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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Al-Samud II / Long Range Ballistic Missile

The Al-Samud II missile program, begun in 2001, was the sucessor to Iraq's liquid-propellant ballistic missile efforts in the early 1990s with the Ababil-100-later known as the Al Samud. Like the previous two projects, the Al-Samud II was an effort to replicate the SA-2 Surface-to-Air missile (SAM) for Surface-to-Surface missile (SSM) applications. Iraq researched and developed the Al Samud II missile despite UN provisions, which prohibited such a system with its specification. Not only did the missile have range capabilities beyond the 150-km UN limit, but also Iraq procured prohibited items as well as received foreign technical assistance to develop and produce this system. The Iraq Survey Group (ISG), however, determined that the missile was not designed for Chemical or Biological Weapons (CBW) use, but for a unitary High Explosive warhead.

The Al-Samud II's diameter was increased to 760 mm from the 500 mm of the original Al-Samud. This change was ordered in June 2001 by 'Abd-al-Tawab 'Abdallah Al Mullah Huwaysh, the former Minister of Military Industrialization, even though it directly violated a UNSCOM mandate that Ababil-100 missile be less than 600 mm. In interviews after Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), Huwaysh claimed that the increase in size was due to a belief in optimal Lenghth to Diameter ratios (L/D) that allegedly caused the original Al-Samud project to fail. ISG believed that discussions of an "optimum" L/D are fallacious. Iraqi insistence that the diameter increase was intended solely to meet a specific L/D is more probably a ruse to increase the missile's internal volume-ostensibly for increasing the fuel capacity-thereby further increasing the maximum range potential.

The capability of the Al Samud II missile quickly showed a marked improvement over the unsuccessful Al Samud program. After several flight tests, the first of which occurred in August 2001, Iraq began a production ramp-up of the missile in September 2001. Several sources have corroborated Iraq's efforts to improve the accuracy of the system, using components, expertise, and infrastructure from other missile programs to accelerate fielding the Al Samud II. The key parameters for the Al Samud II are listed in Table 1.

Key Parameters of Al Samud II
Key Parameters
Propellants Fuel (TG-02) Oxidizer (AK20K)
Engine Modified SA-2 Engine (Volga)
Guidance and Control C601 and C611 gyroscopes
Body Aluminum Alloy with Stainless Steel Rings

The guidance system for the Al Samud II provided outputs to the control system that provided corrective signals to the 4 graphite jet vanes, redirecting the thrust vector of the modified SA-2 Volga engine. This arrangement, similar to the Scud, provided control in 3 axes, but only during the powered portion of flight. The missile reached apogee as the powered portion of flight ends (approximately 83 seconds in the case of the Al Samud II). The missile would be unguided after thrust termination and in a free-fall ballistic flight until impact. This limitation, coupled with the inaccuracies of the guidance and control system, resulted in large miss-distances. A senior source at Al Karamah informed ISG of a developmental effort to improve the accuracy of the Al Samud II using aerodynamic controls on the inboard sections of the aft stabilization fins. A high-pressure gas bottle would be used to supply air pressure to drive pneumatic-controlled actuators that provide aerodynamic control throughout both the missile's powered flight and through reentry. This improvement in control would have been incorporated following the completion of the initial guidance testing, most likely entering testing as early as the end of 2003. In addition, around 1999, Iraq was working to import new, modern, complete guidance packages from Russian and Serbian entities. Iraq was also intending to purchase Inertial Navigation Systems (INS), fiber-optic systems, and high-precision machinery for indigenous production of guidance and control components.

The Al Samud II was designed to carry a unitary HE warhead, which is an extrapolation of the Scud and Al Samud warhead designs. At the end of June 2001, Al Karamah modified the Al Samud warhead to accommodate the increase in diameter from 500 mm to 760 mm. A design payload of 300 kg for Al Samud was agreed to with the UN, but the actual payload was 280 kg. Iraq manufactured a new warhead shell with a 760-mm-base-diameter and a length of 2,142 mm. The HE was housed in the forward section of the warhead and additional space reserved in the base for an air bottle that would provide pneumatics to control surfaces yet to be implemented in the missile fins (see Guidance and Control section). To compensate for the additional weight of the warhead shell and guidance system, the amount of HE was reduced. The booster for the emergency detonator was to be reinstalled, once confidence was gained in the guidance system.

Filling of the Al Samud warhead was a manual process; however, the study recommended that compressing the explosive material into the warhead by using a hydraulic press would improve the density and thus effectiveness and safe handling of the explosive material. The theoretical filling requirements for the study of the Al Samud II warhead were:

  • Total weight: 280 kg
  • Explosive charge weight: 140 kg
  • Warhead metal container weight: 140 kg
  • Composition of explosive mixture: 60% RDX= 84 kg, 30% TNT= 42 kg & 10% AL= 14 kg.

