R-17 Elbrus

Last updated
R-17 Elbrus
Rakieta wz8K-14 SCUD RB.jpg
An R-17 missile at the Muzeum Uzbrojenia (Museum of Armament), Poznań, Poland (2004)
Type Short-range ballistic missile
Place of origin USSR
Service history
In service1964–present
Wars Iran–Iraq War, Yom Kippur War, [1] Soviet–Afghan War, Libyan Civil War, Gulf War, 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
Production history
Designer Viktor Makeyev
Mass5,800 kg (12,800 lb)
Length11.2 m (37 ft)
Diameter0.88 m (2.9 ft)


The R-17 Elbrus, [2] GRAU index 9K72 is a tactical ballistic missile, initially developed by the Soviet Union. It is also known by its NATO reporting name SS-1C Scud-B. It is one of several Soviet missiles to carry the reporting name Scud; the most prolifically launched of the series, with a production run estimated at 7,000 (1960–1987). Also designated R-300 during the 1970s, the R-17 was derived from the R-11 Zemlya. It has been operated by 32 countries and manufactured in four countries outside the Soviet Union. It is still in service with some. It's been called the Hwasong-5 in North Korea. [3]



The first mock-up was designed and built by Makeyev in 1958–1959, before the programme was transferred to the Votkinsk Machine Building Plant in 1959 for mass production. The first launch was conducted in 1961, and it entered service in 1964. [4]

The rear section of an 8K14 missile, showing the fixed fins and the graphite vanes that control the missile's path. Wz8K14 RB3.jpg
The rear section of an 8K14 missile, showing the fixed fins and the graphite vanes that control the missile's path.
R-17 on reload transport trailer with ZIL-131 tractor 2TZM-5306.JPG
R-17 on reload transport trailer with ZIL-131 tractor


The R-17 featured important improvements over the R-11. The Isayev RD-21 engine used a combination of inhibited red fuming nitric acid (IRFNA) oxidiser and unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH) fuel, fed into the combustion chamber by fuel pumps that ensured a more consistent thrust. The guidance system, active only during the boosted phase, uses three gyroscopes, that give it a Circular error probable (CEP) of 450 m [5] (900 m according to western sources. [6] ) A nuclear warhead was designed for the R-17, with a selectable yield, from 5 to 70 kilotons. However it could also carry a chemical warhead, containing 555 kg of viscous VX; a conventional weapon, with a single high explosive warhead; or a series of fragmentation payloads, using either high explosive, anti-tank or anti-runway munitions. [5]

MAZ-543 Uragan carrying SS-1s Scud B (9K72 Elbrus) SS-1C Scud B missiles on TEL.JPEG
MAZ-543 Uragan carrying SS-1с Scud B (9K72 Elbrus)

At first, the R-17 was carried on a tracked TEL similar to that of the R-11, designated 2P19, but this was not very successful, as the vibration of the tracks had a tendency to interfere with the launch electronics. Production of this model was halted after Khrushchev cancelled the production of heavy tanks in 1962, and a wheeled launcher was designed by the Titan Central Design Bureau, becoming operational in 1967. [7] The new MAZ-543 vehicle was officially designated 9P117 Uragan, and its Russian crews nicknamed it Kashalot (sperm whale), because of its size. [8] The eight-wheeled MAZ-543 has a loaded weight of 37,400 kg, a road speed of 55 km/h and a range of 650 km. It can carry out the launch sequence autonomously, but this is usually directed from a separate command vehicle. The missile is raised to a vertical position by means of hydraulically powered cranes, which usually takes four minutes, while the total sequence lasts about one hour. [5]


The units of the R-17 theater ballistic missile were organized with the following vehicles:

Combat use

Libya – It has been rumoured that Scud-Bs were fired by Gaddafi forces against rebels in the 2011 Libyan civil war during the first phase of the war. [9] On 14 August 2011 a confirmed Scud-B launch was detected by a US Aegis destroyer, with the missile fired from Sirte and heading toward rebel positions in Ajdabiya. The missile fell 80 km off target in the middle of the desert, inflicting no damage. [10] Eight days later, on August 22, three more Scud-B launches were detected by NATO. [11]


See also

Related Research Articles

Intercontinental ballistic missile Ballistic missile with a range of more than 5,500 kilometres

An intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is a missile with a minimum range of 5,500 kilometres (3,400 mi) primarily designed for nuclear weapons delivery. Similarly, conventional, chemical, and biological weapons can also be delivered with varying effectiveness, but have never been deployed on ICBMs. Most modern designs support multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs), allowing a single missile to carry several warheads, each of which can strike a different target. Russia, United States, China, France, India, United Kingdom, and North Korea are the only countries that have operational ICBMs.

