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Burkan 2
TypeBallistic missile, Mobile MRBM
Place of originYemen or Iran
Service history
In serviceFebruary 2017[1][2]
Used byHouthis in Yemen
Diameter0.88 metres (2.9 ft)[3]

Engineliquid propellant rocket
≥1,000 kilometres (620 mi)[4]
Arabic name
Burkan 2-H
H-بركان ٢

The Burkan-2H (Arabic H-بركان ٢), or Volcano-2H[5] (also spelled as Borkan H2[6] and Burqan 2H[7]) is a mobile short-range ballistic missile used by the Houthis militants in Yemen. The Volcano H-2 was first launched in July 2017.[8] It is related to the Scud missile family.[9]


The Burkan-2H was first revealed to the international community when it was launched at Saudi Arabia on 22 July 2017.[8] According to Saudi Arabia the missiles are of Iranian origin, with USAF Lt. General Jeffrey L. Harrigian, Commander, Air Force's Central Command in Qatar, agreeing.[4][9] However Jane's Intelligence Review has assessed that it would be difficult to ship entire ballistic missiles to Yemen, suggesting the Burkan-2 is a Scud modified in Yemen for longer range.[10]


The Burkan-2H is a member of the Scud family.[9] Analysts identify it as being based on the Iranian Qiam 1/Scud-C,[11][12] Iranian Shahab-2/Scud-C,[11] or Scud-D[13] missile.

The shape of the warhead is a "baby-bottle" design, which can shift the center of gravity and center of pressure to compensate for changes in payload weight from cone-shaped warheads; can increase drag, increasing stability during reentry (at the expense of range), and potentially increase accuracy; and can increase the terminal velocity of the warhead, making it harder to intercept.[14][15][16] Similarly shaped warheads are used on Iran's Shahab-3 and Qiam 1 missiles.[15]

Operational history[edit]

The first recorded launch of the Burkan-2H was on 22 July 2017. The Houthis released a statement, saying that the missile successfully hit the region of Yanbu in Saudi Arabia and caused a major fire at an Aramco oil refinery.[8] The Saudi government disputed this claim, stating that the fire was instead caused by a malfunctioning generator.[17]

On 4 November 2017, Saudi Arabia claimed to have intercepted a Burkan-2H over its capital, Riyadh, with a MIM-104 Patriot. The missile was reportedly aimed at King Khalid International Airport.[7] A December 2017 report in the New York Times casts doubt on the official Saudi claim that this missile was successfully shot down.[18] The article cites a team of experts who allege that the missile's warhead was not intercepted and actually detonated near the airport. The research team reviewed photo and video evidence, which led them to conclude that the missile-defense system had failed; the MIM-104 interceptor either missed the Volcano H-2 entirely or struck only the rear propulsion segment of the H-2 after it had separated from the warhead.

On 19 December 2017, Houthi rebels launched a Burkan-2H at the capital of Saudi Arabia Riyadh, with their supposed objective being to take out senior officials that were all expected to meet at Saudi Defense Headquarters; however, Saudi Arabia claimed that they were able to intercept the ballistic missile.[19] An independent analysis by IHS Jane's found no evidence that the missiles had been shot down.[20]

According to the US State Department, the missile was actually an Iranian Qiam 1.[21] Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Culture and Information also supplied the Associated Press with pictures from a military briefing of what it claimed were components from the intercepted missile bearing Iranian markings matching those on other pictures of the Qiam 1.[12] Joint Forces Command of the Arab Coalition detailed the evidence.[22] There have also been reports of previous attempts by Iran to send missiles to Yemen.[12]

