Saturday, October 25, 2008

Missile Test Calendar 2008


01/17 Israel

Jericho-3?, nuclear-capable IRBM

01/22 Russia

P-500 (SS-N-12) Bazalt, nuclear-capable cruise missile

01/25 Pakistan

Shaheen-1 (Hatf IV), nuclear-capable SRBM


02/01 Pakistan

Ghauri (Hatf V), nuclear capable MRBM

02/13 Pakistan

Ghaznavi (Hatf III), nuclear-capable SRBM

02/20 Iran

optimized S-200

02/26 India

Sagarika (K-15), nuclear-capable SLBM


03/05 India

sea-based BrahMos, cruise missile

03/23 India

Agni-I, nuclear capabale SRBM

03/28 DPRK

Three KN-02 SRBM tests


04/02 USA

Minuteman III, nuclear-capable ICBM

04/19 Pakistan

Shaheen-2 (Hatf VI), nuclear-capable MRBM

04/21 Pakistan

Shaheen-2 (Hatf VI), nuclear-capable MRBM

04/25 Norway

Naval Strike Missile (NSM), cruise missile


05/07 India

Agni-III, nuclear capable IRBM; two or three more tests before serial production

05/08 Pakistan

Ra'ad (Hatf VIII), nuclear capable ALCM

05/12 Bangladesh

C-802A, anti-ship missile

05/15 USA

NLOS-LS Precision Missile

05/22 USA

Minuteman III, nuclear-capable ICBM

05/23 India

Prithvi-II, SRBM

05/29 China

JL-2, nuclear-capable SLBM

05/30 DPRK

Three SRBM tests


06/04 USA

Upgraded PAC-3

06/04 UK

Principals Anti-Air Missile System

06/05 USA


06/17 USA

Tomahawk Block IV, nuclear capable cruise missile

06/25 USA

THAAD Interceptor


07/06 Israel

Tamir Interceptor, Iron Dome

07/09 Iran

Shahab-3, Zelzal, Fateh

07/27 India

Nag, anti-tank guided missile


08/01 Russia

SLBM, probably R-29R

08/05 India

Nag, Anti-Tank Guided Missile

08/27 Russia

Topol, nuclear-capable ICBM


Astra, air-to-air missile


BMD interceptor test, exo-atmospheric


09/17 Japan

PAC-3 test at White Sands Missile Range

09/17 USA


09/18 Russia

Bulava (SS-NX-30), nuclear-capable SLBM


10/07 DPRK

Short range missiles: KN-01, KN-02, Styx

10/11 Russia

R-29RM Sineva SLBM

10/12 Russia

R-29R SLBM (SS-N-18 Stingray)
R-29RM SLBM (SS-N-23 Skiff)
Topol, nuclear-capable ICBM

10/17 Russia

Buk-M1 surface-to-air missile systems (unconfirmed)

10/22 Russia

SS-19, nuclear-capable ICBM



Late 2008


Arrow-3, SAM


Iron Dome


Agni-V, ICBM


BrahMos, cruise missile, underwater launch


RS-24, nuclear-capable ICBM

SS-19 tested

On October 22 the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces successfully performed a test-launch of a UR-100NUTTH/SS-19. The test was part of the checks needed to extend the service of the weapon until 2010.

The Rocket Forces are expected to conduct two more launches this year, one of which would be a test of the RS-24 missile. Moscow is highly optimistic that the upcoming RS-24 test will be successful; it already plans to put this type of missile in service in 2009.

Image © Риа Новости

Monday, October 20, 2008

Outer space-y missile defense

Earlier this month the U.S. Sate Department’s International Security Advisory Board issued a report titled “China’s Strategic Modernization”. The report finds that "the United States will need to pursue new missile defense capabilities, including taking full advantage of space," to avoid an "emerging creep" by China toward strategic nuclear coercion, the report said. Read this Washington Post article for further information.

