Strategic Weapons: November 8, 2003

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Syria, with help from North Korea, Iran and China, is completing construction of underground storage and launch facilities for its arsenal of over a thousand SCUD missiles. Armed with 1,000 pound high explosive and cluster bomb warheads, the missiles have ranges of 500-700 kilometers. Syria also has some 90 older Russian Frog-7 missiles (70 kilometer range, 1000 pound warhead) and 210 more modern Russian SS-21 missiles (120 kilometer range, payload 1000 pound warhead) operating with mobile launchers. There are also 60 mobile SCUD launchers. The Syrians have a large network of camouflaged launching sites for the mobile launchers. Iran and North Korea have also helped Syria build underground SCUD manufacturing and maintenance facilities. The Syrian missiles are meant to hit Israeli airfields, missile launching sites and nuclear weapons sites. Syria hopes to do enough damage with a missile strike to cripple Israeli combat capability. Israel, however, is aware of the Syrian capabilities and any war with Syria would probably result in some interesting attacks on the Syrian missile network. The SCUD is a liquid fuel missile and takes half an hour or more to fuel and ready for launch. So underground facilities are a major defensive measure against an alert and astute opponent like Israel.

 


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