R-13 (missile)

The R-13 was a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) developed by the Soviet Union starting around 1955. It was assigned the NATO reporting name SS-N-4 Sark and carried the GRAU index 4K50.

R-36 (missile) Type of intercontinental ballistic missile designed by the Soviet Union

The R-36 is a family of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and space launch vehicles (Tsyklon) designed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The original R-36 was deployed under the GRAU index 8K67 and was given the NATO reporting name SS-9 Scarp. It was able to carry three warheads and was the first Soviet MRV(multiple reentry vehicle) missile. The later version, the R-36M was produced under the GRAU designations 15A14 and 15A18 and was given the NATO reporting name SS-18 Satan. This missile was viewed by certain United States analysts as giving the Soviet Union first strike advantage over the U.S., particularly because of its rapid silo-reload ability, very heavy throw weight and extremely large number of re-entry vehicles. Some versions of the R-36M were deployed with 10 warheads and up to 40 penetration aids and the missile's high throw-weight made it theoretically capable of carrying more warheads or penetration aids. Contemporary U.S. missiles, such as the Minuteman III, carried up to three warheads at most.

RT-23 Molodets ICBM

The RT-23 Molodets was a cold-launched, three-stage, solid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missile developed and produced before 1991 by the Yuzhnoye Design Bureau in Dnipro, Ukraine. It came in silo- and rail-based variants, and was armed with 10 MIRV warheads of 550 kt yield. All missiles were decommissioned by 2005 in accordance with the START II.

Buk missile system Russian surface-to-air missile system

The Buk missile system is a family of self-propelled, medium-range surface-to-air missile systems developed by the Soviet Union and its successor state, the Russian Federation, and designed to counter cruise missiles, smart bombs, fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles.

R-27 Zyb

The R-27 Zyb was a submarine-launched ballistic missile developed by the Soviet Union and employed by the Soviet Navy from 1968 through 1988. NATO assigned the missile the reporting name SS-N-6 Serb. In the USSR, it was given the GRAU index 4K10. It was a liquid fuel rocket using a hypergolic combination of unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH) as fuel, and nitrogen tetroxide (NTO) as oxidizer. Between 1974 and 1990, 161 missile launches were conducted, with an average success rate of 93%. Total production was 1800 missiles.

OTR-23 Oka Theatre ballistic missileShort-range ballistic missile

The OTR-23 Oka was a mobile theatre ballistic missile deployed by the Soviet Union near the end of the Cold War to replace the obsolete SS-1C 'Scud B'. It carried the GRAU index 9K714 and was assigned the NATO reporting name SS-23 Spider. The introduction of the Oka significantly strengthened Soviet theatre nuclear capabilities as its range and accuracy allowed it not only to strike hardened NATO targets such as airfields, nuclear delivery systems, and command centers, but moving targets as well. It also had a fast reaction time, being able to fire in approximately five minutes, and was nearly impossible to intercept, thereby allowing it to penetrate defenses.

OTR-21 Tochka Tactical ballistic missile

OTR-21 Tochka is a Soviet tactical ballistic missile. Its GRAU designation is 9K79; its NATO reporting name is SS-21 Scarab. It is transported in a 9P129 vehicle and raised prior to launch. It uses an inertial guidance system.

9K720 Iskander Short-range ballistic missile

The 9K720 Iskander is a mobile short-range ballistic missile system produced and deployed by the Russian military. The missile systems (Искандер-М) are to replace the obsolete OTR-21 Tochka systems, still in use by the Russian armed forces, by 2020. The Iskander has several different conventional warheads, including a cluster munitions warhead, a fuel-air explosive enhanced-blast warhead, a high explosive-fragmentation warhead, an earth penetrator for bunker busting and an electromagnetic pulse device for anti-radar missions. The missile can also carry nuclear warheads. In September 2017, the KB Mashinostroyeniya (KBM) general designer Valery M. Kashin said that there were at least seven types of missiles for Iskander, including one cruise missile.