The report's phrase “full advantage of space” is opaque enough to be interpreted in both ways, either to cover only a militarization of space or also a weaponization. The Congress already gave an indication of its interpretation of the report’s finding: it voted recently to approve $5 million for a study of space-based missile defenses, the first time the development of space weapons will be considered since similar work was canceled in the 1990s.

Friday, October 17, 2008

We can do it!

We can do it! That might have been the motto of the recent days of the Russians. The military conducted its Stabilnost-2008 exercise.

The show started on Saturday, October 11, when the Tula submarine successfully launched a R-29RM Sineva SLBM. Officials bragged that the missile reached its target after flying 11,547 km which was reported to be the longest range demonstrated by the missile.

On the following day, October 12, the Northern Fleet’s Ekaterinburg and the Pacific Fleet’s Zelenograd joined the shooting. While the Zelenograd fired a R-29R missile (SS-N-18 Stingray) the Ekaterinburg test-launched a R-29RM. Pavel Podvig writes on his blog:

Unlike the test a day before, on October 11, 2008, this one was not reported to be a test of the Sineva modification of the R-29RM missile. It appears that Ekaterinburg normally carries older R-29RM missiles, but can be used to launch Sineva as well.
However, the Russian First Channel reported that it was a the Sineva-type of the R-29RM. Have you recently improved your Russian? Give it a try here:

For a few notes on a comparison between the original and the Sineva-type of the R-29RM take a look at an earlier post.

Also on October 12, Russia test-launched a Topol ICBM which hit a target on Russia's Pacific coast.

It seems that attending missile launches is becoming the new favorite hobby of president Medvedev. He was not only present at the launches of the Sineva on Saturday but also at the one of the Topol on the following day. On September 26 he attended the firing of the Tochka-U (SS-21 Scarab) short-range tactical ballistic missile. The Tochka-U is a 1989 modification of the Tochka missile system that went into service with the Soviet military in 1976. It has an effective range of 120 km.

Reuters India reports further that:

Over the course of the weekend, 12 Tu-160 and Tu-95MS strategic bombers took off for an exercise that involved launching multiple cruise missiles to pulverise a dummy town on a testing ground in the Arctic.
Pavel reports that in the course of the exercise, some bombers launched full complement of their missiles. Tu-160 never fired full complement of their missiles before.

Reuters also quoted analysts saying that the Stabilnost exercise was a show of military preparedness for domestic consumption and not a Kremlin warning shot to the West. President Medvedev added to this PR-campaign by saying that two new systems were being developed. However, he provided no details.

RIA Novosti cited Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov as stating that plans were already under way for a follow-up exercise with a joint strategic command-and-staff exercise called Zapad-2009 next year.

Besides playing with its own missiles, Russia is optimistic to sell its Iskander-E to a number of countries. Rosoboronexport-official Nikolai Dimidyuk said that Syria, the UAE, Malaysia, India and some other countries have shown an interest in the missile system and that Russia will also seek to export the missile to Algeria, Kuwait, Singapore, Vietnam, and South Korea.

But it is not all offensive. There are also some developments on the defensive side. UPI came up with the news that mobile air defense units around Moscow planned to conduct live-fire exercises on this Thursday, October 17, using Buk-M1 surface-to-air missile systems. Apart from this announcement I have not found any post-firing news.

Moscow is also keen to extend its missile defense to other areas. Russia and Belarus will sign an agreement creating a joint missile defense system, secretary of the Union State Pavel Borodin told journalists on October 8. He added: "Military speaking, it is virtually a shield against NATO”. Belarus has several Russian-made S-300 air defense divisions on combat duty and is negotiating the purchase of advanced S-400 systems from Russia, which will be made available by 2010. The signing of the agreement will take place on November 2.

