or al-Husayn is the designation of an Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....
i ballistic missile
A ballistic missile is a missile that follows a sub-orbital ballistic flightpath with the objective of delivering one or more warheads to a predetermined target. The missile is only guided during the relatively brief initial powered phase of flight and its course is subsequently governed by the...
. The missile was the result of upgrading the Soviet made Scud
Scud is a series of tactical ballistic missiles developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and exported widely to other countries. The term comes from the NATO reporting name SS-1 Scud which was attached to the missile by Western intelligence agencies...
in order to achieve a longer range. The weapon was widely used by the Iraqi Army
The Iraqi Army is the land component of the Iraqi military, active in various forms since being formed by the British during their mandate over the country after World War I....
during the Iran-Iraq War
The Iran–Iraq War was an armed conflict between the armed forces of Iraq and Iran, lasting from September 1980 to August 1988, making it the longest conventional war of the twentieth century...
and the Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...
The origins of the Al-Hussein
could be traced back to the first stages of the war with Iran. Iraq was the first belligerent to use long range artillery rockets during the Iran–Iraq War, firing limited numbers of Frog-7
The 9K52 Luna-M is a Soviet short-range ballistic missile complex. The 9M21 missiles are unguided and spin-stabilized. "9K52" is its GRAU designation. Its NATO reporting name is FROG-7....
s at the towns of Dezful
Dezful is a city in and the capital of Dezful County, Khuzestan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 228,507, in 55,711 families.The city houses a bridge that dates back to 300 BC.In 2006, the city had 235,819 inhabitants.-History:...
-History:For a more comprehensive historical treatment of the area, see the history section of Khūzestān Province.-Ancient history:Ahvaz is the anagram of "Avaz" and "Avaja" which appear in Darius's epigraph...
. Iran responded with Scud-Bs obtained from Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....
. These missiles can hit a target 185 miles away, therefore key Iraqi cities like Sulaymaniya, Kirkuk
Kirkuk is a city in Iraq and the capital of Kirkuk Governorate.It is located in the Iraqi governorate of Kirkuk, north of the capital, Baghdad...
, and Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...
itself came within the range of this weapon.
Iraq, which also deployed the Scud-B, was conversely unable to strike the main Iranian industrial centers, including the capital, Teheran, because these are located more than 300 miles from the border. To surmount the Iranian advantage, Iraqi engineers designed a program to upgrade the original Scuds into a series of ballistic missiles whose range would surpass 500 miles. The assembly facility was located near Taji.
The first development, called Al-Hussein
or Project 1728, with a range of 400 miles, allowed the Iraqi army to attack deep inside the Iranian boundaries. The range was extended by reducing the original 945 kg warhead to 500 kg and increasing the propellant capacity. The warhead carried HE, although it had Chemical, Biological and Nuclear
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...
capabilities. According to UN
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...
inspectors reports, the Iraqis were able to produce all the major components of the system by 1991. The Al-Hussein
was 12.46 meters long and had a diameter of 0.88. The guidance was inertial
An inertial navigation system is a navigation aid that uses a computer, motion sensors and rotation sensors to continuously calculate via dead reckoning the position, orientation, and velocity of a moving object without the need for external references...
, without terminal phase. The altitude where the motor burnt out was 31 miles, while the trajectory highest altitude or apogee
, was 94 miles. The accuracy for the impact, or Circular error probable
In the military science of ballistics, circular error probable is an intuitive measure of a weapon system's precision...
, was estimated in a radius
In classical geometry, a radius of a circle or sphere is any line segment from its center to its perimeter. By extension, the radius of a circle or sphere is the length of any such segment, which is half the diameter. If the object does not have an obvious center, the term may refer to its...
of 1,000 meters, and the missile launch weight was 6,400 kg.
Its flight time was of about seven minutes for the maximum range.
The missile fuel was common to every tactical missile of the Cold war
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...
