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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Jericho 1 / MD-620

Jericho 1The Jericho I is a two-stage, mobile, mobile system probably requiring no hardened firing sites. The short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) had a range variously estimated at between 480 and 750 kilometers, depending on warhead mass. During the Cold War precious little was reported and even less was known about this missile. Decades after the Cold War, declassified CIA documents reveal a two-stage missile that was considerably larger than the single stage missile that was widely assumed initially.

The Middle East missile race began in the early 1960's. After Israel's founding, its military power developed rapidly, with vigorous support from France, the United States and other Western countries. It soon achieved superiority over the Arab countries. Israel launched a solid-fuel meteorological rocket called the Shavit in 1961, and it formulated a plan for developing missiles.

In 1962, Israel made an agreement with the French firm of Marcel Dassault for the design, building, and testing of the MD-620, a missile with a payload of 3,000 pounds and a range of about 280 nautical miles. In September 1962, Shimon Peres approached the French company Marcel Dassault (now Dassault Aviation) asking them to "conduct feasibility research on the development and production of a ballistic surface-to-surface missile for Israel". Israel requested a missile "that can be launched at a firing rate of 4 to 8 missiles per hour from fixed or mobile launchers, with a maximum preparation time of two hours". In 1963 Israel secretly signed an agreement with Dassault Aircraft Corporation of France to buy that company's MD-620 and MD-660 missiles (with a 500-kilometer range, effective payload of 550 kilograms).

The background to the request was Egypt's ballistic missile initiative done by German scientists (a project that eventually failed). In order to counter Israel's military superiority and ensure national security, some Arab countries attempted, with assistance from foreign experts, to develop ballistic missiles, but they failed. Faced withthese circumstances, and due especially to the fact that the military power of the Arab nations was greatly reduced in the 1967 and 1973 wars, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Libya, and South Yemen purchased about 1,000 FROG-7 (range, 70 km) and Scud-B (range, 280 km) missiles from the Soviet Union from the late 1960s through the late 1970s.

The Jericho I is based on the French Dassault MD-600 missile and was originally developed in the 1960s when France was providing assistance to the country's nuclear weapons program, most notably with the Dimona reactor. The French/Israeli short-range MD-620 is a mobile system based on two tandem solid-propellant Topaz motors. The Topaz was the second composite propellant motor developed by the French and was the first to be guided by an autopilot controlling four gimbaled nozzles. The motor case is constructed of steel, and the composite propellant consists of ammonium perchlorate oxidizer and aluminum and polyurethane fuel the same constituents used in at least some of the IRBM motors. The first stage is very similar to the NA 803 Topaz motor but with the thrust termination devices omitted. The second-stage motor differs somewhat from the first stage. The four rotating nozzles, which protrude beyond the motor case, have been replaced by a single fixed nozzle. Control of second stage is achieved by aerodynamic fins. The thrust termination ports have been retained on the second stage to reduce the range.

The missile probably used an inertial guidance system, somewhat similar to that used in the French silo-launched missile. This could result in a CEP as small as about 2,000 feet at a range of 300 nautical miles. For a missile with this short range, however, an autopilot could be developed to produce a CEP of perhaps between one and two nautical miles.

The flight test program for the MD-620 began early in 1965 at the Ile duLevant Missile Test Range. The first flight experiment was conducted in 1 February 1965 (single-stage missile) On 16 March 1965, the second test of a two-stage missile was carried out. Very little information on flight tests had been obtained by Western intellgience by 1967. By the year 1969, CIA had rather complete technical data on the missile.

The program proceeded slowly, but the missile had been fired at least once at full range by 1968. In 1968, France imposed an arms embargo on Israel and the cooperation between Israel and the French factory was stopped, but Israel already had enough information to continue developing and producing on its own.

Although considerable testing and refinement still remained to be done, development of the missile by Dassault proceeded to the point that deployment in Israel in 1969 would be technically possible. The US did not know how many missiles the Israelis intended to deploy. The production plant belongs to IAI, where the Arrow and Shavit [Comet] missiles are also manufactured. A special railway track connects the plant to the nearby Wing 2 missile base. If they propose to use a high-explosive or chemical warfare warhead, they will presumably see a need for many more missiles than if nuclear warheads were used. It may be that Israel would decide to have some warheads of each type.

The picture was complicated by the pro-Arab stand that de Gaulle had taken since the June 1967 war. There was some question whether he would permit MD-620 missiles to be manufactured in France for Israel. He might be more disposed to let Israel get French technical help in building missiles for itself. In any case, he would find it more difficult to prevent Israel from getting this sort of assistance. Israel has, of course, paid substantial sums for the MD-620 research, development, and testing program, and almost certainly had specifications and other useful data. Moreover, Israel had done a considerable amount of domestic missile research, and had purchased missile-related manufacturing andtesting equipment over the previous six years.

With the knowledge gained in these various ways, Israel could go ahead on its own to build the MD-620, if de Gaulle refused to permit the Dassault firm either to deliver the missiles or to assist Israel in manufacturing them. But without French help, the US asssessed that probably would take Israel at least five years to deploy a missile system, and the cost would be substantially greater.