On 25 March 2018, the Houthis fired a total of seven missiles, with three of them aimed at Riyadh, including at least one Burkan-2H. One Egyptian citizen was killed in the incident, the first casualty in the capital since the start of Saudi involvement in the Yemeni conflict. Saudi sources claimed that he was killed by debris from an intercepted Houthi missile,[23] but this is disputed, with analysis of videos from the scene appearing to show a Saudi Patriot missile malfunctioning and crashing into a residential neighbourhood.[24][25] The remaining four missiles targeted airports and military installations near Abha, Jizan and Najran in the south of Saudi Arabia.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Gulf of Aden Security Review". Critical Threats. February 6, 2017. Retrieved November 6, 2017.
  2. ^ "Military Force Fires a Long-Range Ballistic Missile at Base in Riyadh [القوة الصاروخية تستهدف بصاروخ باليستي بعيد المدى قاعدة عسكرية بالرياض]". Saba Net. February 6, 2017. Retrieved November 6, 2017.
  3. ^ "Missile Force Launches New Missile on Saudi Territory". Almotamar.net. September 2, 2016. Retrieved November 11, 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Proving grounds: Assessing Iranian weapon performance in Syria and Yemen" (PDF). Janes. 2018. Retrieved Feb 25, 2020.
  5. ^ Edroos, F (November 5, 2017). "Yemen's Houthis fire ballistic missile at Riyadh". Al Jazeera. Retrieved November 6, 2017.
  6. ^ "Retaliatory missile launched at Riyadh airport was Borkan H2, Yemen says". PressTV. November 5, 2017. Retrieved November 6, 2017.
  7. ^ a b Lister, T; Albadran, A; Al-Masmari, H; Sirgany, SE; Levenson, E (November 4, 2017). "Saudi Arabia intercepts ballistic missile over capital". CNN. Retrieved November 6, 2017.
  8. ^ a b c "Yemen targets Saudi oil refinery with ballistic missile". Yemen Press. July 23, 2017. Archived from the original on July 31, 2017. Retrieved November 6, 2017.
  9. ^ a b c Gambrell, Jon (November 10, 2017). "US Air Force official: Missile targeting Saudis was Iranian". ABC News. Retrieved November 10, 2017.
  10. ^ Yemeni rebels enhance ballistic missile campaign (PDF). Jane's Intelligence Review (Report). IHS. 7 July 2017. Retrieved 19 December 2017. However, it would be difficult for Iran to ship entire ballistic missiles to Yemen. The only rebel-controlled port where heavy weapon systems could be unloaded is Al-Hudaydah, but coalition and Western navies are imposing a UN-approved blockade that only allows vetted vessels to dock.
  11. ^ a b Brügge, Norbert (November 10, 2017). "The Soviet "Scud" Missile Family". Retrieved November 10, 2017.
  12. ^ a b c Gambrell, Jon (November 11, 2017). "Q&A: US, Saudi Arabia accuse Iran over Yemen missile launch". Washington Post. Retrieved November 11, 2017.
  13. ^ Lewis, Jeffrey (October 27, 2016). "Yemen's Burkan-1 Missile". Arms Control Wonk. Retrieved November 11, 2017.
  14. ^ Rubin, Uzi (24 August 2008). "Iran's New "Baby Bottle" Shihab". Middle East Missile Monitor. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  15. ^ a b "Qiam 1". Center for Strategic and International Studies. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  16. ^ Eisenstadt, Michael (November 2016). "Research Notes" (PDF). The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  17. ^ "Saudi refinery operations not affected by transformer fire". Al Arabiya English. July 24, 2017. Retrieved November 6, 2017.
  18. ^ "Did American Missile Defense Fail in Saudi Arabia?". The New York Times. 4 December 2017. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  19. ^ http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/19/middleeast/saudi-yemen-missile/index.html
  20. ^ Binnie, Jeremy (January 26, 2018). "Third Burkan-2H missile shows no sign of Saudi intercept". Jane's Information Group. A Burkan-2H ballistic missile that was shown to a television news team showed no indication it had been intercepted by a Saudi Patriot air defence system as claimed.
  21. ^ "Press Release: Ambassador Haley on Weapons of Iranian Origin Used in Attack on Saudi Arabia". United States Mission to the United Nations. 7 November 2017.
  22. ^ http://www.janes.com/article/75786/dossier-shows-iranian-missile-that-landed-in-saudi-arabia
  23. ^ "Saudi Arabia shoots down missiles from Yemen; one dead from debris". Reuters. 25 March 2018. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  25. ^ "Saudi Arabia's U.S.-made Patriot Missile Defense System 'Malfunctions,' Crashes in Residential Area". Haaretz. 26 March 2018. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  26. ^ "Saudi Arabia: Houthi missile attack kills Egyptian in Riyadh". Al Jazeera English. 26 March 2018. Retrieved 26 March 2018.