Chapter 2



Modernization planning must start with the evaluation of the global threat environment that could affect the AMD mission. This chapter describes the air and missile threats facing U.S. military forces. Theater air and missile threats and regional threats appear first, followed by a brief discussion of the strategic threat to the United States. Knowledge of the capabilities and characteristics of potential threat systems enables AMD to focus resources on countering the threat. The information provided in this chapter was obtained from Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and other open-source documents.

The evolving threat will take on new, stressing characteristics in the 21st century. Adversaries will closely observe U.S. capabilities in an effort to identify and exploit weaknesses using asymmetric approaches. An asymmetric approach by a future adversary seeks to negate U.S. capabilities by simple counters and avoids a direct match with U.S. strengths. Figure 2-1 presents a Defense Science Board analysis that compares a potential adversary’s difficulty in developing various measures and countermeasures to the effectiveness of those measures against the United States. For example, an effective asymmetric approach would be to overwhelm U.S. missile defense capabilities with large numbers of relatively inexpensive cruise missiles. Fundamental capabilities that 21st-century adversaries may pursue to counter U.S. strengths include WMD; reconnaissance, intelligence, surveillance, and target acquisition (RISTA); precision strike; large numbers of inexpensive missiles; sophisticated, very low observable cruise missiles; and information warfare. Some states will rely on asymmetric capabilities as a substitute for, or complement to, large conventional forces. Regional competition will reinforce the perceived need to acquire unmanned systems that provide high operational effectiveness for nominal cost.

While fixed-wing and helicopter threats are still formidable, the proliferation trend is toward unmanned threats – TBMs, CMs, UAVs, and rockets. Proliferation trends are shown in Figure 2-2.

The proliferation of these unmanned systems is accelerated by their relative low cost compared to the traditional fixed-wing delivery systems. Figure 2-3 illustrates the cost advantage of unmanned systems. Sophisticated and/or rudimentary versions of these unmanned systems pose a danger to deployed U.S. military forces. TBM and CM systems can deliver WMDs on deployed forces or geopolitical assets. RISTA UAVs can detect U.S. force operations, leading to potential disruption of decisive operations. Rockets, such as the Katyusha, pose special hazards and challenges across the spectrum of operations.

Traditional air threats will still exist in the world of tomorrow. Helicopters will continue to pose a lethal hazard for ground forces. Fixed-wing aircraft will continue to evolve as expensive but highly capable multi-role weapon systems. Global proliferation of these weapons increases the likelihood that U.S. forces will oppose a regional power with these capabilities.

Theater Air and Missile Threat

During the Cold War, the primary focus of AMD was the massive Soviet fixed-wing and helicopter threats. The 1991 Gulf War caused military planners and intelligence analysts to realize that the air and missile threat to the force was changing in complexity and focus. The trend toward unmanned threats is driven by cost, training, operational factors, and a strategy to counter, rather than match, enemy capabilities. Potential adversaries can obtain a significant number of UAVs or CMs for the price of one or two highly sophisticated aircraft, and without the attendant costs of training, maintaining, basing, and sustaining a manned aircraft fleet. The employment of these threat platforms virtually throughout the battlefield, together with TBMs, large-caliber rockets (LCR), and satellites, will jeopardize friendly operations. Each platform possesses inherent lethal capabilities that may stress the defense of the force, and each is increasingly available on the world market.

Tactical Ballistic Missiles

TBMs include SRBMs and MRBMs. These surface-launched, free-flight missiles have the capability to carry nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) weapons. Current state-of-the-art TBMs are generally solid fuel and single stage. Circular error probable (CEP) averages one percent of the range, with the exception of the SS-21 which can have a CEP of 35 to 50 meters. TBMs can be launched from highly mobile, difficult-to-detect, transporter erector launchers (TEL). Also, while technically not a missile, large caliber rockets are grouped with TBMs in this AMDMP because their size, trajectory, warheads, and battlefield targets are similar to those of SRBMs.

What Makes TBMs Threatening? TBMs are inherently difficult to defend against. Characteristics that increase TBM effectiveness include a reduced radar cross section (RCS), an all-weather capability, high terminal velocity, reduced notification time for defending forces, and a variety of warheads that are difficult to kill. High velocity impact kills are required to assure destruction of the warhead and an NBC agent. Figure 2-4 illustrates the threatening characteristics of TBMs.

