Jeffrey LewisSchmucker/Schiller on Iran’s Qiam

Our friends Robert Schmucker and Markus Schiller send along a short note on Iran’s Qiam missile, concluding that it is a test bed for a new guidance system that will eventually find its way in the Sejil.

The recent launch of Qiam 1 seems to raise some questions. We will try our best to fill at least some of the vacuum at technical missile analysis that was created with Geoff’s absence. So, let us try to shed some light on Iran’s new missile with a quick first and preliminary analysis.

As Josh pointed out, the lack of fins seems to be the most intriguing aspect of the Qiam 1. The pics of the missile’s aft section clearly indicate that it was originally fitted WITH fins, though. Since it makes no sense at all to develop a new missile WITH fins and remove them at first launch, this one could be a modification of an older, well known rocket.

The launch table looks familiar, and the size relation of missile diameter and launch table also do. The rocket obviously is liquid propelled, most likely with IRFNA and kerosene (exhaust flame and plume!). The launch acceleration seems higher than that of Shahab 3 (1.8 g) – we have not yet analyzed it, but it probably is about 2 g. Cable duct positions and positions of the markings along the missile body (twin white stripes) also are familiar: The missile definitely is a Scud variant, but with slightly elongated tanks compared to Scud B (thus the lower initial launch acceleration than that of Scud B, which has 2.2 g). With the 0.88 m diameter, the warhead baby bottle is the well known Ghadr-1 (or Shahab 3M) warhead, with the typical 0.88 m base and 0.6 m body diameter. Length also is identical.

So, what does this mean?

Most probably, the Iranians tested a new guidance that is able to control aerodynamically unstable rockets (no fins!). This feature is desired if the missile is to be launched from a container – either mobile or stationary (silo).

In this case, Qiam 1 is only the first test in a row, and we will soon see Qiam 2, which will again be declared as a “new missile with higher accuracy” in the press release. After that – because it makes sense to have a Sejil without fins as an ultimate goal for silo or container launch – we can expect a launch of the Sejil with the new guidance system and without fins, probably again designated as a “new missile”.

Though detailed analysis still has to be done, it seems clear that the Qiam is a modified Scud that is used as a technology test bed.

–Robert Schmucker and Markus Schiller


  1. Qiam (History)

    You do not need to be an expert to know that this missile is both shorter and thinner than any Scud variant. The engines of the scuds could not fit into the Qiam and so it has new engines.

    • Jochen Schischka (History)

      You’ll just have to be an expert to know that this missile is only a little bit shorter and NOT thinner than the Scud-B/-C. So, the engine of the Scud can fit into the same 880mm diameter of the Qiam without problems.

  2. oogede (History)

    “Most probably, the Iranians tested a new guidance that is able to control aerodynamically unstable rockets”

    for instance….?

  3. Scott (History)

    I believe you are very wrong sir. While this missile maybe related to the Scud, it’s fairly easy to find that it isn’t the same dimensions. I have an image of this missile with a man next to for scale (to the left of the missile). Now, assuming the man is 1.8 meters, I measure the Missile to be roughly 5 times his height which makes the missile roughly 9 meters in length. Using that same measure, I have estimated the missile to have a diameter of 0.68 meters. Before you discount it, consider this. Using that same method, for this missile to have the same diameter and height as just the Scud-B (11.25m length and .88 meter diameter), that man next to the missile would have to be over 7 feet tall! I obviously can not post the image here but I do have the original link so please study it for yourselves.

  4. Scott (History)

    Here is some more evidence. If this is just a modified Scud than logically it is using the same erector system. Therefore if we compare images of the Qiam-1 and Scud-B on attached to their erectors they should look to be the same height in proportions to the erector..However it is fairly clear from these images they are not. Here are two links showing a Scud-B and Qiam-1 for comparision.

  5. Bruno (History)

    “This feature is desired if the missile is to be launched from a container – either mobile or stationary (silo).”

    And it decreases the drag and therefore increases range. Anybody has an idea how much this would be?

  6. Simorgh (History)

    For me, too the dimensions do not add up.
    In the best picture I could get, the missile is about 32 pixels wide, the guys standing next to it (not in front) are about 80 and 78 pixels tall. If the diameter was 0,88m that would mean they are about 2,20m and 2,15m tall.

    • Bruno (History)

      Considering an average tallness of the people standing beside the missile of 1.75-1.80m and playing with different planes based on the shadows of those people on the ground I get a diameter of the missile somewhere between 0.75 and 0.8m.

    • Jochen Schischka (History)

      Ah, so by now the people aren’t 2.5m tall anymore?

      I’ll have to say (or rather write) that again: the persons do NOT stand at the same distance from the camera than the missile itself, but somewhat closer. I know this can be confusing, but if you look closer (consider the shadows on the ground), then you’ll notice that the man standing farthermost back stands a little bit in front of the frame of the MEL – and that’s still CLOSER TO THE CAMERA than the missile itself. Besides, note that Iranians can be 2.0m tall, too (they’re not the tiniest lot on this planet)…

      Please consider what makes more sense:
      The Iranians constructing a completely new, ~10% smaller missile body with ALL ASPECTS of a Shahab-2/Scud-C, a reentry vehicle perfectly resembling that of the Ghadr-1 and Sejil in EVERY ASPECT, only 10% smaller, plus a 10% smaller rocket engine with exactly the same propellants and cooling concept than the Scud’s 9D21, all this in the face of already available Shahab-2’s/Scud-C’s – or YOU (slightly) misinterpreting that photo.

  7. Jochen Schischka (History)

    I must say that i’m not sure if this automatically requires a completely new guidance system.

    A new guidance concept (fully relying on ‘active stability’) and modifications – certainly.
    I’m just not sure if the original Scud Horizont/Vertikant-guidance can’t be tweaked somehow to perform accordingly.

    The main point would certainly be if all this reacts fast enough for ‘active stability’ – and that’s mostly a jet-vane actuator issue in my eyes (provided the missile’s overall center of mass is not too far ahead, particularly around Mach 1). Still, at the moment i see no cogent reason why the Scud’s actuators should not fill the neccessary requirements.

    • Jochen Schischka (History)

      Hmmm, i’ll have to correct myself.
      I had completely forgotten the pressure gas torus on top of the Scud-C’s guidance compartment.
      So the Qiam-1’s guidance system indeed must be shorter to fit into the corresponding volume together with that torus.
      Interesting. Maybe this is somehow related to the Fateh-110 guidance system?

  8. joshua (History)

    I would urge everyone to put their cards on the table — provide a pointer to the images you are discussing.

    • Scott (History)

      I posted the image I was talking about earlier..

    • joshua (History)

      So you did! Thanks.