By 1968 the Israelis had never really been forthright with the USA in discussing their own planning on the introduction of the MD-620 surface-to-surface missiles that were being built under contract in France. Despite several probes in late 1967 (e.g. questioning of Brig. Gen. Ezer Weizman, Chief of Operations, Israeli Defense Forces, and a subsequent approach to Prime Minister Eshkol), all the US had been told is that an Israeli decision on moving from development to production of the MD-620s was not imminent and that Israel had not determined the role SSMs might play in its overall military posture.

A senior Israeli Foreign Ministry official told the US Charge that Prime Minister Eshkol believed the US was carrying inquiries in this field too far. The US was advised to ask again in “18-24 months” (Weizman) or “two to three years” (Eshkol). The US intelligence community, however, indicated that an initial operational capability of the MD-620 system, political considerations aside, was technically possible as early as 1969.

The Jericho was test-fired in 1968. The missile was designed with the help of the French company Dassault-Breguet, which was studying the MD-600 ballistic missile. After the French export embargo of armement to Israel in 1967, the development continued by Israel Defense Industries with internal technology. Jericho 1 went operational in 1973.

Reportedly, at one time the Mirage IV nuclear weapon was to be modified for installation on the MD-620 which probably meant a reentry vehicle weight of about 3;000 pounds. Use of the Mirage IV weapon seems unlikely, and it appears that if a nuclear device was developed by the Israelis, it would have adiameter of about 25 inches and a lighter reentry vehicle weight. Such a weapon could be installed in a reentry vehicle with a length of about five feet if ballasting were used. A wafer section containing flaps is attached to the rear of the reentry vehicle in order to stabilize the RV on reentering the atmosphere. Because of the missile's short range the reentry vehicle design was not expectedto present any significant difficulties.

Two modes of deployment were considered by the Israelis. One was a missile-under-mountain concept (MUM) where the missiles would be emplaced in tunnels in the side of hills and mountains and rolled out and erected to be fired. The second mode would utilize a semi-trailer transporter-erector-launcher(TEL) towed by a wheeled tractor which also is the launch control center. Its total length was reported to be about 60 feet and its width 8.2 feet. Each missile unit would consist of four of these TEL's each carrying one missile. Three additional missiles for each TEL would be carried on tractor-trailers, one to each vehicle, for a total of 16 missiles per launching unit. Reload and relaunching time was about one hour; thus, four missiles can be fired from each TEL in about three hours. The missile is erected by a hydraulic control system mountedon the trailer. The missile will be enclosed in an environmental cover which is removed before firing. The countdown would normally require about 30 seconds. The time to fire from a road march condition is unknown.

Detailed intelligence on the Israeli Advanced Weapons Program was contained in a DIA publication of that title, control number TCS-657029-69, updated 21 March 1969. Israel was in possession of at least one MD-620, JERICHO, 270-rnile, 2,200-pound warhead missile and had in being at least five facilities capable of supporting an indigenous missile development/production program. Its deployment, therefore, may be difficult to detect. Beginning in l969 Israel planned to produce and deploy up to 60 missiles.

Twenty-five missiles were scheduled for the test/development program, 18 were used, and the remaining seven contracted for delivery to Israel by mid-1969. Two missiles (one inert in 1967 and one live in July 1968) had been reported delivered to Israel. Reliable reports indicated that the first of the Israeli-produced missiles would be completed in late spring or summer of this year. It is likely that a native-produced missile would require at least a limited flight test program prior to or concurrent with operational deployment. Such a test program would confirm the possession and active production of Israeli produced JERICHOs.

According to an assessment by the Defense Intelligence Agency made public in November 1989, Israel had chemical and nuclear, as well as conventional high explosive warheads for its Jericho 1 missiles. The Jericho I reportedly has a 500 kilogram payload.

The Israeli arsenal reportedly contained as many as 100 of the Jericho 1 SSMs. Some reports claimed the missile was deployed in the Negev and near the Syrian border in the Golan Heights on mobile launchers. According to published reports, it can be transported via either a wheeled transporter erector vehicle (TEL) or using railroad cars [probably not].

In fact, the Jericho 1 [and Jericho 2] was deployed in silos at Sedot Mikha in the Judean foothills, about 20 km east of Jerusalem (and about 40 km southeast of Tel Aviv). The facility is located a few kilometers to the southeast of Tel Nof air base. From its deployment location in central Israel the Jericho-1 missile can reach such targets as Damascus, Aleppo, and Cairo.

