Tactical ballistic missile

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The MGM-140 ATACMS tactical ballistic missile firing

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.


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 BRBMs[edit]

NATO reporting name Propellant Range Introduction Withdrawal Origin Operators
Al-Samoud 2 0160 180 km 2001 2003  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 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/KHAN 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
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

See also[edit]


  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