The R17 Elbrus, or SCUD B, as it is known by its’ NATO designation. was based on Nazi Germany’s revolutionary V-2 rocket that rained down on London during WWII. Like the V-2 the SCUD flew long distances and was difficult to shoot down when traveling at Mach 5.
Scud is the name 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 (the first version), and the R-17 (later R-300) Elbrus (later developments). 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.
Scud missiles have been used in combat since the 1970s, mostly in wars in the Middle East. They became familiar to the Western public during the 1991 Gulf War, when Iraq fired dozens at Israel and Saudi Arabia.
The V-2 and SCUD were the only ballistic missiles ever launched in combat. The SCUD could carry nuclear or conventional weapons and was accurate only up to 450 meters. Unable to pinpoint military targets, Iraq often launched SCUDS into civilian populations – 46 into Saudi Arabia and 42 into Israel in a failed attempt to draw Isreal into the war and create terror.
The first mock-up of the R-17 Elbrus 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.
The Isayev RD-21 engine in the R-17 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. 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.
The new MAZ-543 vehicle was officially designated 9P117 Uragan, and its Russian crews nicknamed it Kashalot (sperm whale), because of its size. 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.