Let the Iranians Fire their Missiles

Iran has been threatening to fire their missiles in retaliation should certain events take place in the Middle East or Persian Gulf. In response, the USA has been creating a missile defense shield that should provide ample warning of incoming threats that are launched. One precaution is to have two carriers present in the Persian Gulf at all times. They are building a new radar site in Qatar at Al Udied AFB, where 8000 US troops are based. This new X-band radar will supplement those already in Israel's Negev Desert and in central Turkey. Together, any missile fired from the northern, western or southern iran will be detected and interceptors will be able to eliminate the threat.

Most of Iran's missiles can reach anywhere in Saudi Arabia, Israel, most of Turkey, parts of Russia into the Ukraine, Afghanistan, Pakistan. In addition to the X-band radar sites, the US also has two Aegis missile defense ships in the Persian Gulf. The X-band radars can pinpoint the incoming missile and activate defenses to destroy it. The first THAAD missile interceptor is being deployed in the UAE. This has its own radar system and provides even more coverage. In addition to these high altitude systems, numerous Patriot batteries are being deployed for the Iran's low altitude missiles that have proven 80% effective in Israel recently.

The cost of the new X-band base in Qatar will cost $12 million. Should Iran choose to mine the Straits of Hormuz, the US has eight mine sweepers to keep the narrow waterway open.

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Comments 8 comments

James 4 years ago

Interesting article. What was your final calculation for ABMs to SRBMs and IRBMs in theater? Also, what probabilty of interception did you factor in? Thanks, James.

perrya profile image

perrya 4 years ago Author

Iran has no ballistic missiles now, experts indicate maybe 2015-16. According Israeli soources, the Patriot has a 80-90% success rate. I would think the missile interception for others would be the same or better.

Mark 4 years ago

Hey dude, the missiles you are talking about are SRBMs and MRBMs.

perrya profile image

perrya 4 years ago Author

Iran has no ballistic missiles. Bad intel if you believe they do.

Mark 4 years ago

No, unfortunately your terminology is off. Are you thinking ballistic means nuclear?

Ballistic Missile:

A weapon that consists of integral rocket propulsion, means of pointing or guiding the weapon's velocity vector to a prescribed orientationat the position and time of rocket engine shutoff or burnout, and a warhead. In certain applications, means of deploying multiple warheads or submunitions may be incorporated. Ballistic missiles are conceptually simple weapons whose implementation becomes more complex with increasing accuracy, range, and defense penetration requirements.

The term ballistic means that part or most of the missile's trajectory is not subject to propulsion or control. In its ballistic phase of flight, a missile's motion is affected only by gravitation and uncontrolled aerodynamic interactions with the atmosphere.

The ballistic missile follows an elliptical path due to action of the Earth's gravitational field. If both the burnout velocity and burnout altitude are large, then an upwardly slanted flight path will cause the missile's trajectory to rise high above the sensible atmosphere, thereby eliminating the retarding and disturbing influences of the Earth's atmosphere for most of the trajectory. See also Ballistics; Celestial mechanics.

All ballistic missiles incorporate means of pointing or guiding their velocity vectors so that their trajectories end coincidentally with the intended target. The simplest instance involves launching a missile from a guide rail or tube which the weapon operator points toward the intended target and upward at predetermined elevation angle that will result in a missile impact in the target area. The Army's Multiple Rocket Launching System (MRLS) is a good example of simple pointing as the means of initial-conditions guidance. Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) wherein propulsion durations of several minutes are typical and precise pointing of the velocity vector at propulsion burnout is essential to achieve the desired accuracy in hitting the target area after intercontinental flight. ICBMs and theater nuclear weapons typically employ control over the direction of thrust from their rocket motors to change the orientation of the missile in response to guidance commands. Guidance is based upon the principles of inertial navigation. See also Guidance systems; Inertial guidance system.

Ballistic missiles are either land-based or sea-based.

Land-based versions are commonly categorized according to the distance they can fly. See also Army armament.

1. Battlefield ballistic missiles can hit targets from 12 to 300 mi (20 to 500 km) from the launch point, and generally employ conventional (nonnuclear) or submunition warheads.

2. Intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBM), which are sometimes referred to as intermediate nuclear forces (INF) or theater nuclear weapons, come in a variety of sizes, and can hit targets 300 to 3000 mi (500 to 5000 km) from the launch site. These missiles invariably carry one to three nuclear warheads.

3. ICBMs have flyout ranges between 5500 and 7500 mi (9000 and 12,000 km). Modern ICBMs carry from one to ten nuclear warheads in reentry vehicles that are independently targetable (multiple independently targeted reentry vehicles, or MIRVs).

Iranian Inventory:

According to a report by former U.N. weapons inspector Michael Elleman, Iran’s ballistic missile arsenal is the “largest and most diverse” in the Middle East. While Israel is out of range of Iran’s short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs), Iran does possess at least two types of medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) that can theoretically reach every inch of Israel: the Ghadr-1, also known as Shahab-3 Variant, and the more advanced Sajjil series. There are also a number of missiles whose existence or operability is treated with some skepticism in the West. These include a purported shipment of North Korean BM-25 missiles in 2006 and the Iranian-made Fajr-3 and Shahab 4, 5, and 6 missiles.

Open-source assessments of Iran’s MRBM inventory are hard to come by and can be vague and contradictory. According to an April 2010 unclassified report from the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), Iran has “approximately 1,000 missiles that range from 90-1,200 miles.” What proportion of those 1,000 missiles are MRBMs isn’t clear. A 2005 Congressional Research Service report offers a low-end estimate of Iran’s SRBMs at less than 500. Using the OSD report as a guide and doing a little arithmetic leaves one with the possibility of Iran having perhaps 500 MRBMs. Using the same method, this time with OSD’s high-range estimates of Iran’s SRBMs, puts Iran’s MRBM stock at fewer than 200.

While one shouldn’t overstate the precision of these open-source assessments, it nonetheless does appear that Iran possesses a significant arsenal of MRBMs. But quantity, of course, is different from quality, and the Iranians’ MRBMs don’t fare well in this regard, as they tend to be inaccurate and undependable. Here’s Michael Elleman again:

The successful destruction of a single fixed military target … would probably require Iran to use a significant percentage of its missile inventory … The missiles would probably be unable to shut down critical military activities.

This seems to be the stance Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak is taking. He reportedly played down the risks associated with an Iranian missile attack in a radio interview several weeks ago, maintaining that casualties from such an attack would be limited. This mirrors a statement he made last November in which he asserted that Israel would only incur “about 500 civilian casualties,” a judgment that no doubt factors in Israel’s Arrow missile defense system, currently in the process of being upgraded to intercept Shahab and Sajjil missiles. As a response to the public outcry after the 2006 Lebanon War, Israel also embarked on an expensive upgrade of its civil bomb shelters. Elleman agrees with Barak’s assessment:

Without a nuclear warhead … the casualties would probably be low – probably less than a few hundred, even if Iran unleashed its entire ballistic missile arsenal and a majority succeeded in penetrating missile defenses.

perrya profile image

perrya 4 years ago Author

Interesting, but the room for error in what iran actually has and how sophisticated the missiles are remains.

Mark 4 years ago

Maybe, but hopefully you now know what a ballistic missile is.

perrya profile image

perrya 4 years ago Author

Always did, I guess it did not come across that way.

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