Artillery: SCUDS Spotted Near Area 51



June 30, 2008: One valuable benefit the United States got from the Iraq war was six SCUD missiles, complete with launcher vehicles and support equipment. For the last five years, the six SCUDs have been at the Area 52 (also known as the Tonopah Test Range, which is about 100 kilometers from the more widely known, and similar, Area 51) in Nevada. Area 52 is a U.S. Air Force facility, and the six SCUDs are now being sent to the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground for additional tests. Even while the SCUDS were being scrutinized by the air force boffins, the other services were allowed to borrow some of the systems for training exercises. In these cases, pilots, and even ground troops, get an opportunity to look for, and identify a real SCUD system under combat conditions. The Department of Defense wants to optimize sensors to find SCUD systems under a wide variety of circumstances. The U.S. SCUDS are in firing condition, although the government won't say if any have actually been fired. There's plenty of space in Area 51 and 52 for something like that to take place, and be kept from public attention.

The SCUDs are actually World War II era technology. At the end of the war, the Russians captured some of the German scientists who had developed the V-2 ballistic missile. These Germans spent the next decade showing the Russians everything they knew (or else) and developing an "improved V-2" which became the Russian SCUD. The V-2 weighed 12 tons and had a range of 320 kilometers. The first (1957) model of the SCUD weighed 4.4 tons and had a range of 150 kilometers. It would land within 4,000 meters of the aim point, which was an improvement on the V-2. Both missiles are mobile, but the smaller SCUD is more so. At the same time the U.S. used its German V-2 scientists to develop the five ton Corporal ballistic missile. This was deployed in 1955 (and replaced by the more advanced solid fuel Sergeant missile in 1964). Both had a range of about 150 kilometers.

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