TBM Trends. The TBM trend is increased range and accuracy. In the near future, the Army will face mostly inaccurate TBMs launched at large concentrations of troops, materials, and population centers. With the use of WMD or submunitions, the TBM’s lack of accuracy will be mitigated by larger dispersion areas. As accuracy, range, and payload capacity improve, TBMs will become more tactically effective. Terminal guidance will be a method of improving accuracy, permitting hits within 100 meters of the designated target. Increased payloads and ranges will be achieved through the use of solid fuels and multiple staging. Improved TBMs will target command and control nodes, route choke points, air defense sites, fire support sites, and logistics concentrations.

Large-Caliber Rockets

LCRs have trajectories, signatures, payloads, and target sets similar to those of SRBMs. The ability to deliver high volumes of fire and a variety of warheads makes LCRs ideal weapon systems for fire support missions (Figure 2-5). Highly mobile launchers are effective in supporting forward artillery requirements. This mobility and the rocket’s short flight time provide little warning for maneuver forces, and their relatively short range precludes engagement by current missile defense systems.

LCR Trends. Rockets are widely proliferated, and their prevalence and use are not expected to diminish in the future. The high volume of fire and multiple warhead option of multiple launch rocket systems make them a very appealing weapon system for threat nations. In the future, threat nations will deploy infrared (IR) and antiradiation-seeking warheads with these missile systems, improving their use against armor systems, command and control nodes, and battlefield radars.

Cruise Missiles

The terror potential of cruise missiles was first shown by the V-1 during World War II. Tomahawk clearly demonstrated the lethal capability of modern cruise missiles during the 1991 Gulf War and in Bosnia in 1995. The tremendous success of this new, potent weapon was an incentive for adversaries to acquire a land attack cruise missile (LACM) capability. Although only a limited number of operational LACMs currently exist, they have generated increased interest in LACMs, and numerous nations are developing new systems.

What Makes LACMs Threatening? Emerging LACMs are a lethal and stressing threat due to new and vastly improved capabilities, as shown in Figure 2-6. Improved capabilities include a low-altitude flight profile down to 50 meters, long standoff ranges, all-aspect attack, a small radar cross section, variable launch options, a wide array of warheads (ranging from HE to smart submunitions), and pinpoint accuracy. LACMs are getting smaller, and many designs allow launching from fighter-bomber aircraft such as the Su-24 Fencer and the F-1 Mirage.

LACM Trends. The tremendous success of LACMs in the 1991 Gulf War may have spurred worldwide development that threat planners expect to increase, if not double, the number of operational LACMs within the next ten years. Countries interested in developing an LACM capability can do so through direct purchase, by modifying antiship cruise missiles (ASCM) or by developing indigenous systems. The technological improvements in propulsion, navigation, modular airframes, and warhead design contribute to very sophisticated LACMs that are capable of striking targets across the full depth of the battlefield. LACMs can destroy ports or airfields to prevent entry and expansion. In addition, they can prevent or limit movement of maneuver forces.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

UAVs include drones, characterized by preprogrammed flight paths and patterns, and remotely piloted vehicles (RPV), which are remotely flown by ground-based controllers. They can perform a variety of missions, ranging from reconnaissance and battlefield surveillance to attack and electronic warfare.

What Makes UAVs Threatening? UAVs (Figure 2-7) provide RISTA platforms for target detection, identification and location, weapon targeting, target designation, and battle damage assessment. State-of-the-art sensors and data links provide real-time or near-real-time information to ground commanders, fire support systems, maneuver forces, and aircraft, allowing up-to-the-minute target servicing. Equipped with laser designators, UAVs can target assets for attack by smart munitions.

Their low RCSs, in combination with terrain masking, make them difficult to detect and engage. Low observable properties inherent in most UAV designs enable these small vehicles to get close to targets where high jamming power levels are not required. Mission-dictated flight pro-files take full advantage terrain, increasing system survivability and optimizing coverage. Flight altitudes will normally be 300 to 3000 meters. UAVs conducting RISTA missions will normally fly at about 3000 meters, an altitude safe from small arms fire.

