The Scud B, also known as the SS-1c, was first deployed by the Soviet Union in 1962 and was operational in other European and Middle Eastern countries by 1965. [1] The system was originally replaced in Russian forces by the SS-23, which carried a greater range, accuracy, and reduced reaction and refire times. [2] As a result of the INF Treaty, Moscow was forced to return to the Scud in the late 1980’s, but by the late 1990’s, Russia developed the SS-26 Iskander to replace the now obsolete Scud. [3] The Scud missile carries the capability to deliver 5-80 kiloton nuclear warheads, chemical agents, as well as conventional high explosives [4] The missile has a range of 300 km.

Strategic Implications

While the Scud B is no longer deployed by the Russian Federation, the proliferation of the missile makes it one of the most widely deployed ballistic missiles to this day. It was the missile used by Egypt in 1973 to launch attacks against Israel, as well as being used by both sides of the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980’s and later used by Iraq again in the 1991 Gulf War. [5] Over 30 countries have deployed the Scud, in either the original or modified versions, because of its simplicity, reliability, and low cost. [6] Recently, the Assad regime has reportedly used Scud missiles against rebel forces in Syria in its attempt to hold on to power. [7]

The mobility of Scud forces presents a significant challenge for systems that attempt to counter them. The 1991 Gulf War illustrated the challenges in finding and destroying Scud missiles on mobile launchers. The Iraqi military took great care to employ countermeasures to frustrate air reconnaissance efforts, and cut preparation and launch times to under 30 minutes. [8] The difficulties associated with hunting Scud forces suggest the strong necessity of being able to mount a multi-layered defense against attacks, especially considering the ramifications of potential WMD mating to these missiles.


[1] Osokin, Yury. July 14, 2014. Russia Beyond the Headlines. “The Scud: A missile destined for universal cloning.”

[2] Federation of American Scientists “R-11 / SS-1B SCUD-A R-300 9K72 Elbrus / SS-1C SCUD-B” Updated Saturday, September 09, 2000. Accessed 2-2-2015

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[5] Osokin, Cited Above

[6] Ibid

[7] Gordon, Michael R. and Schmitt, Eric. December 20, 2012. New York Times. “Syria Fires More Scud Missiles at Rebels, U.S. Says.”

[8] Rosenau, William. 2001. RAND Monograph.“Special Operations Forces and Elusive Enemy Ground Targets:Lessons from Vietnam and the Persian Gulf War.” Chapter 3.

Missile Threat and Proliferation


International Cooperation