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Are ballistic missiles under used?

rz350

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I was reading on wiki about random stuff, I decided to look up a bit about short range, conventionally tipped ballistic missiles.

According to wiki, the only 3 types ever fired in anger are the V2 (Germany WWII era) the SS-1 Scud (1950's Russian missile, fired by several middle eastern nations) and the SS-21 Scarab (1980's Russian, two fired by Russia into Grozny during the Chechen war)

None have even been used in any major numbers.

Why is that, I am curious. They seem to provide a good solution to indirect fire, with much longer range then artillery, lower unit cost then a Cruise missile, and with no risk to a friendly human life, like with a plane.

to me (which is out of my lane...being an arm chair general here) they seem that they would fill a useful role in almost every group campaign.

So I'm to ask some people with more real knowledge then me why they are not used. (I'm sure there is a good reason..but I cant seem to find it on the Internet, so Ill ask some real experts)
 

Trinity

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MRLS is a favourite for the americans... especially with the gps additions

I admit.. I saw it on Future Weapons TV show... but they're being used now in
IRAQ (or so it sad) effectively.

That's as much I want to even stray close to this lane.
 

George Wallace

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So no Ballistic Missiles were fired at Saudi Arabia?  No Ballistic Missiles were fired at Israel?  I wonder then what all those Patriot Missiles were being fired off for?
 

rz350

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George Wallace said:
So no Ballistic Missiles were fired at Saudi Arabia?  No Ballistic Missiles were fired at Israel?  I wonder then what all those Patriot Missiles were being fired off for?

Note I said some where used by Middle eastern nations SS-1 Scuds fired by Iraq, amongst other times they have been used.

However, I still stand that they have not been used heavly. (And not used at all by any western nation)

rz350 said:
According to wiki, the only 3 types ever fired in anger are the V2 (Germany WWII era) the SS-1 Scud (1950's Russian missile, fired by several middle eastern nations) and the SS-21 Scarab (1980's Russian, two fired by Russia into Grozny during the Chechen war)

@trin The MRLS isnt quite the type I was reffering too, I ment the larger types, "Scud" types.

MRLS is used by US, UK and Russian(and soviet...they had a major hand in beating back the Nazi's..the katucha or whatever it was called) forces (and I am sure by others as well)
 

Trinity

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rz350 said:
Note I said some where used by Middle eastern nations SS-1 Scuds fired by Iraq, amongst other times they have been used.

However, I still stand that they have not been used heavly. (And not used at all by any western nation)

@trin The MRLS isnt quite the type I was reffering too, I ment the larger types, "Scud" types.

MRLS is used by US, UK and Russian(and soviet...they had a major hand in beating back the Nazi's..the katucha or whatever it was called) forces (and I am sure by others as well)

Yeah.. my bad for not explaining more... I was figuring MRLS was easier/better than BM's..  but that's way out of my lane.
 
A

aesop081

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Your first mistake was to use Wikkipedia as a basis for anything........
 

Petard

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Wikipedia does have a bit more on this type of missile, I think this was what Trinity was getting at, the ATACMS, which is fired from a modified version of MLRS, but the missile is much larger than the standard MLRS missile, and was used in both Gulf wars.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ATACMS
 

Trinity

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Petard said:
Wikipedia does have a bit more on this type of missile, I think this was what Trinity was getting at, the ATACMS, which is fired from a modified version of MLRS, but the missile is much larger than the standard MLRS missile, and was used in both Gulf wars.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ATACMS

Thank you for typing what I was thinking... I need to keep you around more.  ;)

If you have the Trinity to English secret decoder ring.. tell me where to find one!
 

rz350

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cdnaviator said:
Your first mistake was to use Wikkipedia as a basis for anything........

I later went on to comb the net, FAS global security, ect, and found little more then what wiki had to say...but I did do it before I posted.

Petard said:
Wikipedia does have a bit more on this type of missile, I think this was what Trinity was getting at, the ATACMS, which is fired from a modified version of MLRS, but the missile is much larger than the standard MLRS missile, and was used in both Gulf wars.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ATACMS

Hmm, that is good example of one being used. It does not follow a true ballistic flight path, but its close enough.  I couldn't seem to find that by searching ballistic missile anywhere. Thanks for pointing it out!

