Jeffrey LewisMore SS-sumthin' Pics

Hey folks! So much missile stuff lately — the National Academies has released its final report on conventonal prompt global strike and Iran claims to have launched a two stage missile (The Taepo-hab?).

I am in Ithaca attending a technical workshop on space security, surrounding by Geoff Forden, Ted Postol, David Wright and Benn Earthenberm, among others.

For now, though I want to share two more pictures of presumed Russian missile debris from Georgia from a colleague who wishes to remain anonymous.

Other notes on Russian conventional missile options:

  • Michael Gordon has an article in the New York Times entitled Missile Launchers Tighten Russia’s Grip on Georgia that quotes American officials as saying Russia has deployed SS-21s in South Ossetia. (That doesn’t prejudice the claim that Russia used longer range missiles that could cover targets in Georgia from Russian territory.)
  • GRAU numbers. Our commentators are leaning toward the possible use of the SS-26 based on the 9M723 numerical designation (GRAU number) on what appears to be a solid rocket motor.
  • The portion of the rocket body laying across a car — perhaps in Poti — appears to be an SS-21. (I took the Gori designation from a hand gesture by Shota Utiashvili, which was ambiguous. The New York Times has another shot of the car, identified as having occurred in Poti.)


  1. Gridlock (History)
  2. blowback (History)

    If that image of the tail of a missile laying across the car features an SS21, then it looks like a posed photo to me – a ballistic missile such as the SS21 would be travelling at high supersonic speeds when it impacted the car giving it substantial kinetic energy as well as the explosive energy of the warhead. There would be little left of the rocket and not much more left of the car except for chunks of debris. The Georgians have fabricated much about this war, so why shouldn’t they fabricate this evidence. As a former member of the Soviet Union, their artillery is likely to have been left with some SS21s, so the fabrication would not be impossible.

    BTW, I also believe that the Russians have fabricated much about this war.

  3. Sean O'Connor (History)

    If the SS-21s are using submunition warheads (which may explain Georgian claims of cluster bomb use by the Russians) then the missile body may be jettisoned when the warhead splits to release the submunitions. I’ll look into how the SS-21 functions and see what’s up.

  4. Lao Tao Ren (History)


    Permit me to draw attention to your excellent post titled, “Russia, Georgia and Disinformation”, and in particular, your conclusions which have a major bearing on the spat between NATO and Russia today:

    “Neither Georgia nor Russia are entirely without fault in the current conflict. Georgia escalated the conflict by attacking the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali following clashes with separatists. Russia took it to a wholly different level with a massive military campaign designed to deny Georgia the ability to inflict further damage to South Ossetia. However, misreporting and deliberate distortion of the facts by the worldwide media has led to a convoluted picture of the events that have taken place. The fact that so many of the most commonly reported news items can be disassembled piece by piece with a few minutes of research places doubts on the credibility and objectivity of these establishments. When dealing with Russia after the cessation of hostilities, it would be wise to remember that there is no evidence to suggest a preplanned and orchestrated campaign to allow Russia to invade South Ossetia and Georgia. Painting Russia as a resurgent Evil Empire is a sign of unsubstantiated bias and nothing more. After all, Russia did warn Georgia that escalation was possible, and Saakashvili chose to give them the excuse needed to ensure the integrity of South Ossetia, perhaps permanently. Arguing that Russia’s methods were overkill is one thing, accusing them of trying to take over the Caucasus is another thing entirely.”

    Thank you Sean!

  5. The North Coast Curmudgeon (History)

    I’m pretty sure that the object in the house, is the same object that is shown in image, “bomba14.” If you look at the pattern of the cracks in the shell, they match up pretty well.