Israel was about to supply South Africa with Jericho 1 missiles with nuclear warheads in the mid-1970s. This is a memorandum written by Raymond Amsterdam, Chief of Staff of the DRAF Army, in 1975 and whose confidentiality has recently been lifted. The memorandum confirms the information provided by Dieter Gerhardt, a senior naval officer of DRAF Shrigal for the Russians. According to the information, in November 1974, Israel's then defense minister, Shimon Peres, signed a secret cooperation agreement with the South African prime minister. John Worster. Under the agreement - called the Chalet - Israel was to supply DRAF with Jericho 1 missiles within a range of 500 km. As part of a secret agreement known as Burglar, Israel was to supply five 8 ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads - an agreement that raised questions about Israel's policy regarding the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Israel's desire to cooperate with South Africa stemmed from several reasons. South Africa was able to supply uranium from the uranium mines in its territory; Its vast area allows for a nuclear test (designed for the Kalahari Desert but discovered and canceled under international pressure), as well as Israel's need to fund the costly ballistic missile production project in Be'er Ya'akov. In 1974, DRAF began planning a nuclear test in the Kalahari Deserts. Israel's involvement is unclear - but the trauma of the Yom Kippur War (1973) could certainly have pushed it to want to conduct such a nuclear test. About 1979, a nuclear test was carried out over the Indian Ocean, not far from the coast of South Africa - with the cooperation of the two countries.

On 6 April 2000 srael launched a Jericho-1 ballistic missile from the launch site at Palmachim toward the Mediterranean as part of a flight test. The missile flew only about a 25-40 mile (40-65 km). The Aegis cruiser USS Anzio which sailed about 250 miles (400 km) off the coast of Israel. The ship tracked the missile almost from the moment it was launched using the Aegis systems. The Americans resented the fact that Israel did not report its intention to conduct the experiment despite the facat that such practices were standard procedures. According to a spokesman for the Israeli embassy, ??Mark Regev, "When we conduct a missile test, whether on land or at sea, there are safety practices that are strictly observed,... the test area was carefully inspected".

A U.S. official said, in the two years leading up to the incident, Israel fired two missiles at an environment in the sea where the U.S. Navy was stationed at the time, without informing them in advance. According to US Department of Defense officials, Israel did not report its intentions to conduct the tests. The Americans monitored the experiments and learned about the technical characteristics of the Jericho.

Additional flight tests on ballistic missiles launched from the Palmachim base and attributed to the Jericho missile took place on 17 January 2008, 02 November 2011, 12 July 2013, 05 May 2015, 29 May 2017, and 06 December 2019. The missile flights were observed from extensive areas in Gush Dan, but no official confirmation has been given for their identification.

In December 2017 , the Lebanese media reported al-Mayadin a newspaper in which he claimed that in an attack on Syria on December 2, 2017, Israel launched two surface-to-surface missiles of the "Jericho 1" model, intercepted by the Russian air defense system Panzir-S1 . This information has no further verification from a trusted source.

Israel never launched the Jericho missiles in an operational manner to destroy enemy targets, but has used their limited display for strategic deterrence purposes.

The first use of the Jericho missiles was on October 8, 1973. During the Yom Kippur War, Israel exposed the Jericho missiles so that they would be photographed by Soviet spy satellites while knowing that the photographs would be transferred to Egypt. This decision of the Chief of Staff David Elazar deploy the missiles and expose them to the spy satellite was due after receiving intelligence information passed to Israel by Col. Prof. Yuval Ne'eman who was at that time connects the prime minister to the Pentagon. The information contained satellite photographs that Egypt has deployed a battalion Scuds in The door of the Nile, and next to them Scud launchers are placed trucks that according to the analysis of technological intelligence The Americans are used to carry nuclear warheads to Scud,[4]And information about a Soviet cargo ship on its way to the port of Alexandria, which at the time of its passage in Dardanelles identified the US Navy as a radioactive substance.

Israel used the missiles at least once more and with knowledge of their capabilities, to signal its intentions. In 1990, in the midst of the Gulf War crisis, Israel exposed some of the missiles to an American spy satellite, as a sign of an end to the restraint policy imposed on it. According to the testimony of the United States Ambassador to Israel at that time, William Brown: "Later during the crisis, Israelis let our satellites peek at some of their Jericho missiles. They knew the message would get through, and they were right."

Prime Contractor IAI
Year Deployed 1973
Number Deployed ~50 missiles (reported)
Total Length45 ft
RV Length14 ft
Weight 14,400 lb (2,000 lb r/v)
4,500 kilograms
Throw-weight 2,000 lb r/v
500 kilograms
CEP perhaps 2,000 ft at 300-nm range
Propulsion two-stage
Guidance Inertial
Warhead Single
Warhead Type Conventional, chemical, or nuclear
Range 270 nm (2,000 lb r/v)
480-650 kilometers (reported)

Jericho 1

Stage Characteristics

TopazModified Topaz
Length (ft) 14.514.52.0
Diameter (in) 31.531.531.5
Total weight (lb) 5,9006,100400
Propellant weight (lb) 5,0005,030
Structure weight (lb) 9001,070
Propellant weight fraction 0.850.82
Burn time (sec) 4243
Thrust (lb) 29,000 (sl)34,000 (vac)
Isp (sec) 221 (sl)253 (vac)

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Page last modified: 01-10-2020 17:32:25 ZULU