At the same time Russia tried to present itself as a responsible global actor and nonproliferator. Its Foreign Ministry suggested that Moscow would not sell advanced anti-aircraft missiles such a S-300 to Iran, a possibility that has alarmed Israel:

We have declared more than once at the very highest political level that we do not intend to supply those types of armaments to countries located in regions that are, to put it mildly, uneasy," he said. "This is not in the interests of our country's policy or the interests of preserving stability in one region or another of the world."
© Medvedev, Topol: Reuters
© Iskander: Kommersant

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Cross-blogging: Chandipur

Sean O'Connor posted on his IMINT & Analysis blog two short pieces on missile test facilities. One on the Indian Chandipur missile test complex and another one on a test facility in North Korea.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Pyongyang's missile barrage

These are hard times for dictators. The financial crisis draws all the attention and also the theocracies in the Middle East steal the show from Kim Jong Il. Even the threat to restart Yongbyon left the world not in shock and awe. So it is time to take a look into the toolbox and find something to emphasize the own standing. Voila! There is something reliable: a missile test!

On Tuesday, October 7, North Korea has test-fired short-range missiles into the Yellow Sea. As it is usually the case with information coming from or about DPRK, nothing is known for sure. It is not even clear whether one or two missiles were fired but the majority of sources refer to two.

Some South Korean media said the North fired either surface-to-ship KN-01 or KN-02 missiles or Russian-designed ship-to-ship Styx missiles. The Seoul Times limits the choice of missiles to the KN-02 and the Styx. KBS reports that a South Korean military official said the missiles were not ballistic ones, but cruise-missiles, either anti-ship Styx missiles or KN-02 missiles. South Korean intelligence sources earlier on Tuesday said there were signs that the North Korean Army was getting ready to fire KN-01 and Styx from Chodo, South Hwanghae Province, where its ninth Flotilla is stationed.

Let’s take a look at these three missiles: The P-15 Termit (SS-N-2 Styx) is a Soviet anti-ship cruise missile with a range between 35 and 80km, depending on the type. The KN-01 is based on the Styx , or the essentially similar Chinese supplied HY-2 (Silkworm) missile but has its range extended to 120km. In contrast to the two aforementioned missiles, the KN-02 is a single-stage ballistic missile based on the solid-propellant guided Soviet 9K79 Tochka (SS-21 Scarab). Again, the DPRK tinkered a bit with the range and extended it to 120km.

This shows that the KBS information is contradictory in itself because the KN-02 is a ballistic! But besides that the best one could come up with is that most likely a Styx missile was launched. Probably also a KN-01. I hope that more information will come up soon.

Meanwhile, some sources were even more creative in their thinking: conflicting speculation has arisen over whether Tuesday's missile test-launch was from aircraft:

Yonhap said North Korea was believed to have used a Soviet-made Antonov AN-2 to fire two anti-ship KN-01 missiles, while some other sources raised speculation that the North fired air-to-ship missiles from an IL-28 bomber also built by Russia.
As you might have guessed given the uncertainties of the previous information, no confirmation is available for the air-launch.

South Korean officials downplayed Tuesday's firing as part of routine military drills. The North has carried out such short-range missile tests many times before, the last two tests were conducted in March and May. The U.S. Department of State has even declined to confirm the Tuesday-tests and said that it "would advise against" any short-range missile firing.

It seems that the Dear Leader was not very impressed by this warning. The South Korean Chosun Ilbo reported the North is preparing to test as many as 10 missiles in the next days. That many missiles were deployed on the country’s west coast and Pyongyang may test fire at least five of them, the newspaper said. A government source was quoted saying that the North Korean military is preparing KN-01 surface-to-ship and Styx ship-to-ship missiles. South Korean media speculated that the upcoming launches could be a firework-contribution to the South's current celebrations of the 60th anniversary of its armed forces or to the anniversary of North Korea's ruling communist party.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Missile Defense and more

Even though it is hard to believe but there are still other news besides those on the financial crisis. For example this one: the Obama-camp has expressed support for the European missile defense bases, despite Moscow’s protests that the deployments would threaten Russia. One of Obama’s senior advisers said on October 2 that “Serious conversation needs to be had with the Russians about what we’re trying to do, because it is not anti-Russian.” The other side in the presidential race has a different understanding of the purpose of the missile defense system and bluntly speaks of a new justification:

Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain (Ariz.) has strongly supported missile defenses to protect the United States and its allies, in addition to discussing a possibly rising threat from Moscow.
So McCain takes this position in spite of all the vehement declarations that the European GMD bases are NOT directed against Russia. The times, they are a-changin' – and so does the rhetoric.