  9. Scott (History)


    I am sorry but the man on the far left of the image is almost leaning against the TEL which means he is no more than a foot closer to the camera than the missile itself. There is no way that one foot would alter the estimate that much. That would only change his perspective height by inches not feet. Also even if this man is 2 meters in height that still means the missile is only 10 meters in height well over a meter shorter than you assumed height.

    Also, the images I posted of this missile and the Scud on their respective Erectors clearly show the Qiam-1 is shorter.

    • George William Herbert (History)

      It looks to me like the Qiam TEL is longer – count the reinforcing crossbars (horizontal) on the erector arm, there are 9 including the end ones on the Scud TEL, 11 on Qiam TEL.

      Also, which model Scud is that? It appears to be a Scud-B. See:

      Which is a US purchased US Army owned Scud-B TEL + missile.

      The Qiam being longer would correspond more with a Scud-D class length missile (15 m). The proportion of the arm size to the missile diameter seems the same for the Qiam, and it seems to be the same erector arm design, just longer.

    • Jochen Schischka (History)

      He’s almost leaning to the FRAME of the MEL (look at the shadows on the ground!) – and since the MEL will be ~3m broad (commercial semitrailer!), he’s standing ~1.5m (aka more than four, almost five times farther away than you assume!) closer to the camera than the missile itself (which is positioned exactly in the center line of that MEL).
      Thus if the guy is ~10% larger than would be realistic, this would put the camera ~15m away from the missile (simple mathematics!), and about half that if the guy is ~1.8m tall (aka 20% larger than would be expected) instead of 2.0m.

      Nonetheless, a much better yardstick are the felloes of that MEL. Please note that they are HIGHER than BROAD (this implies that the picture is slightly distorted!). Typically, commercial trucks use 21″ felloes. As i already mentioned, these felloes will be ~1.5m closer to the camera than the missile itself. If i assume that the missile is 880mm in diameter and the felloe 533.4mm, then this would place the camera ~8m away.

      Please consider if this can be correct.

      Last but not least, also consider what may be more realistic – the Iranians building an exact 90% subscale copy of not only a Shahab-2/Scud-C missile body, but also a Ghadr-1/Sejil “triconic” warhead AND a Scud launching table – or YOU slightly misinterpreting that photo (i can only say this over and over and over again, correcting for perspective can be a rather tricky business)!

      (BTW, i guess we’re talking about the Borna-news image n00050343-r-b-002.jpg)

    • Scott (History)


      I have studied Iranian missile developments for many years and Iran actually has a habit of doing things others find illogical or surprising.

      For example, if this is a modified Scud, why is not using a Scud’s TEL? It is likely using a semi-trailer based launcher like the Shahab-3. Why build/convert a new TEL when you could just use an older Scud TEL? Perhaps if the missile has a smaller diameter the erector of the Scud wouldnt fit so they would have to build their own, scaled down to fit (just as they scaled up the Scud’s erector for the Shahab-3).

      As to your reasoning a scaled down Scud makes little sense, here is a possibility. Iran may have decided to develop a smaller more compact Ballistic missile either for replacing old Scuds or testbed purposes. If they had an engine that was more compact and more efficient than the old Scud engine they could design a missile with the same range as a Scud or better but with a smaller missile which logically means its easier to transport and faster to fuel. Also I dont get where your 90% scale comes from. My estimate (which is actually a very common estimate by many all over the internet) is a length 9 meters and a diameter of roughly .70 meters. This would make the missile a little over 20% smaller not 10%. That is why I am largely convinced it isnt a Scud because I dont see how even a person being 1.5 meters closer to the camera can change my estimate by 2.25 meters or more. More importantly there is a man standing even closer to the missile than the man I was using for an estimate. The man is just right of the missile wearing a white hat and using the same shadows you continue to reference he appears to be roughly lined up with the front edge of the launch plate the missile is sitting on which means he would be ~.5 meter closer to the camera than the missile correct? I used a possible height of 1.8 meters just as before and I got the same result, the missile is roughly 5 times his height.

    • Jochen Schischka (History)

      D’oh! Please re-read my last comment! You are misinterpreting the distance from the man to the missile! Pore over the shadows on the ground! Use the felloes instead! And keep in mind that that felloe is ~1.5m closer to the camera than the missile! And that the picture is height-wise distorted by a factor of approximately 1.08:1!

      On the MEL issue: THIS IS IN FACT A STRONG INDICATOR THAT IT IS INDEED A MODIFIED SHAHAB-2/SCUD-C! Look at the only other published Shahab-2/Scud-C-launch from 2006 – this was most likely the same MEL! (My guess is that the Scud-C is maybe not fully compatible with a not accordingly modified 9P117M1 – thus it’s easier for the Iranians to use a home-built MEL based on a commercial semitrailer instead.)

      BTW, i have studied the iranian missile developments for many years, too – and i must say that i have NEVER stumbled over anything which was as illogical as a perfect 80-90% subscale-clone of a Shahab-2/Scud-C PLUS a perfect 80-90% subscale clone of a “triconic” RV PLUS a perfect 80-90% subscale clone of a Scud launching table would be. Surprising – yes. The Iranians are always good for a little surprise. Illogical – no (well, maybe seemingly illogical to someone without a halfways acceptable understanding of how missiles work…). Period.

      Oh, and the fact that you can read something over and over again on the internet is absolutely no certification of correctness – if that would be the case, then “UFOs” would be crewed by little Hitler-clones and operate from a secret (undetected since 1945!) underground Nazi-base at Neuschwabenland in the Antarctic…

    • Scott (History)

      I read your comment very carefully actually and used those shadows you keep refering to. The man to the right of the missile wearing the white hat shadow’s seems to be right in line with the edge of the TEL facing the camera. That makes him closer than the man I originally did my estimate from. And that fact that using the same method as before I got the exact same length should be quite telling. If it was distorted should I not get a different result?

      Also, what are these “felloes” you keep discussing? I assume you mean the tires of the truck but there is flaw in using them as a measure because they are equally close to the missile from the camera as the man in the white hat I referenced before since it appears his shadow lines up to the edge of the TEL facing the camera.

      And explain to me how buiding a smaller more compact missile that can possibly achieve the same range as the old Scud is illogical? It makes perfect sense. Sure, modifying older Scuds would be simplier but just because its simplier doesnt make it the right answer. I do agree this being a modified Scud is logical but I am not convinced.

    • Scott (History)

      Also, logically, if the back of this TEL is 3 meters as you stated earlier and hte missile has a diameter of .88 meters as you claim doesnt that mean the man I referenced and the Tires are less than 1.5 meters closer to the camera? Do our reference object need to be lined up with the missiles center or its front edge for a proper estimate? If we use the front edge of the missile for the estimate than that would mean by your estimate that the men/tires are only a little over a meter closer to the camera than the missile. And specifically since you seem to know all the math behind this, how much does one meter or 1.5m alter such an estimate? I am no expert in such things, nor do I claim to be but I am still very skeptical of this being a modified Scud though I do acknowledge your theory is logical but I need more definitive proof.