: a mix of kerosene
RP-1 is a highly refined form of kerosene outwardly similar to jet fuel, used as a rocket fuel. Although having a lower specific impulse than liquid hydrogen , RP-1 is cheaper, can be stored at room temperature, is far less of an explosive hazard and is far denser...
, ignited by a nitric acid
Nitric acid , also known as aqua fortis and spirit of nitre, is a highly corrosive and toxic strong acid.Colorless when pure, older samples tend to acquire a yellow cast due to the accumulation of oxides of nitrogen. If the solution contains more than 86% nitric acid, it is referred to as fuming...
oxidizer, called IRFNA
Red fuming nitric acid is a storable oxidizer used as a rocket propellant. It consists mainly of nitric acid , also containing 13% dinitrogen tetroxide and 3% water. The dissolved nitrogen dioxide is very concentrated and can be found at room temperature...
. Each missile loaded 4,500 kg of liquid propellant, composed by a 22% of kerosene and 78% of IRFNA.
The Iraqis also modified the extension of the launch rail of 11 Soviet-produced MAZ-543 to fit them for the longer local-built missiles. The unit responsible for the maintenance and operation of the new missiles was initially the 224 Brigade, already established since 1976 to deal with the R-17 Scuds imported from the Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....
By 1989, a second army Brigade was formed, the 223, equipped with 4 locally developed trailer launchers, known as the Al-Nida
. There were also a second indigenous launcher, the Al-Waleed
, but apparently it never became operational.
Concrete is a composite construction material, composed of cement and other cementitious materials such as fly ash and slag cement, aggregate , water and chemical admixtures.The word concrete comes from the Latin word...
silos were built west of Ar Rutba
Ar Rutbah is an Iraqi town in western Al Anbar province. The population is approximately 55,000. It occupies a strategic location on the Amman-Baghdad road, and the Mosul-Haifa pipeline...
, near the border with Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...
. They were destroyed by precision bombing
Precision bombing is bombing of a small target with extreme accuracy, to limit side-effect damage. An example would be destroying a single building in a built up area causing minimal damage to the surroundings...
s carried out by USAF F-15s
The McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle is a twin-engine, all-weather tactical fighter designed by McDonnell Douglas to gain and maintain air superiority in aerial combat. It is considered among the most successful modern fighters with over 100 aerial combat victories with no losses in dogfights...
during the first hours of Operation Desert Storm.
Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988)
Up to 200 missiles were launched against Iran between 1987 and 1988, killing some 2,000 people. Teheran, Qom
Qom is a city in Iran. It lies by road southwest of Tehran and is the capital of Qom Province. At the 2006 census, its population was 957,496, in 241,827 families. It is situated on the banks of the Qom River....
and Isfahan became the usual targets. Their poor accuracy, while mostly ineffective to conduct a major strategic campaign, made of them basically weapons of terror, forcing thousands of refugees out of the main Iranian cities. This exchange of ballistic missiles was indeed known as 'the war of the cities'. The full-scale campaign lasted from 29 February 1988 until a truce was agreed by both sides on April 20. Iraq, which had been looking for some kind of compromise gesture from Iran, is largely viewed as the 'winner' by some authors.
According to Iranian sources, the fuselage and warhead were prone to break in to fragments while re-entering the atmosphere. Ironically, it would later represent an advantage as a counter-measure against the Patriot missile during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
Persian Gulf War (1991)
Eighty-eight of these modified Scuds were fired at Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...
(46) and Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...
(42) during January and February 1991.
The greatest tactical achievement of the Al-Hussein
was the destruction of a US military
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...
barracks in Dhahran
Dhahran is a city located in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province, and is a major administrative center for the Saudi oil industry. Large oil reserves were first identified in the Dhahran area in 1931, and in 1935 Standard Oil of California drilled the first commercially viable oil well...
, Saudi Arabia, on 25 February 1991, when 28 soldiers were killed and other 110 injured, effectively taking out of action an entire supply company
A company is a military unit, typically consisting of 80–225 soldiers and usually commanded by a Captain, Major or Commandant. Most companies are formed of three to five platoons although the exact number may vary by country, unit type, and structure...
