The acquisition and development of ballistic missile systems are crucial for a nation’s strategic capabilities in the global defense realm. This article focuses on Qatar’s ballistic missile systems, which have significantly enhanced its defense capabilities through the procurement of various missile systems worldwide. In this article, will examine the technical specifications, origins, and operational details of the BP-12A short-range ballistic missile (SRBM), the SY-400 short-range ballistic missile system, and the MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS). Qatar’s comprehensive strategy is strengthened by each of these systems’ unique features and capabilities.
Qatar’s Ballistic Missile Arsenal
The BP-12A short-range ballistic missile (SRBM), developed by the China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corporation, is a variant of the B-611 missile. It was first showcased at the eighth Zhuhai Airshow in 2010. The BP-12A is specifically designed to target various strategic assets, such as missile sites, rocket and long-range artillery sites, troop concentration sites, logistics supply bases, and technical support. This missile syscany to vertically launch two missiles-in-container, without separating the warhead and missile body during flight. It is powered by a solid fuel engine, allowing for an operational range of 300–400 km (190–250 mi), and carries a warhead weighing 480 kg (1,060 lb). The missile utilizes both inertial and optical guidance systems. Interestingly, the BP-12A missile system shares the same launching platform as the SY400 multi-launch guided rocket system, as well as the same ground test and launch control system. It is also similar to the Type 631 and can be integrated into the SY-400 missile launcher. This acquisition has significantly bolstered defense capabilities.
The SY-400, a short-range ballistic missile system, has been successfully developed by China’s Sichuan Aerospace Industry Corporation (SCAIC). This missile is approximately 6 meters long and 0.4 meters in diameter, and each launching vehicle is equipped with 8 launch containers. Depending on the weight of the warhead, which can be either 200 kg or 300 kg, the SY-400 missile can reach a maximum range of 150 to 200 km. To ensure accurate targeting, the missile uses a GPS/INS guidance system and is guided toward its intended destination during the initial flight phase by four control surfaces and stabilizing fins. The implementation of this system greatly enhances defense capabilities.
The MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) is a tactical ballistic missile created by Lockheed Martin. It utilizes solid propellant and has dimensions of 13 feet in height and 24 inches in diameter. The longest-range variants can travel up to 190 miles (300 km). These missiles can be launched from either the tracked M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) or the wheeled M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). The ATACMS was specifically designed to replace the MGM-52 Lance missile and provide tactical support to ground troops. It bears a strong resemblance to its predecessor and is typically deployed from modified MLRS launch vehicles. The standard service version of the ATACMS is known he Block 1. This tactical system is designed to target high-value rear-echelon forces, including airfields, Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) sites, artillery/missile forces, supply areas, and command groups. The large number of M74 submunitions it carries allows for saturation of enemy-held areas, effectively destroying both troops and equipment. While the munitions are highly effective against infantry and light equipment, they are not suitable for heavy-armored targets. The ATACMS Block 1 is launched from a modified version of the MLRS M270 AVMRL (Armoured Vehicle Multiple Rocket Launcher), which replaces twelve MRLS rockets with two ATACMS Block 1 missiles. Alternatively, a single ATACMS Block 1 can be carried and fired by a US Army HIMARS XM142 wheeled light vehicle. The Block 1 variant has a range of 165 km and is equipped with a single 560 kg warhead containing 950 M74 submunitions. Although the ATACMS Block 1 possesses an inertial guidance system, the level of accuracy it provides is unknown. However, due to the saturation of the target area and the missile’s short-range capabilities, there is a high probability of hitting the intended target.