    • Jochen Schischka (History)

      “using the same method as before I got the exact same length should be quite telling” – well, you simply made the same perspective/position-related mistake. Not a surprise to get a similar result in this case…

      “seems to be right in line with the edge of the TEL facing the camera” – ‘seems’ is exactly the right word. You can’t know for sure. BTW, the guy with the white hat isn’t even fully visible – so i’m not sure how you want to get a reliable height-measurement (Yeah, i know, there ‘seem’ to be his feet visible – but can you say for sure if those are in fact his feet, or perhaps those of a third, smaller person inbetween concealed by the guy in front?). If you’re inclined to use people for measuring, use either the guy with the orange vest or, preferably, the one on the left side operating the controls of the MEL (we know for sure that that one is in fact standing IN FRONT OF the MEL, don’t we? Strangely enough, he’s not TALLER than the others, as should be expected…).

      But this brings me to another point: People are per se an unreliable reference for photo-measurements. Not only don’t we know their actual body size (which can additionally vary due to posture!), although something in the range of 1.5-2.1m seems reasonable (mark that this is a difference of +/-17%!), it’s also very difficult (i hope we agree on this!) to reliably assess their actual position in relation to the camera/ to-be-measured object.
      My tip: Use technical details with known or easily appreciable dimensions and position in relation to the camera and the to-be-measured object instead. This is exactly where the MEL’s felloes (or felly or wheel rim or whatever you prefer to call the metal part of the wheel…) comes into play (don’t use the tyre’s outer diameter: those are flexible, thus in most cases will be deformed, somewhat variable with tyre pressure and generally difficult to measure correctly because of the ‘fuzziness’ of the profile). This has one HUGE advantage: they’re always round in reality, so if you see an oval felloe, then you know that the image is distorted (and you can also obtain the factor of distortion from this). We also know for sure that the visible edge of that wheel rim will be approximately at the same distance from the camera than the MEL’s outer frame (take a look at any arbitrary semitrailer – they’ll all share that characteristic). We also know that truck felloes typically have 21″ diameter (although there are also larger or smaller ones available – we always should keep that in mind, too!). And we also know that typically, commercial semitrailers are ~3m broad (if you don’t believe me – go measure one for yourself! Yes, there are even larger ones around, but not many SMALLER ones…).

      On to the next question:
      “Do our reference object need to be lined up with the missiles center or its front edge for a proper estimate?”
      With the center of the missile of course! Otherwise, we’ll need to correct for perspective again! All fully comparable dimensions will have to be at exactly the same distance from the camera – and the front edge of the missile will be (if we accept that this is in fact a Scud-C) 440mm closer to the camera than the visible maximum diameter of the missile.

      “how much does one meter or 1.5m alter such an estimate?” – that depends on the distance of the camera; The farther away the camera, the less impact 1m will have. Since we don’t know the exact distance of the camera in the discussed picture, we’ll have to consider this deductively and ask ourselves if a distance of somewhere between 8 and 15m (roughly estimated by comparison of the measured horizontal diameter ratio missile/felloe to the assumed real dimensions, as demonstrated before) can be in a realistic range. I think it is.

      “And explain to me how buiding a smaller more compact missile that can possibly achieve the same range as the old Scud is illogical?” – Ahhh, that may take some time if done properly. Suffice to say (at least i hope so) that smaller liquid-fueled missiles will typically offer less range due to the fact that a) the propellant mass will shrink cubically, while b) the mass of the tank structure will only shrink quadratically (the wall thickness is mostly determined by the tank pressure!) with the scaling factor. It’s also a lot more difficult to scale a rocket engine up or down than you assume! Oh, and the payload will of course also shrink cubically…

      In essence, any subscale missile OR rocket engine OR reentry vehicle OR MEL would amount to a COMPLETE new-design. Don’t forget that the Iranians would also need a completely new production line for all of these subscale components. I’d assess that it’s a much more logical explanation that you’re mixing up the perspective-correction and the Iranians are only toying around with equipment already available to them.

      And if you don’t recognize a (modified) Scud-C if you see one, then i can’t help you. I have already described all ‘coincidentally’ identical aspects on the Qiam-1’s missile body and engine exhaust and that of a Shahab-2/Scud-C. They also seem to share the same MEL (known from the 2006 Shahab-2-launch) instead of the Scud-B 9P117M1-TEL, as you’ve noticed yourself.

  10. joshua (History)

    Let’s see if we can’t get the image in question to appear here.

  11. Chubak (History)

    Iran has also announced a new short-range solid fuel version of Fateh 110 which it claims is a guided missile.

    This video seems to show the guidance system at 00:21

    Any comments?

    • Jochen Schischka (History)

      1.) Yes, the Fateh-110 is a guided missile. It’s an air-vane guided variant of the (unguided/spin-stabilized) solid-fueled 610mm Zelzal-3, to be precise.

      2.) Yes, that is a demonstration of the guidance system at 00:21+. We see the inertial navigation system (looks like a rather compact, fully gimbaled gyroscopic platform to me) and the function of the moveable air-vanes (those are the small canards near the tip of the missile).

      3.) Mark that air-vanes won’t work outside of the denser layers of the atmosphere, so this type of steering is limited to a maximum height of the trajectory of 10-30km (the upper end is already highly optimistic), roughly corresponding to a maximum range of ~100-150km.

    • donnie (History)

      @ Jochen Schischka: what’s your opinion of this article?

      …and are there any visible changes to support their claim of better performance?

    • Jochen Schischka (History)


