Iran made it official that as expected it has started the early deployment in 2008 of its operational solid propellant strategic ballistic missiles. The Samen/Ghadr-101 single stage missile with a 750-800 kilometer range was quietly recently paraded in Tehran , Iran on Sunday September 21, 2008 . The deployment also includes two variants of the Ghadr-110, 110A ballistic missile intended replacement for the Shahab-3A, 3B and 3C liquid propellant ballistic missiles with a 2,000 kilometer range. However the Ghadr-110/Sejjil (baked
clay) two stage solid propellant missile flown on November 10, 2008 has a range of 2,000 to perhaps 2,500 kilometers but previously Iran has flight tested the Ghadr-110A Ashura three stage ballistic missile with a range capability of 2,500 to as much as 3,000 kilometers.
This is depending on its warhead payload mass and staging configuration. The entire development flight tests of the Ghadr-101, 110, 110A series missiles has been carried out in country with little or no announcements until they have become operational if any announcement at all. At present it is apparent that the Ghadr-110/Sejjil is being deployed in its 2,000-2,510 kilometer range version with a 650-1,000 kg triconic warhead. That tri-conic "baby bottle nose" warhead and its dimensions fits in the same logistic envelop as the Shahab-3B, 3C series lands mobile TEL's. All of these solid propellant missiles use some liquid propellant systems for stage propulsion in flight attitude steering control in place of steering gimbals mounted nozzles.
This solid propellant ballistic missile series was developed and produced under the leadership of the Air and Space Organization (aerospace) Department of the Iranian, Ministry of Defense. Ghadr-110 systems heritage clearly has a link to the Pakistani Shaheen-II class system. The full heritage goes back to not merely China ’s M-18, DF-21 that in turn came from Republic of South Africa ’s RSA-2, RSA-3 strategic boosters SLV’s which Israel also benefited from.
The flight was launched by the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) unit as an operational system in a military exercise on November 10, 2008 from the newly excavated site on the outskirts of the city of Marivan in the western province of Kurdistan which borders Iraq . It is believed that the missile was fired intentionally into the Semnan range Dasht-e Kavir ( Salt Desert ) and was therefore not launched full range.
In classical Iranian fashion as aptly demonstrated the warhead exploded after covering 180 miles (~288 km) plus terminating the flight according to US Military Intelligence sources and methods as reported by the Associated Press. These Intelligence sources further suggested that the flight lasted only 9 seconds as it was reported or more likely 90 seconds but the reviewed videos clearly shows it went well beyond 35 seconds showing no anomalies.
Whether it intentionally veered off course or was programmed to accomplish this as it was reported will require a careful review of the telemetry captured by intelligence means from the full range observation. Based on this and other similar design related heritage systems performance data suggest that the Sejjil did indeed complete its two stage burn cycles successfully before exploding the warhead at altitude if that is what it was. That South African Republic and Pakistani, Chinese heritage related information says that the two stage burn was in the 107-121 seconds total with a slant angle performance of 272 kilometers while the Iran system using a smaller diameter solid motor was 180 miles (~288 km) plus down range well beyond the two stage burn cycle of the Sejjil missile system. If nothing else the explosion could have been nothing more than the second stage burn termination blowout port popping the top of the motor plate to kill the pressure during the warhead separation.
If the motors are a little smaller in diameter as they seem to be 1.35 meters verses 1.4 meters the burns could have been a little shorter also. If it was an explosion it was after the end of the second stage burn if at all. By firing the missile the way it was apparently flown with an already proven warhead design flown over a
range of 2,000 miles or 3,218 kilometers (3,000 kilometers) when it is capable of flying (2,485 miles) or 4,000 kilometers strongly suggest it was not intended to be a full range demonstration. All of these solid propellant missiles are believed to have been flight test demonstrated in the past in country with no fan
All of the pre-unannounced launches were apparently covered by U. S. , DSP satellite sensors and other technical means. Not all of the in country flights were successful which is to be expected. One example of this is the previous Ashura-110A experimental flight which is known to have been a partial failure but subsequent flights performed better. That means as Iran said Iran was successful with the launch. That was a very serious demonstration of a new operational strategic system that is a much more serious threat to the region under its range performance.