UAV payloads usually consist of video cameras, daylight or night infrared for reconnaissance missions, and film cameras. Other major payload categories include signal intelligence (SIGINT), electronic warfare (EW), and attack warheads.

Several nations are developing and fielding anti-radiation homing UAVs with the primary mission of attacking battlefield radio frequency (RF) emitters (radars, communications). These platforms have a variety of launch options and are usually fire-and-forget systems. Other UAV attack systems employ IR guidance to kill tanks or fighting vehicles.

UAV Trends. Drones and RPVs constitute an increasingly important aerodynamic vehicle class. UAV technology is proliferating rapidly. Today, there are 46 countries involved in the development and production of some 120 UAV programs. After 2005, experts project that there will be more than 50 developers and 75 user countries. The primary role of UAVs, to date, has been reconnaissance. However, their roles will expand as a result of improved guidance capabilities and smaller, more efficient engines. New roles for UAVs may include electronic combat, decoy, ground attack, and suppression of enemy air defense (SEAD). A significant capability that some nations deploy involves a reconnaissance UAV directly linked to an artillery unit’s fire direction center. This complex provides a real-time reconnaissance information link, followed by immediate fire and damage assessment. UAVs are good candidates for the application of stealth technology and spin-off technology from cruise missiles. As integral parts of reconnaissance-strike complexes or used as attack weapons, UAVs will enhance combat capabilities and will be a significant threat facing the future Army.


Almost every country in the world maintains helicopters to support military requirements. Most helicopters are utility systems that are, or can be, armed to perform a variety of roles, thus offering most nations an inexpensive and effective substitute to the more expensive attack helicopter. The versatility and survivability of helicopters make them ideal for use in division and corps areas. There is a great potential for their use in certain regions of the world (e.g., helicopters were among the first platforms used by Iraq in its invasion of Kuwait).

What Makes Helicopters Threatening? Most threat ground force commanders rely primarily on helicopters to fill their direct air support requirements. Helicopters can perform a variety of missions as reflected in Figure 2-8. Low-flying helicopters taking full advantage of terrain masking are difficult to acquire and target. As better fire control and weapon capabilities are introduced, systems will be able to search, acquire, and fire at ground targets from longer standoff ranges, thus increasing their survivability.

Helicopter Trends. Improved technical capabilities inherent in the typical attack and armed helicopter will focus on ground-attack capabilities, most notably with respect to fire control and survivability. The best that technology can offer will be found in dedicated attack helicopters. Four trends stand out:

Fixed-Wing Aircraft

The fixed-wing threat has not declined. There are numerous producers of combat fixed-wing aircraft. The Former Soviet Union (FSU) had been the major developer and leading exporter of combat aircraft, and today many countries still operate a large number of Soviet-produced aircraft. Countries are purchasing new aircraft, upgrading older aircraft in their inventories, or both.

What Makes Fixed-Wing Aircraft Threatening? Allied air power during the 1991 Gulf War provided the world with a remarkable demonstration of what well-employed fixed-wing aircraft can do. Despite the rise of the smart missile, the Gulf War demonstrated that the manned combat aircraft still plays an important role. Fixed-wing combat aircraft can perform a variety of missions as shown in Figure 2-9. Mission equipment, such as integrated navigation/bombing computers, provides new combat aircraft with a precision-strike capability day or night and in bad weather. New aircraft also incorporate many survivability features, such as radar warning receivers (RWR), on-board jammers, chaff, and flares. A lower RCS will also contribute to improved survivability and mission success rate as aircraft become more difficult to detect.

Fixed-wing aircraft can employ a variety of munitions, including highly accurate tactical air-to-surface missiles (TASM) and LACMs.

Fixed-Wing Trends. The current premier operational aircraft is the F-117A Stealth Fighter, a fifth-generation jet aircraft. This generation is marked mainly by stealth technology, composite material construction, and highly advanced avionics and navigation features. Most of the world’s current advanced aircraft are fourth-generation jet airplanes (e.g., F-14, F-15, F-16, MiG-29, MiG-31, Su-27). Upgrading older generation aircraft with state-of-the-art avionics packages and weapons systems makes them extremely lethal and highly effective.