 

Petard

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Trinity said:
Thank you for typing what I was thinking... I need to keep you around more.  ;)

If you have the Trinity to English secret decoder ring.. tell me where to find one!
ah ya got me good there Trinity, I ought not to be putting words in someone elses mouth :-X
 

Trinity

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Petard said:
ah ya got me good there Trinity, I ought not to be putting words in someone elses mouth :-X

No... I'm not mocking you.. That was EXACTLY what I was thinking and trying to say.
Sure, in most cases you probably shouldn't put words in someone's mouth... however...
you had me spot on...  no worries  ;)
 

Harry Potter

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I think the reason is a combination of a few things, all more or less related. 

When ballistic missiles were first developed, they were really intended to carry nuclear warheads.  The missiles were notoriously inaccurate, but because the nuke warhead had such a large kill zone, the accuracy problem wasn't a real issue.  It is only later, when regional conflicts erupted, that conventional warheads were fitted on those missiles, with the inaccuracy problem seriously limiting their usefulness.  In essence they turned out to be more effective as a deterrent while still on their TEL, then once fired.  The V2 itself wasn't a very accurate weapon either.

That accuracy problem was tackled by the more technologically advanced nations, and the cruise missile was produced.  For shorter range engagements, cruise missiles and guided rockets of the TACAMS family were more effective than ballistic missiles.  It takes up quite a bit of fuel on the missile itself to set it up on a high altitude ballistic trajectory, and that seriously limits its effective payload.  It is more economical to keep them low, hence the cruise missiles, TACAMS etc...  Ballistic missiles were also improved in accuracy, but cost, payloads and all were more suited for strategic nuclear strikes, and thus not "quite" used as often (no complaint here!).

So, in their early days, short range ballistic missiles were armed with warheads that people were very reluctant to shoot at each other.  Later, they have been armed with conventional warheads, but the limitation of their technology makes them largely ineffective.

Cheers,
Harry     
 

FredDaHead

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I'm a bit out of my arc, here, but why are "modern" ballistic missiles considered inaccurate when they use basically the same principle as artillery? I'm no expert, but I keep hearing about how the artillery we use is getting more accurate, and all that. I thought ballistics were ballistics--how can artillery (balistic) be considered "accurate" when balistic missiles are considered "inaccurate"?

Or am I just missing the big picture here?
 

geo

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In the 1950 -70 period time frame, Nuclear balistic missiles were inacurate.  GPS &  the same guidance systems that made Cruise & Patriot missiles accurate made the balistics a tool that could be used in regional conflicts BUT,  the governments with the ICBMs had other weapons that were just as effective and practical....

Also, SALT agreements required the Govt's to destroy a large part of that inventory.
 

Harry Potter

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A difference has to be made between the older generation and the newer generation of these systems.  

There is no question that the newer generation of ballistic missiles are accurate (GPS guided re-entry vehicle and all).  The same technology, applied to conventional artillery has also increased its accuracy (GPS, laser, etc...).  In both cases, the warhead is terminally guided, as opposed to freefall resulting in Circular Error Probable (CEP) calculated in terms of meters.  

Older generations were not similarly guided, and the accuracy depended on the aiming at the launch point, with no opportunity to correct the trajectory of the warhead beyond a certain point.  The margin or error increases with the distance, so longer range systems were generally somewhat less accurate than shorter range systems.  Tube artillery made up for that by firing multiple rounds to saturate a piece of real estate with indirect fire.  Rocket artillery made up for that by using weapons of mass destruction.

Cheers,
Harry  
 

a_majoor

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One factor (among many) that makes the ballistic missile less accurate than an artillery piece is that the rocket is carrying it's own fuel and energy for the ride, while once a shell is fired, it coasts on a ballistic trajectory. The rocket is still subjected to vibration from the motor, while its weight and centre of gravity shift constantly as the fuel is condumed. Of course, there are many ways to compensate for these chages, but they are high tech items operating in a high stress environment, so are subject to failure as well.

Cruise missiles operate in a much friendlier flight regime, and as aircraft are well understood (being in mass production for almost half a century before large rockets), it is easier to make a good aircraft than a good rocket.
 
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