Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat

From the Defense Intelligence Ballistic Missile Analysis Committee.

National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) in collaboration
with the Defense Intelligence Ballistic Missile Analysis Committee (DIBMAC).

Many countries view ballistic and cruise missile systems as cost-effective weapons and symbols of national power. These weapons present an asymmetric threat to US forces. Many ballistic and cruise missiles are armed with weapons of mass destruction. However, numerous types of ballistic and cruise missiles have achieved dramatic improvements in accuracy that allow them to be used effectively with conventional warheads. These highly accurate weapons can be used in anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) missions. The term A2/AD refers to capabilities designed to deter or counter adversary forces from deploying to or operating within a defined space.

North Korea has been developing the road-mobile Hwasong-13 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) for several years and in October 2015 unveiled the Hwasong-14, a new road-mobile ICBM. The Taepo Dong-2 (TD-2), which placed a satellite in orbit for the first time in December 2012, placed a second satellite in orbit in February 2016. Flight testing of the Hwasong-10 (Musudan) intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) began in April 2016 with multiple failures. Several new solid-propellant missiles including a short-range ballistic missile (SRBM), a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) and a medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) are also being developed. In April 2017, North Korea also commenced flight testing of a new liquid-propellant IRBM, the Hwasong-12.

Tehran’s desire to have a strategic counter to the United States could drive it to field an ICBM. Progress in Iran’s space program could shorten a pathway to an ICBM because space launch vehicles (SLV) use inherently similar technologies. Since 2008, Iran has conducted multiple successful launches of the two-stage Safir SLV and has also revealed the larger two-stage Simorgh SLV, which could serve as a test bed for developing ICBM technologies. Iran has developed the Qiam-1 SRBM, the fourth-generation Fateh-110 SRBM, and claims to be mass-producing ballistic missiles capable of striking ships. Iran has modified its Shahab 3 MRBM to extend its range and effectiveness and also claims to have deployed the two-stage, solid-propellant Sejjil MRBM. In 2015, Iran publicized the launch of the Emad-1, which officials claim is Iran’s first long-range missile that is guided throughout flight and capable of hitting its targets with high-precision. Iranian officials have also announced plans for an Emad-2 with greater precision as well as a new Sejjil which can also be guided all the way to the target.

Click here for full pdf document

About the author

National Air and Space Intelligence Center