THE ISRAELI ICBM JERICHO III

Jericho is a general designation given to a loosely related family of deployed ballistic missiles developed by Israel from the 1960s forward. The name is taken from the first development contract for the Jericho I signed between Israel and Dassault in 1963, with the codename as a reference to the Biblical city of Jericho.

As is true for most Israeli unconventional weapons systems, exact details are highly classified though there is observed test data, public statements by government officials, and details in open literature especially about the Shavit satellite launch vehicle. The later Jericho family development is related to the Shavit and Shavit II space launch vehicles believed to be derivatives of the Jericho II IRBM and which preceded the development of the Jericho III ICBM.

Additional insight into the Jericho program is given by the South African series of missiles which the RSA-3 are believed to be licensed copies of the Jericho II/Shavit and the RSA-4 used part of these systems in their stack with a heavy first stage, after the declaration and disarming of the South African nuclear program the RSA series missiles were offered commercially as satellite launch vehicles where the advertised specifications became part of the public knowledge. The civilian space launch version of the Jericho, the Shavit has been studied in an air launched version piggybacked on a Boeing 747 similar to a US experimental launch of the Minuteman ICBM from a C-5 Galaxy.

It is believed that the Jericho III is a nuclear armed ICBM which entered service in 2011. The Jericho III is believed to have a three-stage solid propellant and a payload of 1,000 to 1,300 kg. It is possible for the missile to be equipped with a single 750 kg nuclear warhead or two or three low yield MIRV warheads. It has an estimated launch weight of 30,000 kg and a length of 15.5 m with a width of 1.56 m. It may be similar to an upgraded and re-designed Shavit space launch vehicle, produced by Israel Aerospace Industries. It probably has longer first and second-stage motors. It is estimated by missilethreat.com that it has a range of 4,800 to 6,500 km (2,982 to 4,038 miles), though a 2004 missile proliferation survey by the Congressional Research Service put its possible maximum range at 11,500 km.

According to an official report which was submitted to the American congress in 2004, it may be that with a payload of 1,000 kg the Jericho III gives Israel nuclear strike capabilities within the entire Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia and almost all parts of North America, as well as large parts of South America and North Oceania. Missile Threat reports: “The range of the Jericho III also provides an extremely high impact speed for nearby targets, enabling it to avoid any Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) defenses that may develop in the immediate region.” On 17 January 2008 Israel test fired a multi-stage ballistic missile believed to be of the Jericho III type, reportedly capable of carrying “conventional or non-conventional warheads.” On 2 November 2011, Israel successfully test fired a missile believed to be an upgraded version of the Jericho III at Palmachim; the long trail of smoke was seen throughout central Israel. Israel’s intercontinental ballistic missile launchers are believed to be buried so far underground that they would survive a nuclear attack.

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Israel also has short range precision guided ballistic missiles like the LORA with a range of 300 km, it flies at altitude of 50 km, above that of the S-400 for instance, with speed of 6 mach (faster than the S-400) and has a maneuvering warhead, meaning it’s almost impossible to intercept for the S-400 from any aspect, it carries ~600 kg warhead and hits its target with precision better than 10 meters.

Israel also has many other types of missile. Like air to air or anti ship missiles (as well as anti anti ship missiles like Barak 8 which can intercept even mighty anti ship missiles like the Russian Yakhont), air launched cruise missiles. And air defense or anti missiles and anti satellites missiles. One of them is the Arrow-III that is meant to precisely hit all types of ballistic missiles with success rate of >90%. This is a good testament for missile technology.

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