      I partially agree with that article from 2004 – there are three sets of fins (indeed a somewhat strange arrangement), two rear fixed ones plus the moveable canards in front. There are no signs of any thrust vector control visible (the latest video even allows to exclude injection-type – we get a close look at the inside of the nozzle). The Fateh-110 is rail-launched (like the Zelzal-2/-3, with which it most likely shares the 610mm solid-fueled rocket motor), at an angle of ~60° (mark that this launch-rail angle is variable within certain limits).
      But now we have reached the point where i start to find it difficult to follow the further observations/conclusions/speculations of Mr. Lorber.
      It may be true that the CG will move somewhat forward over burn-time, but according to my own (raw) estimations, i don’t get that “exceptional aerodynamic stability” he postulates. At least not in a range that that missile can’t be steered by the canards anymore (i think he neglects that the burnt-out, lighter missile also loses a lot of its moment of inertia – and that the canards still will have a considerable lever arm). It may not be ‘exceptionally’ maneuverable anymore, but that does not really matter, unless we weigh each word of the iranian media and consider their assertions literally (i think there are more than enough examples available that we shouldn’t do that – even with reports from western media). “Pinpoint accuracy”? Well, in comparison to the unguided Zelzal-2 or -3 – of course! But certainly not in the sense of ‘will hit the tip of a pin’ – or anything close to a JDAM’s ~6m CEP (mark that a JDAM reaches that level of accuracy by overlaying a GPS-based precision-signal to the basic INS-derived positioning – i see no sign of anything in addition to an INS on the Fateh-110, and the Iranians would without doubt be ill-advised to rely on a system which will with certainty be jammed in case of war). Besides, you’ll also need to know the position of the target you intend to hit with the same or an even higher amount of accuracy – not much sense in EXACTLY hitting the wrong spot…
      Back to the article. I also can’t find any evidence of the postulated explosive bolts, cable duct or any other signs of a separable rear section in any of the available photos (if anybody does have pictures clearly attesting these features, he’s highly welcome to present them to us).
      Last but not least, guidance by air-vanes only works if there is enough ram-pressure (= air density/2*speed²) available for this to generate sufficient force (cw or ca*A*ram-pressure) – and at 60km height, the average air density is less than 0.0003 kg/m³, aka less than 0.02% than at 0m height, and even less than 0.9% than at 26km height (this is typically what can be reached by similarly steered aircraft – anything higher temoprarily follows an uncontrolled ballistic trajectory and tumbles quite violently during ‘reentry’ of the denser atmospheric layers…not good for accuracy. Absolutely NOT GOOD!). 30km maximum height (aka ~100-150km, somewhat difficult to predict due to the possibility of an ‘aero-ballistic’ trajectory, as described in the article) – believable to me. 60km/150+km – makes me skeptical (maybe not completely impossible, but VERY difficult to realize and thus likely beyond the technological capabilities of the Iranians).

      The only thing attesting ‘high accuracy’ are the newest snapshots of the impact (keep in mind that this does not neccessarily have to be the launched Fateh-110…or even an impact at all!) – and the fact that a photographer was placed close to the precicted impact area does unfortunately not allow any substantiated assertions about the CEP (could be anything up to several kilometers…can’t narrow that down any further based on this fact only).

    • Scott (History)

      I rarely take what FAS or Globalsecurity for truth but I just mentioned them as examples. Could you please provide a source to the your claimed length of the Scud-B/C? I have never seen a source that didnt either say 11.164meters of 11.25 meters (and I have seen alot of sources).

      The Scud-C’s length I honestly dont know because from what I understand the Soviet Scud C and North Korea Scud C (Hwasong-6) are the not same length-wise since they were largely indepedent developments, correct?

  12. Wright (History)

    Here’s my take on the dimensions.

    Going by the Borna News Image:
    There are three persons standing to the right of the missile who are roughly the same distance away from the camera, the guy in the white baseball cap(1), the two guys to his immediate right (2 and 3) and the man wearing the orange safety vest (4)

    1, 3, and 4 are in the best positions, not being more then ~.5m closer to the camera, 2 is a bit closer, but still relatively close.

    According to wikipedia, the average height of Iranian males is 1.7 m.

    Going by this, they result in a missile height of, respectively, 8.52 m, 8.89 m, 8.74 m, and 8.39 m. With an average of 8.63 m. Of course, it will be slightly higher due to the distortion that results from the camera looking up at the top of the missile.

    For the diameter, using the same numbers, i got .69, .72, .71 and .69 m respectively, with an average of .70 m.

    • Jochen Schischka (History)

      Yep, i’m measuring pretty much the same numbers – if i a) neglect the effects of perspective (if i’d measure strictly like this, then the fire truck in the background to the right would only be a ~40cm high kid’s toy) and b) neglect that this picture is slightly distorted height-wise by a factor of ~1.08:1 (see the felloe at the left lower corner of that picture – shouldn’t that one be round, not slightly oval?).

      Please notice that according to my interpretation, the missile is SIGNIFICANTLY farther away from the camera than the persons. Consider if this can be correct. You’re welcome to do your own estimations on this issue, but please do me a favor and try to be as realistic as possible (e.g. assuming that the MEL is based on a commercial semitrailer only 1m broad is NOT realistic!).

      So let’s try to compensate for perspective first, by means of simple mathematical dilation. As i already explicated before, i think that the camera will be ~8-15m away from the missile. I also think that all of the persons will be approximately 1.5m closer to the camera than the missile (again, please check if this estimate CAN be in a realistic range – and please don’t simply NEGATE my assumption and substitute it with your own, but honestly consider if this can be anywhere near correct). Thus we’ll have to multiply these 8.39-8.89m with a factor of 1.11-1.23, which results in a real length of the missile of 9.3-10.9m (10.1m on average – my guess is that the Qiam-1 is ~10.6m in reality, which is within the given bandwidth). So by now, it’s a diameter of 0.77-0.89m (~0.82m on average).
      Next, we’ll have to additionally compensate for the height-wise stretching of that picture, so the diameter of the missile will additionally have to be multiplied by a factor of ~1.08 (or maybe a little bit less; i’ve rounded that one up for simplicity). This results in a measured diameter of 0.83-0.96m (~0.89m on average – isn’t this ASTONISHINGLY close to the Scud’s 0.88m?). Please note the rather broad bandwith of these estimations due to the uncertainties involved in the estimating/measuring/calculation process, and that i’ve most of the time multiplied rounded figures with rounded figures.

      Last but not least, let me again warn against using people as a yardstick – technical details of known or easily estimated dimension and position (like the aforementioned felloe) will offer a MUCH better reliability (and you don’t have to additionally correct for distortion – a further possible source of error – if you can measure parallel to the to-be-estimated dimension)!

    • Scott (History)

      So by your estimation the Qiam-1 is shorter than a Scud-C?

    • Jochen Schischka (History)


      Correct. I think it’s ~10.4-10.6m long (mostly because of the shorter guidance compartment; The warhead probably is somewhat shorter than the Shahab-2/Scud-C’s original, purely conical one, too).

    • Scott (History)

      Hmm…but wouldnt that make it some 2 meters shorter than the Scud-C? A difference of 16% of so in length, should it not make this missile look shorter and ‘fatter’ than a Scud instead of looking slimmer?

    • Jochen Schischka (History)

      10.944m minus ~10.5m makes the Qiam-1 ~0.45m shorter than a standard Shahab-2/Hwasong-6/9M77/SS-1d/Scud-C, not ~2m, isn’t it?

      Are you STILL mixing up the Scud-C with an iraqi Al-Hussain???

