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.
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