Challenges of identifying and targeting Iranian-supplied missiles to Houthis

A missile that the US Department of Defense says is a “Qiam” ballistic missile manufactured in Iran and that the Pentagon says was fired by Houthi rebels from Yemen into Saudi Arabia on July 22, 2017 is seen on display at a US military base in Washington, on December 13, 2017. (Reuters)

On Thursday, when the US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley called a special press conference at an air force base in Washington, she was calling attention to the Iranian-origin missiles and other equipment being used to target neighbors in the Gulf, especially Saudi Arabia.

Among the main weapons was the Qiam (Uprising) missile which was used twice against Saudi Arabia - one on November 4 aimed at King Khalid International Airport north of Riyadh, And the other in last July towards Yanbu, where oil facilties are located. (WATCH VIDEO).

According to Stephen Bryen, writing in Asia Times, the Houthis call the Qiam 1 by another name - Burqam (Volcano) 2-H.

These are Iranian made and are based on licensed copies of the Hwasong-6 from North Korea.

When the missile and some of its parts were displayed at the Washington air base, clearly carried the markings of Iranian companies which had produced the components.

The range of Quiam missile is 750 kilometers and its accuracy (CEP, for circular error probable) is around 500 meters, which makes it ideal to hit large infrastructure targets such as oil refineries and airports. The transporter erector launcher (TEL) is also a North Korean copy of a Russian model.

China has also provided technology assistance and manufacturing know-how for Iran’s arms arsenal.

Qiam has a large, separable warhead of 748 kilograms which can carry either high explosives or a chemical-filled warhead. The missile is considered not large enough for a nuclear warhead.

Since Qiam’s warhead separates and re-enters the atmosphere apart from the missile body, defense systems like the Patriot missile may be unable to distinguish between the two and target the body instead of the warhead.

Qiam has also done away with the fins, instead using thrusters inside the missile body. Without the fins, it becomes harder to the missile in time.

The second problem comes from the fact that the fins on the original Scud-C have been removed and replaced with stabilizing thrusters that are inside the body of the missile body. The elimination of the fins, a major radar reflector, makes it harder to detect the Qiam and means that missile defenses are likely to activate later than optimally.

Is Iran’s ballistic missile arsenal for defense purposes?

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Last Update: 06:55 KSA 09:55 - GMT 06:55
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