Al Hussein

The origins of the Al-Hussein could be traced back to the first stages of the war with Iran. The Iranian forces, after suffering a heavy attrition of their aircraft, had made an extensive use of Scud B missiles, which can hit a target 185 miles away. Key Iraqi cities like Sulaymaniya, Kirkuk, and Baghdad itself came within the range of this weapon. Iraq, which also deployed Scuds B, was conversely unable to strike the main Iranian industrial centers, including the capital, Teheran, because these are located more than 300 miles from the border.To surmount the Iranian advantage, Iraqi engineers designed a program to upgrade the original Scuds into a series of ballistic missiles whose range would surpass 500 miles. The assembly facility was located near Taji. The first development, called Al-Hussein or Project 1728, with a range of 400 miles, allowed the Iraqi army to attack deep inside the Iranian boundaries. The range was extended by reducing the original 945 kg warhead to 500 kg and increasing the propellant capacity. The warhead carried HE, although it had Chemical, Biological and Nuclear capabilities. Up to 200 missiles were launched against Iran between 1987 and 1988, killing some 2,000 people. Eighty-eight of these modified Scuds were fired at Saudi Arabia (46) and Israel (42) during January and February 1991.

Country Name Origin Year
Iraq 1988
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Iraq 1988 View

The origins of the Al-Hussein could be traced back to the first stages of the war with Iran. Iraq was the first belligerent to use long range artillery rockets during the Iran–Iraq War, firing limited numbers of FROG-7s at the towns of Dezful and Ahvaz. Iran responded with Scud-Bs obtained from Libya. These missiles can hit a target 185 miles away, therefore key Iraqi cities like Sulaymaniya, Kirkuk, and Baghdad itself came within the range of this weapon.

Iraq, which also deployed the Scud-B, was conversely unable to strike the main Iranian industrial centers, including the capital, Teheran, because these are located more than 300 miles from the border. To surmount the Iranian advantage, Iraqi engineers designed a program to upgrade the original Scuds into a series of ballistic missiles whose range would surpass 500 miles. The assembly facility was located near Taji.

The first development, called Al-Hussein or Project 1728, with a range of 400 miles, allowed the Iraqi army to attack deep inside the Iranian boundaries. The range was extended by reducing the original 945 kg warhead to 500 kg and increasing the propellant capacity. The warhead carried HE, although it had Chemical, Biological and Nuclear capabilities. According to UN inspectors reports, the Iraqis were able to produce all the major components of the system by 1991. The Al-Hussein was 12.46 meters long and had a diameter of 0.88. The guidance was inertial, without terminal phase. The altitude where the motor burnt out was 31 miles, while the trajectory highest altitude or apogee, was 94 miles. The accuracy for the impact, or Circular error probable, was estimated in a radius of 1,000 meters, and the missile launch weight was 6,400 kg. Its flight time was of about seven minutes for the maximum range.

The missile fuel was common to every tactical missile of the Cold war: a mix of kerosene, ignited by a nitric acid oxidizer, called IRFNA. Each missile loaded 4,500 kg of liquid propellant, composed by a 22% of kerosene and 78% of IRFNA.

The Iraqis also modified the extension of the launch rail of 11 Soviet-produced MAZ-543 to fit them for the longer local-built missiles. The unit responsible for the maintenance and operation of the new missiles was initially the 224 Brigade, already established since 1976 to deal with the R-17 Scuds imported from the Soviet Union in 1972.

By 1989, a second army Brigade was formed, the 223, equipped with 4 locally developed trailer launchers, known as the Al-Nida. There were also a second indigenous launcher, the Al-Waleed, but apparently it never became operational.

Some concrete silos were built west of Ar Rutba, near the border with Jordan. They were destroyed by precision bombings carried out by USAF F-15s during the first hours of Operation Desert Storm.

Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988)

Up to 200 missiles were launched against Iran between 1987 and 1988, killing some 2,000 people. Teheran, Qom and Isfahan became the usual targets. Their poor accuracy, while mostly ineffective to conduct a major strategic campaign, made of them basically weapons of terror, forcing thousands of refugees out of the main Iranian cities. This exchange of ballistic missiles was indeed known as 'the war of the cities'. The full-scale campaign lasted from 29 February 1988 until April 20, when a truce was agreed by both sides. Iraq, which had been looking for some kind of compromise gesture from Iran, is largely viewed as the 'winner' by some authors.

According to Iranian sources, the fuselage and warhead were prone to break into fragments while re-entering the atmosphere. Ironically, this phenomenon would later represent an advantage as a counter-measure against the Patriot missile during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

Persian Gulf War (1991)

Eighty-eight of these modified Scuds were fired at Saudi Arabia (46) and Israel (42) during January and February 1991.

The greatest tactical achievement of the Al-Hussein was the destruction of a US military barracks in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, on 25 February 1991, when 28 soldiers were killed and other 110 injured, effectively taking out of action an entire supply company, composed mainly of reservists from Pennsylvania.

One of the units involved in this incident, the 14th Quartermaster Detachment, specializing in water-purification, suffered the heaviest toll among US troops deployed in the Persian Gulf, with 81% of its soldiers killed or wounded. The other unit badly hit by the strike was the 47th Quartermaster Detachment.

The failure of the Patriot system in tracking the Iraqi missile over Dhahran was provoked by a shift in the range gate of the radar, due to the continuous use of the software for more than 100 hours without resetting.

General Information
Developed by Iraq
Deployed by Iraq
Development Year early 1980s
Deployment Year 1988
Platform Al Waleed 8-wheel TEL, MAZ 543P and Al Nida (Dimler-Benz trailer), and fixed launcher (steel support ring mounted on a concrete base)
Number manufactured about 400+ (Scud b convert)
Number deployed about 500

Dimensions and Performance
Length 12.46m
Body Diameter 88cm
Launch Weight 6,600kg
Range 600km
Altitude 150km(apogee)
Accuracy 1,000m CEP

Components
Propulsion 1-stage liquid propellant
Engine burn-time: 85sec
Payload single warhead 500kg
Warhead HE, chemical or biological
Guidance Inertial

End notes