    • Scott (History)


      Actually I dont know much about the Al-Hussein, but every source I have ever seen on the Scud states the Scud-B is 11.25 meters in length and the german site we were talking about earlier states the Scud-C is over 12 meters in height! This includes FAS, GlobalSecurity, and many Russian sources including this one

    • Jochen Schischka (History)


      And this is ALL wrong and either based on a mix up of the Scud-C and the mentioned iraqi Al-Hussain (which was a stretched Scud-B with a length of ~12.24m – note that that missile HAD an intertank section; There was also the compacted Al-Hussain H3 which used a Scud-C pressure gas torus instead of the cluster of five air bottles and relocated part of the guidance system into the empty part of the conical section of the warhead: this allowed deleting most of the cylindrical section at the base of the warhead and part of the 850mm of the guidance compartment, to a new overall length of ~11.62m), or a mix-up with the nuclear variant of the Scud-B (with a length of 11164mm, not, as you can read over and over again, 11250mm!), or simply inaccurateness of western cold-war analysis (mark that those western sources often also cite a WRONG diameter of 885mm for all Scud variants – by now we know for sure from original eastern-block documents that this was nominally 880mm; The figure of 885mm probably refers to the missile at maximum operational temperature of ~50°C, NOT standard conditions).

      BTW, i’d advise on not neccessarily taking ALL of GlobalSecurity’s/FAS’s statements at face value – their data is, as far as i know, mostly based on western cold-war analysis, which does not automatically have to be totally accurate, and, even though they are quite dilligent, not completely immune from errors (see e.g. how wrong C.P. Vick drafted the new launch-tower at Musudan-Ri before 2009 and compare that to the Eunha-2 launch footage).

      Considering russian sources – many of them simply reproduce GlobalSecurity’s data unchecked!
      Note that that particular source you referred to is in fact contrasting the original data of the 8K14/R-17 with the western estimates on SS-1c/Scud-B, so this is more of a patchwork of original data and western estimates.
      Interesting enough, though, the ‘Scud-C’ isn’t longer than the ‘Scud-B’ there, either (but BOTH are longer than the ‘8K14’, which should actually be IDENTICAL with ‘Scud-B’!)…

    • Scott (History)

      I accidentally put this comment in the wrong place (which is tricky considering how many comments there are now!) So I will repost it here:

      I rarely take what FAS or Globalsecurity for truth but I just mentioned them as examples. Could you please provide a source to the your claimed length of the Scud-B/C? I have never seen a source that didnt either say 11.164meters of 11.25 meters (and I have seen alot of sources).

      The Scud-C’s length I honestly dont know because from what I understand the Soviet Scud C and North Korea Scud C (Hwasong-6) are the not same length-wise since they were largely indepedent developments, correct?

    • Jochen Schischka (History)

      “Could you please provide a source to the your claimed length of the Scud-B/C?”

      No problem. I base my statements on the ‘Dienstvorschrift 11/22’ of the former east-german army, a user’s manual on the 8K14/R-17/SS-1c/Scud-B. You can also get the essential data from this source:

      For a russian source citing identical data (other than – note that the ‘8K14’-column also quotes the correct data), see for example:

      And please keep in mind that the 11164mm-figure refers to the missile with nuclear warhead – the conventional warhead 8F44 is 220mm shorter (mostly for CoG-reasons) and 2kg lighter.

      “and I have seen alot of sources”

      Me, too. Unfortunately, most of them simply reproduce the same old unreliable, inaccurate **** (add an optional four-letter-word of your liking)!

      “from what I understand the Soviet Scud C and North Korea Scud C (Hwasong-6) are the not same length-wise since they were largely indepedent developments, correct?”

      INCORRECT! Why do you think ‘completely different developments’ would use EXACTLY the same NATO reporting name (note well, by NATO-sources! It’s another story with the syrian/north korean ‘Scud-D’/ER-Scud, but neither Israel nor South Korea nor Japan are NATO-members…)?
      Again, don’t believe everything you can read on the internet (or in the respective literature) – most of this is based on rumors, data-mixup, misunderstandings and false conclusion.

      In fact, the only difference between the soviet and the north korean Scud-C is that the north korean ‘version’ doesn’t use a (thermo)nuclear warhead, but a ~770kg conventional HE-one (and if stories about wartime-use of Scud-C in Afghanistan are true, then even this is no north-korean development). Most likely (lack of credible independent testing!), the North Koreans simply BOUGHT those missiles from the Soviets/Russians.

      But admittedly, (reliable!) open-source information on ‘Hwasong-6’ is rather scanty. First of all, keep in mind that the Soviets designed the Scud-C as a missile dimension-wise fully compatible with the launch-equipment of the Scud-B (perhaps as some sort of secret ‘ace-in-the-hat’ – mark that this does not exclude the 9P117-TEL as launching vehicle, although the Iranians seem to prefer their home-grown semitrailer-MEL for that type).
      Next, there’s a sketch of a ‘Hwasong-6’ available from the Kuwolsan-incident (where we can get the 10944mm figure from). Examples of the related pressure-gas torus and 1.5mm steel sheet metal were seized at that ship back in 1999, too.
      And of course, the North Koreans also exported that missile type to Syria, Libya (those missiles ended up in the american secret service community – which means we won’t see any data revealed on this for at least another 70 years or so…), and Iran (which publicized photos of a ‘Shahab-2’ aka Scud-C on 23. May 2006 – but this fact seems to have remained widely unnoticed in the international ‘missile analyst’ community – much to my personal incomprehension).

      Mark that this missile-type apparently performs flawlessly in all these customer-countries – without any credible amount of development- or even production-related test-launches in North Korea!
      Since i, in the light of what can be seen of that country e.g. on GoogleEarth, refuse to believe in DPRK-wonderland (outperforming even the most sophisticated industrial nations blindfold), the only logical explanation i can think of is that those missiles were developed, built and accordingly flight-tested somewhere else. Draw your own conclusions.

    • Scott (History)

      Thanks for the clarifications and information sir.

      I have actually seen what is claimed to be a Shahab-2 (Scud-C)on a standard MAZ-543 TEL but I cant sure (since I cant read the sign infront of it since its in farsi). There is also an image out there showing a model of a Scud with two posters behind it detailing the Shahab-1 and Shahab-2 but they are too small to be able to read anything other than their names. Here is the reported showing a Shahab-2 on a MAZ-543 TEL:

    • Jochen Schischka (History)


      That photo shows a Scud-B. Note the (365mm long) cylindrical section at the base of the warhead, which you won’t find on a Scud-C (the guidance compartment with the characteristical four hatches is further ahead on that type and the cable duct is accordingly longer, too). Finding pictures of a Scud-B incorrectly marked as Scud-C is nothing uncommon, either. Obviously, almost nobody seems to know how to correctly identify that type. I hope this thread helps to abolish this deficit once and for all.

      Unfortunately, i find deciphering Farsi particularly difficult, too, so i can’t help with the sign. My guess is that this shows some sort of patriotic slogan. Maybe somebody with more skill in that language can help out?

  13. Scott (History)


    Here is one of the images that reinforces my skeptism. This image is of a vietnamese Scud-B with men standing in front of the TEL including on man who looks to be close to the TEL. Notice how much larger the missile’s diameter looks compared to the image of the Qiam-1 in terms of comparision to the men. Now, Vietnamese men are on average smaller than the average Iranian but I wouldnt think it could be enough to change the comparative diameter. I have a better image of a German Scud-B but I cant find the original link to be able to post it here. In these images the Scud (and yes I am accounting for the fins being gone) seems noticably larger in diameter than in the image of the Qiam-1 in comparision to the people standing in front of it.