Korean Peoples Army Strategic Rocket Force Branch of North Koreas army which operates ballistic and nuclear missiles

The Korean People's Army Strategic Rocket Force, also known as Missile Guidance Bureau is a military branch of the Korean People's Army that oversees North Korea's nuclear and conventional strategic missiles. It is mainly armed with surface-to-surface missiles of domestic design as well as older Soviet and Chinese models. The KPA-SRF was established in 1999 when several missile units under KPA Ground Force Artillery Command were re-organized into a single missile force reporting directly to the office of the Supreme Commander of the KPA via the General Staff.

R-11 Zemlya

The R-11 Zemlya, GRAU index 8A61 was a Soviet tactical ballistic missile. It is also known by its NATO reporting name SS-1b Scud-A. It was the first of several similar Soviet missiles to be given the reporting name Scud. Variant R-11M was accepted into service, with GRAU index 9K51.

The Hwasong-5 is a North Korean tactical ballistic missile derived from the Soviet R-17 Elbrus missile. It is one of several missiles with the NATO reporting name Scud.

The Hwasong-6 is a North Korean tactical ballistic missile. It is derived from the Hwasong-5, itself a derivative of the Soviet R-17 Elbrus. It carries the NATO reporting name Scud.

The Hwasong-10, also known by the names BM-25 and Musudan, is a mobile intermediate-range ballistic missile developed by North Korea. Hwasong-10 was first revealed to the international community in a military parade on 10 October 2010 celebrating the Korean Worker's Party's 65th anniversary, although experts believe these were mock-ups of the missile. Hwasong-10 resembles the shape of the Soviet Union's R-27 Zyb submarine-launched missile, but is slightly longer. It is based on the R-27, which uses a 4D10 engine propelled by unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH) and nitrogen tetroxide (NTO). These propellants are much more advanced than the kerosene compounds used in North Korea's Scuds and Nodong missiles.

Scud missile Tactical ballistic missile

A Scud missile is one of a series of tactical ballistic missiles developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. It was exported widely to both Second and Third World countries. The term comes from the NATO reporting name attached to the missile by Western intelligence agencies. The Russian names for the missile are the R-11, and the R-17Elbrus. The name Scud has been widely used to refer to these missiles and the wide variety of derivative variants developed in other countries based on the Soviet design.

This is a comparison list of intercontinental ballistic missiles developed by various countries.

Pukkuksong-2 also known as KN-15 by intelligence outside of North Korea, is a medium-range or intermediate-range ballistic missile under development by North Korea, which unlike the nation's earlier designs, uses solid fuel. Described as 'nuclear-capable', its first test flight was on 12 February 2017. The state-run KCNA news agency said that leader Kim Jong-un supervised the test, which was described as a success.


  1. 1 2 Zak, Anatoly. "R-17". RussianSpaceWeb.com. Archived from the original on 2015-02-25. Retrieved 2014-05-26.
  2. "Soviet/Russian Missile Designations". Johnston's Archive. Archived from the original on 2008-10-08. Retrieved 2008-11-22.
  3. "North Korean Missile Designations". GlobalSecurity.org. Archived from the original on 2017-08-19. Retrieved 2019-07-21.
  4. Wade, Mark. "R-17". Encyclopedia Astronautica . Archived from the original on 2008-02-19. Retrieved 2008-02-13.
  5. 1 2 3 "SS-1 `Scud' (R-11/8K11, R-11FM (SS-N-1B) and R-17/8K14)". Jane's Information Group. 26 April 2001. Archived from the original on 15 December 2007. Retrieved 2008-02-12.
  6. "R-11/SS-1B SCUD-A R-300 9K72 Elbrus/SS-1C SCUD-B". Federation of American Scientists. September 9, 2000. Archived from the original on March 7, 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-21.
  7. Zaloga, pp. 14–15
  8. Zaloga, p. 17
  9. Gilligan, Andrew (2011-05-08). "The forgotten frontline in Libya's civil war". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 2018-04-18. Retrieved 2019-07-21.
  10. McElroy, Damien (2011-08-16). "Gaddafi fires Scud missile at rebel forces". The Independent. Archived from the original on 3 November 2012. Retrieved 19 September 2011.
  11. "NATO says Gaddafi forces fire three Scud-type rockets". Reuters. 2011-08-22. Archived from the original on 2015-09-24. Retrieved 2019-07-21.
  12. Krebs, Gunter Dirk. "Soviet Ballistic Missiles". Gunter's Space Page. Archived from the original on 2014-05-27. Retrieved 2014-05-26.
  13. "Баллистические ракеты России" [Russian Ballistic Missiles]. InBSite.com. Archived from the original on 2013-03-31. Retrieved 2015-09-14.