, composed mainly of reservists
The United States Army Reserve is the federal reserve force of the United States Army. Together, the Army Reserve and the Army National Guard constitute the reserve components of the United States Army....
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...
One of the units involved in this incident, the 14th Quartermaster Detachment
The 14th Quartermaster Detachment, was a United States Army Reserve water purification unit stationed in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. During Operation Desert Storm the Detachment lost 13 soldiers in an Iraqi Al Hussein ballistic missile attack on 25 February 1991 at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia...
, specializing in water-purification, suffered the heaviest toll among US troops deployed in the Persian Gulf, with 81% of its soldiers killed or wounded. The other unit badly hit by the strike was the 47th Quartermaster Detachment.
The failure of the Patriot system in tracking the Iraqi missile over Dhahran was provoked by a shift in the range gate of the radar, due to the continuous use of the software for more than 100 hours without reseting.
Only 10 of the 46 Al-Hussein
launched at Saudi Arabia caused significant damage: two strikes on US military bases (including the barracks at Dhahran), one on a Saudi government building, and the remaining seven on civilian facilities. The following is a detailed list of these attacks:
- Attack Assessment
|| Place & date
|| Area damaged
|| Cause of damage
|| Intercepted by Patriot
|USAF air base
||Hangar area hit by explosion
1 F-15E damaged
1 Patriot launcher damaged
Civilian airport struck by debris
|Coalition air base
||Saudi Department of Interior
southeast of the capital
|North of the city
||Islamic University campus
Hafar Al-Batin is a Saudi Arabian city in the Eastern Province and located in the Northeastern region. It is located 480 km the north of Riyadh, 90 km from Kuwait border and about 70 from the Iraq border...
|King Khalid Military City
||Automobile workshop destroyed
|USAF air base
||US Army barracks destroyed
Besides the American soldiers, Saudi authorities reported one security guard killed and about 70 civilians injured as result of the missile strikes.
Thirty-eight of the 42 missiles aimed at Israel landed within the boundaries of that country; the other four fell on the West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...
Although thousands of houses and apartments were damaged by the strikes, only two people died directly as consequence of the impacts. Another 12 lost their life from indirect causes (suffocation
Suffocation is the process of Asphyxia.Suffocation may also refer to:* Suffocation , an American death metal band* "Suffocation", a song on Morbid Angel's debut album, Altars of Madness...
while wearing gas-masks and heart attacks).
From the strategic point of view, the threat posed by the Al-Hussein
was an Iraqi success, since it forced the coalition air forces to divert 40% of their missions to hunt the launchers along with their support vehicles and supplies. The ground war was postponed one week for this reason.
End of the program
Under the terms of the ceasefire of March 1991, corroborated by the resolution 687
United Nations Security Council Resolution 687, adopted on April 3, 1991, after reaffirming resolutions 660, 661, 662, 664, 665, 666, 667, 669, 670, 674, 677, 678 and 686 , the Council set the terms, in a comprehensive resolution, with which Iraq was to comply after losing the Gulf War.The...
of the UN Security Council, a commission (UNSCOM) was established to assure the dismantling of the Iraqi missile program. They were only allowed to purchase or produce missiles with a range no longer than 150 km. At the end of the war, the Iraqi government declared it had only 61 Al-Hussein
and other ballistic missiles in its arsenal. These weapons were destroyed under UNSCOM supervision. This process was completed by July 1991. The western powers were however suspicious that the Iraqi army may have hidden as many as 200 missiles. The Iraqis took advantage of the provisions of the ceasefire by developing two types of short-range ballistic missiles, the Ababil-100
and the Al-Samoud
Al-Samoud was a liquid-fuel ballistic missile developed by Iraq in the years between the Gulf War and the American Invasion.- Development :...
, which were in an experimental phase at the time of the Invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...
in 2003. These projects were part of the casus belli
is a Latin expression meaning the justification for acts of war. means "incident", "rupture" or indeed "case", while means bellic...
raised by the American administration against Saddam Hussein.