Tactical ballistic missile

A tactical ballistic missile (TBM) (or battlefield range ballistic missile (BRBM)) is a ballistic missile designed for short-range battlefield use. Typically, range is less than 300 kilometres (190 mi).[according to whom?] Tactical ballistic missiles are usually mobile to ensure survivability and quick deployment, as well as carrying a variety of warheads to target enemy facilities, assembly areas, artillery, and other targets behind the front lines. Warheads can include conventional high explosive, chemical, biological, or nuclear warheads. Typically tactical nuclear weapons are limited in their total yield compared to strategic rockets.

The MGM-140 ATACMS tactical ballistic missile firing


Tactical ballistic missiles fill the gap between conventional rocket artillery and longer-range short-range ballistic missiles. Tactical missiles can carry heavy payloads deep behind enemy lines in comparison to rockets or gun artillery, while having better mobility and less expense than the more strategic theatre missiles. Additionally, due to their mobility, tactical missiles are better suited to responding to developments on the battlefield.

For many nations, tactical missiles represent the upper limit of their land-based military equipment. They can provide a powerful weapon for a very economical price, and in some cases are sought to help level the field against opponents who are clearly superior in other areas of military technology. Currently, ballistic missile technology is relatively accessible to nations that may find other military technology beyond easy reach.

Ballistic missiles are still difficult to defeat on the battlefield. Newer air defense systems have improved ability to intercept tactical missiles, but still can not reliably protect assets against ballistic missile threats. This allows a moderate force of missiles to threaten a superior enemy by penetrating their air defenses better than with conventional aircraft, while providing a deeper strike than conventional artillery.


Early large rockets and missiles were propelled by liquid-propellant rocket engines, as the first types developed. These were replaced as soon as possible by solid fuel rocket motors. Liquid propellants involve cryogenic (liquid oxygen) or corrosive (nitric acid) oxidisers. These must be loaded before launch, delaying the rocket's time into action. This delay was a problem for large strategic missiles, but especially so for tactical.

Missiles, particularly in the Soviet Union, switched to using storable liquid propellants such as IRFNA, inhibited nitric acid. These were still hazardous to handle, but could be stored pre-loaded in the missile. This also allowed the development of single vehicle transporter erector launchers (TEL), rather than the previous convoy of carriers, launchers, fuel vehicles and service vehicles.

Western missiles adopted solid propellants instead,[i] which were inherently storable, and later Warpac missiles followed suit. Tactical missiles are now almost universally solid-fuelled, except for some satellite states using indigenous developments of the original Scud platform.

Specific TBMsEdit

NATO reporting name Propellant Range Introduction Withdrawal Origin Operators
Al-Samoud 2 0160 180 km 2001 2003   Iraq
Al-Hussein Liquid propelled 600-650 km 1987 1991   Iraq
Blue Water 1960 (first flight) cancelled 1962   United Kingdom
MGM-140 ATACMS 0300 300 km 1986 2007 (program terminated, missile remains in service)   United States   Bahrain   Greece   Taiwan   South Korea   Turkey   United Arab Emirates
MGM-52 Lance liquid 0120 120 km 1972 1992   United States   Belgium   West Germany   Israel   Italy   Netherlands   United Kingdom
PGM-11 Redstone 92.5km-323 km 1958 1964   USA
MGM-18 Lacrosse 19 km 1959 1964   USA
WS-1 0180 60–180 km ≈1990   China
DTI-1 0180 60–180 km   Thailand
Grom (missile system) 0180 280–500 km   Ukraine
Shaurya two stage solid 700 km 2011   India
Prahaar solid 150-200 km 2011   India
Pragati solid 170 km 2013   India
Pralay solid 500 km TBD   India
Ghaznavi (missile) 0320290-320 km 2004   Pakistan
Nasr/Hatf IX 006060 km 2013   Pakistan
Abdali/Hatf-II 0180180 km 2002   Pakistan
Hatf-I 0100 100 km 1990   Pakistan
Sky Spear 0300 120-300 km 2001   Taiwan
J-600T Yıldırım 0900 150–900 km 1998   Turkey
TOROS 0160 100–160 km   Turkey
Bora 280 km 2017   Turkey
T-300 Kasırga 0120 100-120km   Turkey
2K1 Mars FROG-2 Solid 0700 7-18 km   Soviet Union
Scud A-D SS-1 Scud liquid 0700 180-700 km 1953   Soviet Union
Scud A-D SS-1 Scud liquid 0700 180-700 km 1953   Soviet Union
OTR-21 Tochka SS-21 Scarab 0185 70–185 km 1975   Soviet Union   Armenia   Azerbaijan   Belarus   Bulgaria   Kazakhstan   North Korea   Russia   Ukraine   Syria   Yemen
Former:   Czechoslovakia   Czech Republic   East Germany   Germany   Lithuania   Poland   Slovakia   Soviet Union
OTR-23 Oka SS-23 Spider 0120 500km 1979 1987   Soviet Union
2K6 Luna Frog-3, Frog-5 0050 10–50 km 1960 1982   Soviet Union   Afghanistan   Algeria   Cuba   East Germany   Egypt   Iraq   Libya   North Korea   Poland   Romania   Soviet Union   Syria   Yemen   Yugoslavia
9K52 Luna-M Frog-7 0050 70 km 1964   Soviet Union   Algeria   Afghanistan   Belarus   Egypt   Libya   North Korea   Russia   Syria   Ukraine   Yemen
Former   Bulgaria   Cuba   Czechoslovakia   East Germany   Hungary   Iraq   Kuwait   Lebanon   Poland   Romania   South Yemen   Soviet Union   Yugoslavia
LORA 0300 400 km[1] 2005   Israel
KN-02 Toksa 0160 120-160 km 2008   North Korea
9K720 Iskander SS-26 Stone 0500 400-500 km 2006   Russia
Predator Hawk 0500 300 km 2016   Israel
KTSSM 0500 120 km 2019   South Korea
BRE8 King Dragon/Fire Dragon 0500 280-300 km 2014?   China
Burkan-1 0800 800 km 2016   Yemen
al-Najm al-Thaqib-1 045 45 km 2015   Yemen
al-Najm al-Thaqib-2 075 75 km 2015   Yemen
Fajr-5 Solid propelled 180 km 1990s   Iran   Syria   Yemen   Iraq
Shahab-1 0350 350 km 1987 ~2016   Iran
Shahab-2 liquid propelled 500 km 1990 2016   Iran
Fateh-110 Solid propelled 300 km 2002   Iran   Syria   Lebanon
Fateh-313 Solid propelled 500 km 2015   Iran
Qiam 1 Liquid propelled 800 km 2010   Iran   Yemen
Zelzal-1 Solid propelled 160 km 1990   Iran
Zelzal-2 Solid propelled 210 km 1998   Iran   Syria   Yemen
Zelzal-3 Solid propelled 200-250 km 2007   Iran   Syria
Naze'at 6-H Solid propelled 80-100 km 1980's   Iran
Naze'at 10-H Solid propelled 100-130 km 1980's   Iran

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ The liquid-fuelled MGM-52 Lance was one exception, remaining in service until the end of the Cold War.


  1. ^ Israel Aerospace tests long-range LORA missile 20 Jun, 2017 12:36 Globes correspondent