Iraq relied on foreign assistance to develop the Al Samud II program from its early beginnings, importing Russian expertise and approximately 280 SA-2 engines through the Polish company Evax by the end of 2001, followed by an additional 100 engines from Al Rawa'a. Although advancements in the Al Samud II program were achieved quickly, shortage of necessary components limited production. Several sources estimated the number of missiles produced and delivered to the Army by OIF. According to a former high-level official, Iraq began serial production of the Al Samud II missile beginning in December 2001. The production goal was to yield 10 full missiles a month. ISG believed that, because of a lack of certain components, Iraq did not always meet this monthly quota, while in some months they may have surpassed it-the production was dependent upon their success at importing components. The table below represents ISG's assessment of Iraq's missile holdings at the time of OIF

ISG Assessment of Al Samud II Missile Accountability
  Worst Case Likely Case Best Case
Missiles Produced 150 130 121
Used in tests 22 25 27
Destroyed under UNMOVIC 72 72 72
Launched during OIF 5 5 5
Damaged/Captured/to Iran 15 15 17
Unaccounted for 36 13 0

After Iraq disclosed in its CAFCD that, on at least 13 occasions, its Al Samud II missile had reached ranges beyond 150 km, the UN put a stop to Al Samud II flight-testing until they could further assess the system's capabilities. UNMOVIC convened a panel of missile experts in February 2003, which concluded that the Al Samud II violated UN statutes, and, therefore, the program should be frozen and the missiles destroyed. Beginning in March, UNMOVIC supervised the destruction of 72 missiles and the disablement of 3 launchers. The missile destruction program was incomplete when the inspectors left in mid-March, leaving Iraq with Al Samud II missiles that could be used against Coalition forces. Iraq launched approximately five Al Samud II missiles against Coalition forces during OIF before the system was recalled due to failures. Although there was a freeze ordered by UNMOVIC, according to a former senior official at Al Karamah, Iraq produced approximately 20 missiles during the first quarter of 2003. Another source claimed that, after UNMOVIC inspectors departed the country in March 2003, Iraq was able to assemble about 4 Al Samud II missiles from remaining parts that had been placed in mobile trucks to avoid air strikes. These missiles were not delivered to the Army.

In February 2003, U.N. inspectors evaluated two versions of the Al Samoud 2 missile using four separate computer models. Both versions were found to exceed the range limit of 150 kilometers set by the U.N. Security Council. The lighter version of the Al Samoud 2 was estimated to have a range of 193 kilometers, while the heavier version would be capable of a 162 km range. Accordingly, it was requested that all Al Samoud 2 missiles and warheads be delivered to the inspectors for destruction.

A cache of 12 Al Samoud missiles was found south of Bayji at LD7154 and LD7644 on 21 July 2003 at 1700 hrs.

Long-Range Ballistic Missile Projects

Though unable to overtly develop long-range missile projects, compelling evidence suggests that Iraq, in order to reach targets like Tel Aviv and Tehran, never abandoned its interest in delivery systems with ranges well beyond 150 km. Husayn Kamil's flight to Jordan effectively ended all work on long-range missiles until the efforts were reconstituted after 1998. A senior Iraqi missile engineer stated that the subject of long-range missiles (i.e., missiles with ranges greater than the 150 km) was not raised again until 1997/98 at a monthly ballistic missile meeting chaired by Huwaysh at MIC. At the meeting, Huwaysh reportedly stated his desire for a 1,000-km missile. According to Kamal Mustafa "Abdallah Sultan Al Nasiri, the former Secretary General of the Republican Guard, Huwaysh in the summer of 1999 gave a speech to the Republican Guard and SRG audience in which he stated that Iraq was developing a missile with a range of 500 km and that it would take five years to develop. At a June 2000 meeting, Saddam ordered Huwaysh to develop a missile with a range greater than the range of the Samud II, according to a senior official within the Iraqi missile program.

ISG retrieved copies of Iraqi design drawings for two long-range missiles, one based on a cluster of two SA-2/Volga engines and the other based on a five-engine cluster. One design uses a two-engine cluster mounted in a flared engine bay that supports a 760-mm-diameter airframe. Iraqi experts have assessed the range of this version to be at least 500 km. The propellant tanks, pressurization system, G&C, and warhead of this concept would be common with the 760-mm Al Samud II ballistic missile. The second design uses a five-engine cluster mounted in a flared engine bay that supports a 1,250-mm-diameter airframe. Iraqi missile experts assessed this design would reach a range of at 950-1,000 km (see bottom image for design).

ISG's confirmation that Iraq was working on designs for long-range clustered-engine missiles, although this work never progressed beyond the design phase, is evidence that the Regime was covertly researching the development of missiles with ranges in excess of 150 km. Further, Iraq took advantage of existing Al Samud II designs and had begun to develop the infrastructure that could have led to rapid development of these concepts. The use of a 760-mm-diameter airframe could allow the use of Samud II jigs and fixtures to support the two-engine cluster design. ISG judged that it could provide a good concealment mechanism for work on prohibited programs.

Statements by various sources indicate that, before OIF, Iraq had over 200 SA-2 engines that had been scavenged from damaged missiles. Adding to this, at least 380 engines imported from Poland and possibly Russia or Belarus were more engines than probably required to immediately support the Al Samud II program. Some of these engines could have been available for use if Iraq had moved forward with a clustered-engine development program.

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