up to 800 km. Equipped with an inertial guidance system, it maintains a Circular Error Probable (CEP) of 5000 m, ensuring accuracy within a range of 5000 m. It is crucial to note that the possession and development of ballistic missiles are governed by international laws and treaties.
The Al-Hijarah missile is a product of Iraq’s ballistic missile program, which was developed during the 1980s and 1990s. The program was aimed at enhancing Iraq’s military capabilities and was a source of concern for the international community, particularly after the Gulf War in 1991. The Al-Hijarah missile is a short-range ballistic missile, which means that it is designed to travel a relatively short distance, typically less than 1,000 km. It has a payload capacity of 100-300 kg; The missile is designed to carry a chemical warhead.
The missile uses liquid propellant, this type of propellant is highly volatile and can be dangerous to handle, but it provides a high level of thrust and allows the missile to reach its target quickly. The Al-Hijarah missile has an operational range of 700-900 km. The missile’s navigation system relies on an inertial guidance system, which uses accelerometers and gyroscopes to measure the missile’s position and velocity. This system allows the missile to accurately target its destination and avoid obstacles along the way.