    As to the logic..Iran wouldnt necessarily have to scale down the Scud engine if they already have an engine in mind (perhaps the R-27/BM-25’s main engine). This engine uses UDMH as the primary fuel but I dont know how different UDMH/Nitric Acid exhaust fumes are from TM-185/Nitric Acid look in appearance. We are fairly certain Iran has used UDMH for their Safir SLV so its possible they may try using it in a smaller missile because of this better efficiency.

    However, I agree your conclusion is more logical but I still dont understand how a person standing 1.5 meters closer to the camera than the missile can alter an estimate by 3+ meters. More importantly, why are you so sure its a Scud-C? The only real difference between the Scud-B (soviet) an the Scud-C (north korean) are the length correct? Otherwise the two missiles are very similar. I have through all these comments and I dont see where you pointed what features on this missile make it a Scud-C, could you please elaborate?

    • Jochen Schischka (History)

      Can’t say anything about the pictures you mention – somehow, they don’t show up on this thread. But pictures of Scud-B and -C i’m using are well in agreement with the Qiam-1/starting table having the same dimensions; I think it’s simply a matter of correctly understanding what we REALLY see in these pictures (aka how much closer to the missile the people are actually standing).

      I can definitely exclude the use of UDMH in case of the Qiam-1. The rocket flame is too opaque and brightly yellow in color for that propellant. In fact, it looks EXACTLY like a 9D21’s exhaust (note the brown smoke surrounding the base of the flame with yellow-orange stripes plowed into that by the jet vanes – this is an effect generated by the 9D21’s type of cooling, and of course, also the jet vanes). Admittedly, the same holds true for the Nodong-line of missiles, but those are 1.25m in diameter…

      “The only real difference between the Scud-B (soviet) an the Scud-C (north korean) are the length correct?”

      WRONG! That’s one of the incorrect rumors repeated over and over again on the internet (and the written literature) – in fact BOTH the Scud-B AND Scud-C (conventional versions – the nuclear Scud-B is somewhat longer at 11164mm due to a longer cylindrical section at the base of the warhead) are exactly 10944mm long. The difference between both missile types is that the Scud-C deletes the cylindrical section at the base of the warhead (which is also reduced to a mass of ~770kg compared to the Scud-B’s 987kg) and replaces the intertank section with a common bulkhead (economizing in net mass by omitting one of the tank-enddomes). This enables the addition of ~560kg propellant. Five of the six pressure gas bottles in the engine compartment also get replaced by a toroidal tank on top of the guidance section, to accomodate this larger amount of propellant and additionally for center-of-mass reasons. The thickness of the tank-walls is also reduced from 2mm to 1.5mm (i’m not sure if this is a more sophisticated steel alloy or if the Scud-B simply was overdimensioned – at the moment i’m leaning more into the direction of the latter, since it would correspond well with 2mm walls made from the Scud-B’s alloy in case of the Nodong-A), for a further reduction in net mass. All this adds up to an improvement of the mass ratio and thus an increase in range to ~500km.

      And guess what? The Qiam-1 doesn’t have a Scud-B-like intertank section, but a common bulkhead – exactly at the same position as on a Scud-C. And the engine compartment has a rather similar l/d (aka 1884mm/880mm).

    • Scott (History)

      Thank you for the clarification on the difference between the Scud B and C models. I agree his site if full of great images but the conclusions are a bit sketchy at times(Such as stating the Saudis imported the DF-2 instead of the DF-3). But last time I looked at his site he also believes the Qiam-1 is a Scud-C variant. Though of course referring to this missile as the Scud C isnt accurately since technically the Soviets never produced a Scud-C did they? Just out of curiosity do you believe the Scud’s engine could opreate with UDMH as its primary fuel with some minor modifications? I brought up UDMH initially because of the idea of a new missile using the BM-25’s main engine which uses UDMH. This engine would likely fit in a Scud but I agree the exhaust the Qiam-1 looks very much like the Scuds.

      Also, do you believe this is meant to be an upgrade or a new production missile? I would think this would be a relatively expensive upgrade to carry out to Iran’s Shahab-2s.

    • Jochen Schischka (History)

      “Though of course referring to this missile as the Scud C isnt accurately since technically the Soviets never produced a Scud-C did they?”

      As far as i know, the 9M77/SS-1d/Scud-C was first sighted at the Kapustin Yar testing range in 1965 (back then under the preliminary designation “KY-3”), and i’ve read accounts that that type of missile has also been wartime-used in Afghanistan during the 80ies (although i’m not sure to what extent these latter allegations are credible). It’s somewhat unclear if that Scud-variant ever was accepted by the red army – at least not officially. So it most likely was never produced in large numbers (like the Scud-B’s ~10000 pieces), but must have been at a minimum in small-scale pilot-run production (my and other ‘missilogist’s’ guess is that this probably accounts for the comparably small numbers of Scud-C’s in North Korea, Iran and Syria – although all of these countries claim to indigenously produce that type, which may be an exaggeration or misrepresentation of re-assembling missiles disassembled for transport). The existence of a DoD-Designator (‘SS-1d’) AND a NATO reporting name (‘Scud-C’) for that particular missile type back from the days of the Soviet Union/cold war alone speaks volumes.
      BTW, the Scud-C apparently should have been an upgraded missile with identical dimensions for the Elbrus-system (with the MAZ-543-based 9P117 as TEL), which itself was already an upgrade of the Scud-B on the tracked 2P19-TEL, which itself alread had been upgraded with the longer-ranged Scud-B from the 170km-reaching Scud-A (and that one originally had a lighter conventional warhead and ~270km range, which quickly was supplanted by a nuclear warhead as a compensation for the excessive inaccuracy, even at the reduced range).

      “Just out of curiosity do you believe the Scud’s engine could opreate with UDMH as its primary fuel with some minor modifications?”

