Engineering:Al-Samoud 2

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Al Samoud
An Al Samoud missile captured by US forces in Southern Iraq (2003)
TypeSingle-stage ballistic missile
Service history
In service2003
Used byIraqi Army
Production history

PropellantLiquid propellant
Solid propellant
Accuracy2.0 km CEP[1]
Mobile launcher

Al-Samoud (الصمود, alternately Al-Samed, which means steadfastness in Arabic)[2] was a liquid-propellant rocket tactical ballistic missile developed by Iraq in the years between the Gulf War and the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. The Iraqi army also developed a solid-fuel rocket version known as Ababil-100.


The missile was essentially a scaled-down Scud,[3] though parts were mostly derived from the Russian SA-2 'Guideline' surface-to-air missile. The first test-firing was carried out as early as 1997[2] and was supervised by UNSCOM.[4] The production started in 2001, and the goal was the assembly of ten missiles each month. The Al Samoud 2 was not fully operational by 2003, but some of them had been already delivered to the Iraqi army.[5]


The rocket engine evolved from the SA-2 design and the thrust vector controls from the Scud. The system also included an Iraqi-designed mobile launcher similar to the Al-Nida, built for the missile Al Hussein,[6] produced by the Iraqi company Al-Fida.[7]


The missile carried a 280 kilogram warhead that was half high explosives and half protective steel shell. The explosive charge weighed 140 kg, made of a mixture of 84 kg of RDX=60%, 42 kg of TNT= 30% and 14 kg of aluminium= 10%, the latter used as an energetic blast enhancer. The payload was also designed to upload different types of bomblets.[5]


The guidance package was assembled by cannibalizing gyroscopes from the Chinese Silkworm cruise missile.[5] A source is cited as claiming that there were inertial and even GPS guidance systems illegally imported from Belarus , but these allegations have not been confirmed.[8]

Banned by the UN

A test-launch of an Al Samoud, circa 1997

On February 13, 2003, a UN panel reported that Iraq's Al-Samoud 2 missiles, disclosed by Iraq to weapons inspectors in December, have a range of 180 km, in breach of UNSCR 1441. The limit allowed by the UN is 150 km.[9]

Iraq agreed to destroy the Al-Samoud 2 long range missiles, and by mid-March 2003, a number had been destroyed. Although UNMOVIC ordered to stop its production, Iraq assembled some 20 missiles during the early months of 2003.[10]

American forces found a cache of twelve Al Samoud missiles south of Baiji on July 21, 2003.[11]

Operational history (March–April 2003)

Aftermath of the Iraqi missile attack on 7 April
See also: Ababil-100

A number of Al-Samoud 2 missiles were fired at Kuwait during the 2003 conflict.[12] One of them, aimed at the Coalition Headquarters at Camp Doha, was successfully intercepted by a Patriot missile on March 27. Some debris hit buildings inside the US base.[13] The other missiles were also shot down or landed harmlessly in the desert.

A similar development, the Al-Fahd or Ababil-100, a solid propellant version of the Al-Samoud,[8] was also used by the Iraqi army during the invasion. The Headquarters of the 2nd Brigade, US 3rd Infantry Division, were struck south of Baghdad by a missile of this kind on April 7. Three soldiers and two foreign reporters were killed in the blast.[14][15][16][17][18][19]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "GIS SPecial Topical Studies:Iraq war 2003.". 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Miller, David: Conflict Iraq: Weapons and tactics of US and Iraqi Forces. Zenith imprint, 2003, page 22. ISBN:0-7603-1592-2
  3. Al-Samud
  4. Iraq's missile programs
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Samoud 2
  6. Cordesman, Anthony (2003). The Great Iraqi Missile Mystery: The Military Importance of the Ababil, Al Samoud II, Al Fatah, Badr 2000, and Al Huysayn. Center for Strategic and International Studies, 25 February 2003
  7. Unmovic - IAEA Press Statement on Inspection Activities in Iraq, 19 February 2003
  8. 8.0 8.1
  9. "After Iraq disclosed in its CAFCD that, on at least 13 occasions, its Al Samud II missile had reached ranges beyond 150 km, the UN put a stop to Al Samud II flight-testing until they could further assess the system’s capabilities. UNMOVIC convened a panel of missile experts in February 2003, which concluded that the Al Samud II violated UN statutes, and, therefore, the program should be frozen and the missiles destroyed."
  10. "The missile destruction program was incomplete when the inspectors left in mid-March, leaving Iraq with Al Samud II missiles that could be used against Coalition forces.."(...)"Although there was a freeze ordered by UNMOVIC, according to a former senior official at Al Karamah, Iraq produced approximately 20 missiles during the first quarter of 2003."
  11. "A cache of 12 Al Samoud missiles was found south of Bayji at LD7154 and LD7644 on 21 July 2003 at 1700 hrs.."
  12. The sources claim that only three to five Al-Samoud 2 were actually used by the Iraqis, the remainder missiles were purportedly Ababil-100/Al-Fahd or Laith-90, this latter a locally upgraded version of the Frog-7:
  14. Zucchino, David: Thunder Run: The Armored Strike to Capture Baghdad. Grove Press, 2004, page 162.
  15. "He (Lt. Col. Wesley, second in command) had gotten only thirty feet from his vehicle when a powerful Abril (sic) missile hit it dead center." Lacey, Jim:Takedown: the 3rd Infantry Division's twenty-one day assault on Baghdad. Naval Institute Press, 2007, page 243. ISBN:1-59114-458-2
  16. Iraqi missile hits Army base, By Steven Lee Myers. The New York Times, 04/07/2003.
  17. "On Point - The United States Army in Operation Iraqi Freedom". 
  18. Nach ersten Erkenntnissen soll es sich um eine irakische Boden-Boden-Rakete vom Typ Ababil-100 mit einer Reichweite von 130 Kilometern handeln. Focus magazine, 14 April 2003, report by Gudrun Dometeit (in German)
  19. Perry, Walter L. (2015). Operation Iraqi Freedom: Decisive War, Elusive Peace. RAND Corporation. pp. 178. ISBN 978-0-8330-4192-0. 

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