Tactical Air-to-Surface Missiles

The TASM is of special concern because of its accuracy, standoff range, high velocity, and small RCS. Currently, state-of-the-art TASMs have millimeter wave (MMW) radar seekers that allow them to function through a smoke-filled, imaging-obscured atmosphere, day or night. The TASM warhead designs include shaped charges, self-forging fragments, reactive materials, smart mines, smart submunitions, and rocket-boosted kinetic energy penetrators. The antiradiation missile (ARM), a member of the TASM class of munitions, will be continuously improved to counter/defeat radar countermeasures. TASM technologies will keep pace with changes in the intended battlefield targets and allow the missiles to penetrate defense systems and counter the effects of countermeasures. Future trends in TASM development are:

Threat Capability Trends

Future air and missile threats will become increasingly sophisticated and lethal. The spread of evolving technology has resulted in the development and production of new and improved weapons, especially in the areas of TBMs, CMs, and UAVs, by numerous countries around the world. The availability and possible proliferation of these new systems to irresponsible countries could pose a dangerous threat to the United States and allied forces. These new systems could provide potential enemy nations a variety of employment options that could affect each stage or phase of U.S. operations. The next 20 years should see significant changes in threat air and missile capabilities, as noted in Figure 2-10.

Global Environment

The end of the Cold War has reduced the threat of global nuclear war, but a new threat is rising from the spread of NBC weapons. Hostile groups or nations have tried -- or have been able -- to obtain these weapons, the technology, and homegrown ability to deliver these weapons hundreds of miles away. For rogue nations, these weapons and delivery systems, such as TBMs and CMs, are a ticket to power, stature, and confidence in regional wars. The proliferation of these weapons presents a grave and urgent risk to the United States.

The United States faces several regional challenges, as shown in Figure 2-11. North Korea’s decades-long threat to the security of Northeast Asia, particularly to South Korea and Japan, has become more serious as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is advancing existing nuclear, chemical, and ballistic missile programs with decreasing national leadership stability. In the Middle East and North Africa regions, the United States remains concerned about the threat that Iran, Iraq, and Libya pose to its interests, allies, and friends. Iran, Iraq, and Libya are con-tinuously seeking ways to incorporate WMD and delivery systems into their military forces. In South Asia, the United States has important security interests in maintaining stability in the region and preventing another Indo-Pakistan war. The nuclear and missile programs of India and Pakistan threaten the stability of the region. In the FSU, the vast amount of weapon systems and delivery systems presents an attractive target for determined proliferators, including terrorist and criminal groups. Maintaining control over the accountability, so that the systems or technologies do not end up in the hands of rogue nations, is a daunting challenge to the new governments of the region and to the rest of the international community. Proliferation of former Soviet missiles and NBC technologies could leave U.S. forces facing formidable threats.

Northeast Asia

North Korea. North Korea has significantly improved its NBC and missile programs during the last 10 years. While at least temporarily agreeing to freeze activity and possibly eliminate its existing plutonium production, nuclear reactors and associated facilities, threat experts foresee North Korea maintaining and improving its chemical warfare and ballistic missile capabilities.

North Korea has progressed from producing Scud missiles to establishing a broad-based missile industry, developing and producing a variety of missiles both for its own use and for export. It has a well-established capability to manufacture its own Scud B and C variants and has been able to arm itself with several hundreds of these NBC- capable weapons. It is in the late stages of developing a new missile, the NO DONG. North Korea is also designing two new missile systems, the TAEPO DONG 1 and 2, with expected ranges greater than 1,500 and 4,000 kilometers, respectively. It has provided hundreds of Scud missiles to countries in the Middle East, such as Iran and Syria, and will probably market the NO DONG and TAEPO DONG 1 and 2 missiles.

In addition, North Korea produces two types of ASCM based on the Soviet SS-N-2 Styx technology and the Chinese HY-1 and HY-2 ASCMs. However, it currently lacks an LACM capability. North Korea has produced more than 4,000 multiple rocket launchers (MRL). These MRLs are based on Chinese systems and have ranges from 20 to 43 kilometers. North Korea maintains a limited number of target drones that, in the event of hostilities, might be used as decoy or attack systems.