      The Iraqis tried exactly that (to be precise, ‘AZ-11′ is more of a Tonka-mixture with only a 11% UDMH-share – still completely different than TM-185-kerosene) back before GW2 – with, eeeehhh…’mixed results’ (didn’t get that to work). They also documentedly toyed around with supplanting TG-02 with AZ-11 on the Isayev S2.720 engine (from the SA-2C and following variants) of the Al-Samoud II before GW3 – again without this leading anywhere (and i think this Scud-C-UDMH-mixup, as well as the ‘longer -C’-legend can be traced back to those iraqi experiments).
      The main problem with this is that the injectors in the thrust chamber head (and the impellers in the turbopump) are optimized for a certain volumetric and mass mixture ratio of both propellants; If you supplant one or both of the propellants with another one of a different density and stoichiometrically optimal mixture ratio, then you won’t gain anything, but will even lose performance. If this shall result in anything expedient, then you’ll have to design a completely new, accordingly adjusted chamber head plus a new turbopump, and while you’re at it, you can also change the volume ratio of the missile’s propellant tanks accordingly. A lot of work for at best not much of a gain.
      Additionally you’ll also upset the thermal balance of the thrust chamber and the gas-generator/turbine (different propellant combinations burn at different temperatures, the coolant will have different thermal properties etc.) with potentially catastrophic results. So, all in all maybe more or less ‘possible’, but not advisable (just like fueling a diesel engine with gasoline). Rather design a new engine from the start (or, preferably, choose an available one from your favorite black-market dealer’s list – that’s how the Iranians most likely got the upper-stage engine of the Safir).

      And one thing is certain: This will in any case change the appearance of the rocket flame (something we definitely don’t see not only on the Qiam-1, but also the Nodong-A or Ghadr-1 – or the Safir’s lower stage). Compare e.g. a Scud-B’s, the Qiam’s or a Nodong’s exhaust with that of an R-36M, DF-5 or a Titan II (without doubt, you’ll find according pictures at the in this respect excellent Brügge-homepage) – notice the significant difference.

  14. Scott (History)
    • Jochen Schischka (History)

      1.) Please don’t blindly rely on Mr. Brügge to correctly identify all missile types. He’s quite good at this, but unfortunately, he’s not immune from errors.

      2.) Please don’t blindly believe everything Mr. Brügge writes – e.g. the Scud-C’s 9D21 does NOT burn UDMH (again, one of these literature rumors about the Scud-C that possibly can be traced back to a mix up of iraqi Scud-experiments and the soviet Scud-C). In particular, i’d advise on taking Mr. Brügge’s estimations/reconstructions with a not too small grain of salt. His Qiam-1/Scud-B-comparison for example completely neglects the height-wise distortion of the picture (see the oval felloe), so he gets identical height for both missiles (i think the Qiam-1 is slightly shorter at ~10.6m).

      Nonetheless the Brügge-homepage is an excellent source of pictures – in my eyes it’s a brilliant example what an ambitious layman can achieve, in a positive sense. If only he’d be a little bit more cautious with his estimations/reconstructions/speculations…

  15. Scott (History)

    On an unrelated note, I have a question for everyone. I have posted it on another post last night but it is still awaiting moderation..

    My question is, could there be a possible connection between the Shahab-3B/Ghadr-1 Re-Entry Vehicle design and the REV design used in the chinese DF-15C? They are very similar in shape and they are both believed to be separating warhead designs, and they appeared around the same time. I havent seen any sources stating with any certainty what kind of guidance the C model uses other than its supposed to be fairly accurate. Sinodefence states that the design is intended for penetration attacks against hardened targets. This seems quite logical when looking at the shape of the warhead. Thoughts?

    • Jochen Schischka (History)

      “They are very similar in shape” – actually, the ‘triconic’ RV is more similar in shape to the R-27A’s RV (see:, or even the Minuteman’s Mk.11 (see:, than the DF-15C’s warhead (without doubt separated AND post-boosted). This conus-cylinder-conus geometry is nonetheless typical of ~2.generation (most of the time non-post-boosted) separable (nuclear) warheads.

      I have some ideas about the DF-15C-RV, too, but those are not really ripe for discussion, yet (e.g. do we know if this is the final shape of the warhead, or is this perhaps only a development-related inbetween-step?).

    • George William Herbert (History)

      These types of reentry vehicles are typical for pre-two-point-implosion system nuclear weapons, be they simple fission bombs or themonuclear weapons.

      Some of Geoff Forden’s much older posts on warhead CG apply; if you assume the Iranians have a spherical multipoint weapon design of approximately sixty-mumble centimeters, that fits in the warhead and within CG concerns. That sized warhead can fit in a Scud style simple cone – but the CG is too far aft, either you end up ballasting the nose a lot to keep it stable nose-down, or you do something like these triconics where the center section is big enough for the warhead.

    • Jochen Schischka (History)

      George William Herbert:

      I can only agree with you, absolutely correct.

      On an aside note, this CG issue also is the main reason for the nuclear variant of the Scud-B being 220mm longer than the conventional one (they simply added an additional cylindrical intersection at the base of the nuclear warhead), although that was non-separable (apparently, the Soviets didn’t trust the Scud’s Horizont/Vertikant-guidance to be able to deal with a slightly different overall CoG).

  16. Doug Richardson (History)

    To try to get some idea of the distance that the camera had been from the Qiam missile when the photograph we are discussing was taken, yesterday (Saturday) I tried the simple experiment of photographing a 9 m long missile that had been vertically mounted on a platform 1 m in height.

    Using a lens of 35mm focal length on a 35mm camera, I could easily capture an image of the entire missile and platform from a distance of 25m without tilting the camera. With a 28mm lens, I could move as close as 12m.

    I deliberately took the first photograph while someone was standing close to the missile and about 1-2m behind. Working on the assumption that the person in question was 5ft 8in tall, I used him as a ‘yardstick’ to measure the height and diameter of the missile, and obtained estimates that were within a few per cent of the real-world value.

    At first, this would seem to support those who argue that the Qiam is about 9m long and 0.7m in diameter, but this is not the case.

    Jochen Schischka thinks that the Qiam photograph has been ‘stretched’ and cites the distorted shape of the platform wheels. However, looking at the most leftward wheel, the axis on which it is elongated does not coincide with the vertical axis of the photograph, but runs from about the 8 o’clock position to the 2 o’clock position.

    This is a form of distortion well-known to photographers who use lenses of 21mm or shorter focal length on a 35mm camera. What we are seeing here is not a deliberate stretching of the image in a single plane, but the effects of using an extreme wide-angle lens – essentially a radial stretching of the image of objects close to the edge of the picture. Since this effect takes place in all directions and has a magnitude that increases with distance from the optical axis of the lens, it will be hard to allow for in calculations.

    As reproduced, the photo has obviously been cropped. The angular coverage of any lens (except for specialised optics offering perspective control) extends in all directions from the centre of the field. In the Qiam photo the camera seems to be at normal eye level. Had the camera been level, the coverage of the original image would have extended as far below the level of the MEL flatbed as it extends above it. The original image would also have been much wider than the published version.

    Although we do not know the amount by which the image was cropped, it seems reasonable to assume that it was taken using a lens of around 21mm focal length and from a distance of less than 12m. If this was the case, it would support Schischka’s hypothesis that the photograph was taken at a short distance that would make it hard to use the human figures for scaling.

    Since a line drawn along the axis of the distortion seen in the outermost platform wheel crosses the missile centreline around the top of the engine bay, this may indicate that the photographer tilted the camera slightly upwards, and that the resulting optical ‘keystoning’ was corrected by image-processing software. This introduces a second factor that will make it hard to deduce the missile’s size by simple scaling.

