A short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) is a ballistic missile with a range of up to 1,000 kilometers or 620 miles. In the past and in potential regional conflicts, these missiles have been and will be used due to the short distances between some countries and their relative cost and ease of configuration.
They use projectile motion to deliver warheads on the target, unlike ICBMs. Short-range ballistic missiles stay within the Earth’s atmosphere. Today, let’s take a look at the top 10 short-range ballistic missiles, arranged according to their operational range:
Top 10 Short Range Ballistic Missiles (SRBMs)
10. 9K720 ISKANDER SRBM
The 9K720, also known as Iskander, is a mobile hypersonic short-range ballistic missile produced and deployed by the Russian military. It stands about 7.3 meters long, has a mass of 3.8 tons without the warhead, and has an operational range between 400 to 500 kilometers. The Iskander can carry a thermonuclear warhead up to 700 kilograms and also several different conventional warheads, including a cluster munitions warhead, a fuel-air explosive enhanced blast warhead, a high explosive fragmentation warhead, an earth penetrator for bunker busting, and an electromagnetic pulse device for anti-radar missions.
9. Dongfeng 15 ( DF-15) SRBM
The Dongfeng 15 SRBM was developed by the People’s Republic of China and is thought to be the only non-nuclear one.
Its size is about 9.1 meters long, has a mass of 6.2 tons, and an operational range of up to 600 kilometers, although later versions claim to be beyond that range.
The U.S. Department of Defense estimated that China has about 300 DF-15 missiles and 90 to 110 launchers. The DF-15 uses a solid fuel single-stage rocket, vertically launched from an 8-wheel transporter vehicle, with a warhead only 10th of the size of the missile body.
The Zolfaghar is an Iranian short-range solid fuel ballistic missile belonging to Iranian forces. The missile is 10.3 meters long, and its mass has about 4 tonnes. It has a reported range of 700 kilometers, ranking at number eight on the list. In June 2017, the missile was reportedly used to strike targets in Syria.
It can carry warheads up to 500 kilograms of high explosives or submunitions. In February 2019, Iran unveiled a new longer-range version of the Zolfaghar missile with a range of 1000 kilometers, but this belongs to the category of medium-range ballistic missiles.
The Hwasong-6 is a North Korean short-range tactical ballistic missile. To increase the range over its predecessor, the Hwasong-6 has its payload decreased to 770 kilograms, and the length of the rocket body extended to increase the propellant by 25 percent, with accuracy between 700 to 1000 meters. Such range is sufficient to strike targets as far away as western Japan.
In 1999, North Korea was estimated to have produced 600 to 1,000 Hwasong-6 missiles, of which 25 had been launched in tests, 300 to 500 had been exported, and 300 to 600 were in service with the Korean People’s Army.
Jericho is a general designation given to a loosely related family of deployed ballistic missiles developed by Israel from the 1960s forward. Jericho-1 was first publicly identified as an operational short-range ballistic missile system in late 1971.
It was 13.72 meters long, weighed 6.7 tons, ranged between 500 to 720 kilometers, and had a target accuracy of 1000 meters. It was intended to carry a nuclear warhead, and around 100 missiles of this type were believed to have been produced.
The Prithvi series is a class of tactical surface-to-surface short-range ballistic missiles developed by India. The Priet V3 is 8.56 meters long and has a mass of 5.6 tons. It is a two-stage surface-to-surface missile, with the first stage being solid-fueled and the second stage being liquid-fueled. The missile can carry a 1000-kilogram warhead to a distance of 350 kilometers, a 500-kilogram warhead to 600 kilometers, and a 250-kilogram warhead up to 750 kilometers.
4. K-15 (Sagarika)
The Sagarika, also known by the codename K-15, is an Indian submarine-launched SRBM with a range of 750 kilometers. Its length is 10 meters, and weighs between 6 to 7 tons. It was mainly designed for retaliatory nuclear strikes and belongs to the K-missile family, forming a part of India’s nuclear triad. Information about this family of missiles has mostly been kept classified. The K-15 is a two-stage missile that uses a gas booster to eject out of its launch platform and rise to the water’s surface, after which a solid rocket motor is fired after the missile reaches a fixed altitude.
3. Shaheen 1
The Shaheen 1 is a Pakistani land-based supersonic and short-range surface-to-surface-guided ballistic missile. Its overall length is 10 meters, it has a total mass of 9.5 tons and an operational range of 750 kilometers. A two-stage solid-fuel rocket motor propels it. There is also a new variant, the Shaheen 1A, with an operational range of over 1,000 kilometers but classified as a medium-range ballistic missile. The Shaheen 1 can deliver either a conventional or a nuclear payload much faster than the liquid-fueled missiles of Pakistan.
2. Hyunmoo IV
Hyunmoo is a series of strategic missiles developed by South Korea. The overall length of the Hyunmoo IV missile is 12.53 meters long, and its operational range has been tested to be 800 kilometers. It can travel at hypersonic speeds. The Hyunmoo series includes the only ballistic missile reverse-engineered by South Korea that was actually deployed. The new Hyunmoo-4 ballistic missiles will likely be fitted with a new 1000-kilogram warhead capable of destroying North Korea’s underground military facilities, command centers, and leadership. South Korean officials have provided little detail on the system’s specifications.
The Agni-1 is an Indian short-range ballistic missile with a range of 700 to 900 kilometers. The Indian Army Strategic Forces Command first deployed the nuclear-capable road-mobile missile in 2007. The Agni-1 is 15 meters long, has a launch weight of 12,000 kilograms, and an estimated payload of 1000 kilograms, allowing it to carry nuclear warheads.
With reduced payloads, the Agni-1 may be capable of ranging up to 1,200 kilometers, encompassing all of Pakistan. The Agni-1 is designed to be launched from rail-based platforms or road-mobile transporter erector launchers.