Tactical ballistic missile

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). 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,[lower-roman 1] 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

NATO reporting namePropellantRangeIntroductionWithdrawalOriginOperators
Al-Samoud 2 0160 180 km20012003 Iraq
Blue Water 1960 (first flight)cancelled 1962 United Kingdom
MGM-140 ATACMS 0300 300 km19862007 (program terminated, missile remains in service) United States  Bahrain  Greece  Taiwan  South Korea  Turkey  United Arab Emirates
MGM-52 Lance liquid 0120 120 km19721992 United States Belgium  West Germany  Israel  Italy  Netherlands  United Kingdom
PGM-11 Redstone 92.5km-323 km19581964 USA
MGM-18 Lacrosse 19 km19591964 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 km2011 India
Prahaar solid 150 km2011 India
Pragati solid 170 km2013 India
Pralay solid 500 kmTBD India
Ghaznavi (missile) 0320290-320 km2004 Pakistan
Nasr/Hatf IX 006060 km2013 Pakistan
Abdali/Hatf-II 0180180 km2002 Pakistan
Hatf-I 0100 100 km1990 Pakistan
Sky Spear 0300 120-300 km2001 Taiwan
J-600T Yıldırım 0900 150–900 km1998 Turkey
TOROS 0160 100–160 km Turkey
BORA/KHAN 280 km 2017  Turkey
T-300 Kasırga 0120 100-120km Turkey
2K1 MarsFROG-2 Solid 0700 7-18 km Soviet Union
Scud A-DSS-1 Scud liquid 0700 180-700 km1953 Soviet Union
OTR-21 TochkaSS-21 Scarab 0185 70–185 km1975 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 OkaSS-23 Spider 0120 500km19791987 Soviet Union
2K6 LunaFrog-3, Frog-5 0050 10–50 km19601982 Soviet Union  Afghanistan  Algeria  Cuba  East Germany  Egypt  Iraq  Libya  North Korea  Poland  Romania  Soviet Union  Syria  Yemen  Yugoslavia
9K52 Luna-MFrog-7 0050 70 km1964 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 km2008 North Korea
9K720 IskanderSS-26 Stone 0500 400-500 km2006 Russia
Predator Hawk 0500 300 km2016 Israel
KTSSM 0500 120 km2019 South Korea
BRE8 King Dragon/Fire Dragon 0500 280-300 km2014? China

See also


  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
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