    • Jochen Schischka (History)

      Excellent comment, this clarifies some points!

      Mark that i’m not a professional photographer myself and pretty much an autodidact on photo-measurements – still i think my raw estimations may explain that image a lot better than the weird (at least in my eyes…) hypotheses of some others.

      Another effect we haven’t discussed yet is that the tip of that missile will of course also be farther away from the camera in that particular picture (~3-5m according to a quick approximation – we can also measure a distinctly smaller diameter near the tip than near the tail), so we’ll probably have to take this into account, too.

  17. Matt (History)

    I am surely no missile expert in comparison to the posters here – not a chance – but I think that it is very safe to assume that the aluminum ladder is a seven footer. I worked at a Home Depot when I got out of High School – so I consider myself an expert in that field. Would this help with estimating the exact length of the missile? Personally I think that this would be much more accurate than trying to estimate the height of the wheels, felloes or the fellows standing next to the launcher. BTW, this is an awesome thread. Thank you everyone for another excellent crash course in ballistic missile tech!

    • Jochen Schischka (History)

      Interesting idea with the ladder (hadn’t thought of that myself)!
      As i wrote before, technical details with easily assessable position and dimensions generally offer a much better reference for photo-measurements than people in my eyes.

      Now, if i assume a length of that ladder of ~2.1m, then that missile will be approximately 10.6m long even without correction for perspective. We’ll have to keep the inclination of that ladder in mind though (it has more or less the same 2D-projected height than the guy with the white cloth around his hips), or that it may be shorter than seven feet overall (as you might have noticed, my primary area of expertise is, well, not exactly ladders…;-).

  18. no_name (History)

    @Jochen Schischka;

    I know nothing about the missile system and rocket science, so probably this question that I am about to ask is a bit off the mark, nevertheless I am curious:

    It has been said that Qiam and its lack of fins (together with the fact that it is likely an older SCUD family missiles with the fins removed) suggests that it is some sort of a “test bed” for some newly developed sub-system for a missile to be launched possibly from a cannister (and hence the removal of the fins).
    It is also known that Iran is toying with the idea of developing its own long range system, something similar to S-300. Is there any possibility that this sub-system maybe related to a long range SAM system to be launched from cannisters?

    Also I have another question, could the tests with Qiam bear any relation to the Simorgh project and the launch of Iran’s Rasad1 satellite which is to be launched before March 21st 2011?

    • George William Herbert (History)

      A long range SAM needs to have terminal maneuvering; the top and warhead of this thing are classic surface attack ballistic missile, no sign of maneuvering ability.

      The rocket motor jet vanes can steer it on the way up, but the rocket motor on a SAM typically burns out long before the missile gets to the target (for long range SAMs at least).

      Could you use this as a huge booster for a second stage which was a SAM? Possibly… It’s probably a lot bigger than you want or need for that, though.

      Could this be connected to a launch vehicle? Everything could be. Not sure if this is or not. Geoff Forden earlier this year posted this on the Simorgh:

      …which indicated that its second stage is probably 1.25 m diameter, or roughly 50% larger diameter than the Scud / Qiam. So the Qiam is probably not part of that launch vehicle, no.

    • Jochen Schischka (History)

      Well, George William Herbert beat me at answering this, and i pretty much agree with his evaluations.

      SAM? Unlikely in my eyes. Not only would that thing be too big/heavy (too much inertia to be adequately maneuverable!) and uncontrolled after burn-out, i also see no sign of any sort of seeker head. What is more, the geometry of the (separable) warhead downright cries out ‘surface-to-surface’ aloud.

      BTW, i am far from convinced that the deletion of the fins on the Qiam neccessarily points at a launch from a canister or silo. Why would the Iranians do this with a missile of only ~500km range?
      I can think of three possible reasons why somebody would put a missile in some sort of silo/canister:
      1.) To protect that missile from an opponent’s first-strike to be able to counter-strike at the aggressor with high precision (silo). A proven concept (see cold war), but unlikely for the Iranians, since the only probable aggressor inside of the Qiam’s estimated range would be Iraq – and nowadays, after the removal of Saddam, that’s no threat to the Iranians anymore. Mark that in case of a hypothetical american attack on Iran, a ‘counterattack’ against Iraq would most likely not bother the U.S. very much. The same can be said about Israel. Besides, as has been demonstrated severalfold since the times of WW2, mobility isn’t a too bad protection, either. Particularly for a missile small enough to fit into a commercial semitrailer (or rather a MEL based on and easily camouflaged as such a commercial semitrailer). And missile-bunkers weren’t unassailable against destruction even during WW2 (see the fate of the monolithic V2-bunkers at Watten und Wizernes). A hypothetic Qiam-Bunker will have to be hardened against something like a GBU-28, which is without doubt difficult to achieve.
      2.) To put that on a submarine (pressure-tight canister) – but up to now, the Iranians don’t own any submarines even only halfways suitable for this purpose. And i don’t see them drawing something like that from off their cuff anytime in the near (or even far) future.
      3.) For environmental control of a solid fueled missile (canister) – those are somewhat susceptible against temperature or humidity (but in moderate climates, you can do away with that). The Qiam, as a Scud-C derivative, is not solid-fueled nonetheless, and it’s not called ‘storable liquid propellants’ just for fun, either. Scuds can be safely stored and transported fueled with the main propellants for up to two years – without any noteworthy environmental constraints.
      The deletion of the fins offers some other advantages, though. First of all, the weight and aerodynamic drag of the fins will self-explanatorily drop out, which will increase the missile’s performance somewhat. Also, the loss of weight to the rear allows a somewhat different center of gravity for the warhead (CoG will still play a role even on a finless missile). Additionally, without the stabilizing/dampening effect of the fins, the ‘destabilized’ missile will, in essence, try to head at all directions at the same time – somewhat like a pencil balanced on its tip. Only permanent steering inputs by the jet vanes will stabilize the flight, and any change in steering will get a FAST response, with a potential for higher maneuverability and accuracy (this is a mixed blessing, though – the guidance and steering systems will have to be able to fully deal with this, too).

      The sub-system you’re associating with a canister-launched SAM would be a solid-propellant gas-generator for mortar-like ejection of the missile before in-flight ignition (‘cold-launch’). We see no sign of something like this in case of the liquid-propelled, table-launched Qiam-1 (‘hot-launch’).

      Considering the Rasad-1: My guess is that that will be launched by Safir-3, perhaps much earlier than March 2011. Let’s wait and see.

      And since i reconstruct the Simorgh to have an upper stage diameter of ~1.5m (like the second stage of the north korean Eunha-2), not a Nodong-like diameter of 1.25m (i think this is based another misjudgement of perspectively effects), i’d assess the Qiam-1 to be part of that launcher as improbable, too.