China. China is deeply involved in the development of ballistic missiles with capabilities that span ranges and payloads from the tactical to the intercontinental. China has developed the following types of ballistic missiles: M-9, M-11 and CSS-8 (SRBM), DF-21 (MRBM), CSS-2 and CSS-3 (intermediate range ballistic missiles [IRBM]), CSS-4 (ICBM), and JL-1 (SLBM). It is aggressively seeking markets for its weapons industry (e.g., China is currently exporting the CSS-8 to Iraq). The transfer of Chinese missile and nuclear technology to potential threat countries will add to the threat facing the United States and its allies.

China maintains a robust MRL inventory, with at least 18 different system types with ranges out to 40 kilometers. China’s eagerness to export these weapons to other potential threat nations makes it likely that they will be used against U.S. forces in other theaters of operations.

The Chinese are also active in cruise missile development, basing this development primarily on the SS-N-2 Styx ASCM provided to them by the Soviets in the late 1950s. The HY-1 (Silkworm) and the HY-2 are the Chinese versions of the Soviet Styx; they are very limited in range and are not considered high-tech systems. In the mid-1980s, China appeared to have reverse-engineered the French Exocet into the C-801 and has exported this system. Although China lacks an LACM capability, it may be developing a long-range, spin-off of its ASCM programs.

The Chinese aerospace industry has been active in the development of UAVs and has reportedly developed new systems. In 1996, China displayed a new UAV, the ASN-206. The ASN-206 is designed to perform a variety of missions, ranging from day/night aerial reconnaissance to battlefield surveillance, and is reportedly available for export.

The Middle East and North Africa

Iran. Iran has placed a high priority on rebuilding its armed forces since its defeat in the Iran-Iraq War of 1988. This rebuilding effort includes the development or acquisition of weapons of mass destruction. Iran has had a biological warfare program since the early 1980s, and it has produced large quantities of chemical agents since 1984. It is attempting to build an indigenous capability to produce nuclear weapons.

In addition, Iran has emphasized the acquisition of power-projection capabilities, missiles, aircraft, and submarines, to oppose intervention by foreign forces during some future conflict. Iran first acquired Scud B missiles from Libya and North Korea and used them during the Iran-Iraq war. Later it received Scud B and C missiles from North Korea and CSS-8 missiles and components from China. As a result of the war with Iraq, Iran is attempting to expand its ballistic missile force. It has launched a two-track missile program, which includes acquiring Scud missiles and missile equipment from North Korea and establishing its own production capability. Ranges of Iranian TBMs appear in Figure 2-12.

Iran has Chinese land-based and shipborne ASCMs and Russian air-to-surface missiles. Iran is expected to continue to rely on China for ASCMs and, when available, LACMs.

Iranian forces field a variety of LCRs and MRLs to support the Iranian Army and the Iranian Republican Guard Corps. The LCRs, ranging in size to 355.6 millimeters, are capable of delivering high explosives or, possibly, chemical weapons.

Iran has a limited UAV capability. It currently operates the Sahahin and the Baz. The Sahahin is a radio-controlled battlefield reconnaissance drone. The Baz is also a radio-controlled drone with a reported attack capability. Iran operates several squadrons of UAVs, and there is concern that it may be developing the UAVs as a means of delivering chemical and biological agents.

Iraq. Despite Iraq’s defeat in the 1991 Gulf War and the severe costs to its military forces and civilian infrastructure, Saddam Hussein’s goal is to establish Iraq as the leading Arab political and military power in the Middle East and dominate the Persian Gulf. Iraq continues to seek the capability to employ weapons of mass destruction. It has had an extensive biological warfare program and has produced several thousand tons of chemical agents since the 1980s, and it continues to pursue a nuclear weapons production capability.

Iraq maintains some of the equipment needed to produce ballistic missiles, even though most of its missile production facilities were damaged in the Gulf War. Today, Iraq focuses its production efforts on developing the Ababel 100 (with a maximum range of 150 kilometers) and the Ababel 50 (a Yugoslav-designed, 50-kilometer range battlefield artillery rocket).

Iraq demonstrated its effective use of ASCMs effectively when it damaged the USS Stark in the Persian Gulf with a French Exocet missile. The Iraqis have a limited number of Chinese (C-801, HY-2, and C-601) and French (Exocet AM-39) ASCMs in their inventory and could be expected to acquire an LACM capability when available. Indigenous development programs have resulted in the FAW family of ASCMs, derived from the Soviet Styx.

Artillery rocket systems have a range of up to 100 kilometers with submunition dispensers. The Laith 90 artillery rocket is a locally built 90-kilometer range version of the Russian FROG-7.

Prior to the Gulf War, Iraq was known to have several developmental UAV programs. However, there is no evidence of full-scale production, and it is assessed that only a few UAVs exist.

Libya. Libya’s operational ballistic missiles include the Scud B, Scud C, and SS-21. The acquisition of an extended range missile, such as the North Korean NO DONG, and the development of an indigenous missile, designed to reach 1,000 kilometers, would give Libya the capability to reach regional adversaries. The 1,000-kilometer range NO DONG would allow Libya to target all of Egypt, much of Algeria, most of Israel, and even Athens and Rome.

Libya is attempting to develop a defense industry for ballistic missiles and WMD. The Libyans appear to have weapon stocks of chemical agents and are conducting low-level research on biological and nuclear weapons. Libya has artillery and tactical rockets, as well as several aircraft that could deliver chemical agents. Additionally, Libya has a limited ASCM and UAV capability.

India and Pakistan

India. India has one of the more self-sufficient missile programs in the developing world and is expected to become self-sufficient in all areas of production by the end of the century. It has the capability to design and build a missile with little foreign assistance. India has two missile programs -- the Prithvi, with a range of 250 kilometers and the Agni, with an approximate range of 2000 kilometers. India also has an ambitious space-launch vehicle program that could easily lead to ICBMs. Currently, India’s most viable delivery vehicles for nuclear or chemical weapons are combat aircraft. Threat experts believe this will change because of India’s ballistic missile programs.

India has a variety of ASCM, MRL and UAV programs. Its ASCM inventory includes the French Exocet, the Soviet SS-N-2 Styx, and the SS-N-7 Starbright. It has also developed the Lakshya, an LACM reportedly derived from a target drone. India has developed a 45-kilometer range 214-millimeter MRL system, designed to "shoot and scoot," with each launcher being provided with its own computerized fire control system. India currently has at least two indigenous UAV programs underway. It is also known to be experimenting with a mini-RPV, which appears similar to the Israeli Mazlat Pioneer system.

Pakistan. Pakistan, like India, has both nuclear weapons and the missiles capable of delivering them. Pakistan has purchased M-11 ballistic missiles from China, and it is also developing its own family of ballistic missiles, the Hatf I, II, and III. The Hatf I and II are based on French technology and are now operational. The Hatf III, still in development, is believed to be based on the Chinese M-9 technology. Pakistan has a limited ASCM capability, consisting primarily of Chinese STYX ASCMs. China is expected to remain Pakistan’s most important supplier of missile-related technology.

Former Soviet Union

The demise of the Soviet Union in December 1991 left vast quantities of Soviet produced weapons, including sophisticated ballistic missiles, aircraft, TASMs, CMs, and rockets, in the inventories of FSU republics. Russia inherited the largest share of weapons, but the Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakstan were also left with extensive inventories. Although Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakstan have stated that they consider the proliferation of weapons a potential threat to their own security, they have exported to threat countries. In addition, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakstan have poor records of safeguarding weapons and nuclear material. Recent events have shown that nuclear material from the FSU is available on the black market and within reach of potential terrorist countries.

Russia is currently the leading developer and exporter of weapons to developing countries, albeit at reduced levels due to its depressed economic condition. As an example, Russia is developing the SS-X-26, an SRBM that will eventually replace the Scud and become a likely export. Russia continues to exhibit a vast array of weapons systems at international airshows, and it has exported an assortment of weapons to numerous countries. Belarus and Ukraine are also involved in the sale and export of weapons systems to potential threat countries.

While the military forces of the FSU republics do not constitute the threat they once represented, the United States cannot ignore them. Russia maintains a large number of tactical and strategic weapons. It has the world’s largest and most advanced chemical warfare program and has a considerable stockpile of nerve, blister, and choking agents. Russia may also be retaining its biological warfare production capability. Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakstan have no known chemical or biological warfare programs.

Numerous ICBMs and submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) remain deployed across the FSU, although many of these are slated for dismantlement and return to Russia. Russia possesses the bulk of the Soviet Union’s ballistic missile industrial base and remains capable of developing and producing the full range of solid and liquid propellant ballistic missiles and associated technologies. Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus have inventories of Scud-B and SS-21 SRBMs. The FSU states also inherited the largest inventory of ASCMs and LACMs in the world. Most of these systems are located in Russian territory.

The FSU’s use of rockets in modern warfare can be traced to the World War II Russian Katyusha (MRL) system. Since then, the Russians have worked to increase the range, caliber, accuracy, and variety of warheads for their rocket systems.

Despite the fact that the FSU began development of UAVs as early as 1950, the use of drones for target and RPV roles is still largely a "gray" area in terms of reliable information. Most of the early FSU systems were adaptations of obsolete full-size aircraft and large missiles. However, lessons of success achieved elsewhere by smaller, dedicated tactical RPVs are influencing the Soviets, and more up-to-date designs are now beginning to enter service.

Russia appears to support nonproliferation. Nevertheless, serious concerns remain regarding Russian security measures and export policies. To date, theft has focused primarily on small arms and military goods that are readily convertible to cash. Uncertainty persists concerning the long-term implications of technology transfers. In addition, the emigration of Russian scientists, engineers, and technicians with experience in NBC weapons and missile development technologies could provide certain countries with access to critical research and production know-how, thereby accelerating their capabilities.

Transnational Threat

Transnational groups, including terrorists, insurgents, opposing factions in civil war, and members of organized criminal groups, are proliferating. Such groups are not generally bound by the same constraints or motivated by the same factors as nation states, and they pose significant threats to the interests of the United States and its allies worldwide.

With numerous ongoing insurgencies and civil wars worldwide, there are additional dangers for escalation should NBC weapons or missiles be introduced to the conflict. Opposing factions in civil wars might get access to missiles and NBC warheads through a variety of means. Such factions might use these weapons as force multipliers to achieve quick and decisive victories. Factions could threaten or actually use the weapons against civilians for either psychological or strategic effect. Tactically, factions could use the weapons against a larger conventional force to disrupt staging or resupply efforts, thus prompting evacuation of noncombatants.

Missile and Space Threat to the United States

Space is the new high ground for operations -- its value is critical to the tactical, operational, and, eventually, strategic levels of warfighting. Despite the end of the Cold War, the threat of accidental, unauthorized, or limited strategic strikes against the United States still exists. ICBMs and SLBMs are a threat to the United States -- they can carry NBC or HE warheads and employ a variety of penetration aids, and their long ranges make them hard to defeat.


The only current ICBM producers are the United States, Russia, and China. Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan -- FSU states -- have ICBMs that they may incorporate into their own arsenals or make available to others. Third World capabilities are expected to evolve in the 21st century through indigenous development and acquisition from current sources. Fixed ICBM launch facilities are easy to target but hard to destroy. Once launched, ICBMs are difficult to defeat. Their targets may be strategic or political, civilian or military. ICBMs will most likely use WMD in multiple reentry vehicles (Figure 2-13).


The United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, and China currently produce SLBMs. Submarine mobility provides launch location options unavailable to ICBM forces and makes detection difficult. Targeting priority will be the same as for ICBMs. The SLBMs provide threat nations the same capabilities as ICBMs with the added advantages of a better hiding capability, shorter times of flight, and depressed reentry angle (Figure 2-14).

Satellite Threat

Satellites have become a major combat multiplier for any nation that has such systems. Satellites provide reconnaissance, surveillance, and worldwide communications capabilities. Many countries already have well-established space programs to support their military forces, and several have taken steps to sell or share military and civil satellite capabilities. Thus, many potential threat nations will have organic space assets to support operations, be able to acquire intelligence information from satellites, or otherwise buy satellite time. Friendly force operations could be detected and disrupted by adversaries’ use of satellite reconnaissance information. Satellite operations will normally support threat theater- and strategic-level planning and operations.


Regional powers continue to emerge throughout the world to threaten nations friendly to the United States and adversely affect U.S. interests. Regional air and missile capabilities are real and threatening. TBMs, CMs, UAVs, helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft, and rockets, employed either singularly or collectively, can have a severe impact on the successful execution of U.S. forces operations across the full operational spectrum. Intercontinental missile and space platform exploitation further exacerbates the situation. With technology explosions and continued proliferation, the threat will grow rather than diminish.

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