The support for the European bases has also increased elsewhere. According to a new poll the support by the Czechs ticked up by 10 percent to an amount of 38 percent. The majority of the population, 55 percent, is still opposed. Meanwhile a speaker of the parliament in Prague said that the discussions on the ratification of the Czech-U.S. agreement may begin in November.

The shift from objection to support is even greater in Poland: support for the interceptor base rose to 41 percent in early September, compared to 27 percent in early August, before the much-disputed deal was reached. Opposition to the plan dropped to 46 percent from 56 percent, over that same time.

While the U.S. administration certainly loved to read about these new polls, there are other things that are not to their taste: a GAO report says that the United States has increasingly failed in attempts to launch mock enemy missiles for its test interceptors to destroy. The failure rate has more than double over the course of the last three year up to now 16 percent. This comes at a time at which the unit costs of the mock warheads increased eightfold up to almost US$ 50m.

The United States also spent some money on another type of missile: Washington is weary to leave the super- and hyper-sonic cruise missiles to India and Russia alone. Therefore Boeing has been awarded an $18.3 million follow-on contract from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to conduct a third powered flight of the HyFly hypersonic missile. The first two tests were conducted in September 2007 and January 2008, respectively. In January the HyFly boosted to Mach 3.5.

With all these expenses, Washington needs to generate some income. Therefore it is money-wise quite helpful that the United States plans to sell PAC-3 missile defense systems to Taiwan as part of a $6.5 billion armaments deal.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Developments in the Middle East

The United States deployed a X-band radar in the Negev desert in southern Israel at the end of September. With its range of 2,000km and its ability to target the warheads of long- or medium-range missiles in space the radar helps Israel to create a layered missile defense capability. Israel’s current Green Pine radar can track missiles within 800 to 1,000km. The new radar give Israel a vital extra 60-70 seconds to react if Iran fired a missile, Israeli military sources told the Time magazine. The X-band is operated by a permanent 120-strong US Army staff. The deployment is not welcomed unanimously. Time magazine reports that

One senior Israeli defense official said that while the U.S. radar would boost Israel’s defenses against potential Iranian air or missile attacks, the United States could also use it to spy on the sensitive military activities of its ally.
One top official complained: "It's a like a pair of golden handcuffs on Israel." Linked to the X-band radar are also Israeli plans to place two radar antennae near its Dimona nuclear reactor.

One “side-effect” of the radar is that it enables the U.S. to monitor aircraft in the skies over southern Russia.

Israel is not the only country in the Middle East that works on its (anti-) missile capabilities. Saudi Arabia has requested 250 AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missiles from the United States. In addition to that the Kingdom has also 84 Sidewinder captive air training missiles, 12 Sidewinder dummy air training missiles as well as containers and spare parts on its wishlist.

Turkey is another country that has accelerated its various missile projects. On September 25 the country's military procurement agency issued two separate tenders for the acquisition of low and medium altitude air defense missile systems, namely the Turkish Low Altitude Air Defense Missile System (T-LALADMIS) and the Turkish Medium Altitude Air Defense Missile System (T-MALADMIS). Turkey also plans to purchase up to 12 long-range air and missile defense systems (T-LORAMIDS) at a cost of $4 billion, a project for which US, Chinese and Israeli companies are competing. In order to fill gaps in its defense system, Turkey plans to acquire different types of missile systems: Russia's Rosoboronexport will provide Turkey with 80 Kornet-E medium-range anti-tank weapon systems (MRAWS) and 800 missiles, in a contract worth around $100 million. Turkey also intends to procure 107 US-built Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM).