India develops new tactical missile 'Pragati'
Press Trust of India | Updated: October 29, 2013 19:06 IST
New Delhi: India has developed a new tactical surface-to-surface missile 'Pragati' with a range between 60-170 km and will offer it to friendly countries.
The new missile, now on display at a defence exhibition in South Korea, is based on the Prahaar missile developed by the DRDO for the Army and can be termed as its export variant with minor differences, a DRDO official said today.
The government has approved that it may be offered to friendly countries if anyone shows interest in it, he said.
The missile is the main exhibit of the DRDO which is showcasing an array of indigenous weapons at the Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition (ADEX 2013).
This is the first time ever that an array of latest defence equipment developed by the DRDO, will be unveiled internationally at such a scale. DRDO chief Avinash Chander is leading the Indian delegation at the show.
"DRDO is showcasing 'Pragati' tactical missile, 'Akash' missile system and 'Tejas' LCA and its variants. Explosive Detection Kit developed by the DRDO and recently launched in the US will be yet another key exhibit," a release by the Indian embassy in South Korea said.
The LCA is a long-delayed project of the DRDO which is yet to be completed and the aircraft not been inducted by the IAF so far.
ADEX 2013 is expected to host more than 300 companies from 33 countries. DRDO's participation also commemorates the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and South Korea.
Russia Test-Fires Range Of Nuclear-capable Missiles
Oct. 30, 2013 - 03:41PM | By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Russia on Wednesday test-fired a series of short- and long-range nuclear-capable missiles, including a Topol missile seen here in May, as part of a check of the readiness of its massive Soviet-era force. (Kirill Kudryavtsev / Getty Images)
MOSCOW — Russia on Wednesday test-fired a series of short- and long-range nuclear-capable missiles as part of an unannounced check of the readiness of its massive Soviet-era force.
The defense ministry said several ballistic missiles were successfully launched from the Bryansk and Svyatoy Georgy Pobedonosets submarines stationed in the Barents and Okhotsk Seas.
The ground-based strategic forces also fired one Topol and one Voyevod intercontinental ballistic missile from positions in northern and central Russia.
A military spokesman told Interfax that both missiles hit their assigned targets on the Russian Far East’s Kamchatka Peninsula.
The country’s armed forces also test-fired four Iskander and Tochka-U short-range rockets as well as about 15 S-300 and S-400 air defense missiles that Russia’s produces primarily for export.
Russia is the only country in the world to still fire intercontinental ballistic missiles at specific targets as part of periodic tests.
Most of the launches are performed to either ensure the safety of Russia’s aging arsenal or to test new rockets that could penetrate a missile defense system now gradually being deployed by NATO in Europe.
More on the Pragati missile..............
October 30, 2013 at 11:52
India Offers the Pragati Short Range Missile for Export
Posted by News Desk
India’s Defence Research establishment (DRDO) is promoting an indigenously developed short range ballistic missile called Pragati, designed to strike targets at ranges of 60 – 170 kilometers. The new missile meets the limitations of Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) limiting the export of missile technology carrying warheads heavier than half a ton beyond 300 kilometers. As such, it is positioned to compete with a number of similar weapons already available from the China, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Russia and the USA.
It is based on the Prahaar missile, developed by the DRDO for the Indian Army and is considered as the export variant of that missile. Although India has been promoting the Brahmos supersonic cruise missile for export, Pragati will be the first ballistic missile offered for export. The first international appearance of the missile was this week at the ADEX defense expo in Seoul.
The new missile measures 7.4 meters (24′, 3″) and 0.42 meter (16.5″) in diameter, it carries a conventional warhead weighing up to 200 kg. The Pragati missile uses solid propellant and is launched from a Mobile Launcher System (MLS). 2-6 missiles are carried by each vehicle (depending on the configuration). The system is designed for quick reaction, enabling a second missile launch five seconds after the first has cleared the rail. The Indian missile Prahaar was tested in 2011 striking a target at a range of 150 km with a precision of 10 meters.
At a maximum speed of 4 Mach the flight time would be 120 – 360 seconds. The missile uses a combination of thrust vectoring and aerodynamic control to stabilize its ascent and shape flight trajectory to achieve a circular error point (CEP) hit probability of ‘less than 20 meters’. For guidance, Pragati uses a combination of Ring Laser Gyro (RLG) based inertial navigation system assisted by global positioning navigation (GPS) reference.
The missile system has quick deployment with salvo firing capability. The system includes One Battery Control Center (BCC) command & Control four launch units connected via Fiber Optic/LOS wireless link. The MLS is configured on High Mobility Vehicles (HMV) with six, four or three axles, depending on the weight and number of launchers used (six, four or two canisterised missiles respectively. The MLS has an electro-mechanical auto-leveling and articulation system enabling quick positioning of the system.
Prahar launch vehicle carrying six missiles shown on the independence day march in New Delhi.
Experts: Missile Test Firing Shows Development Complete
Nov. 6, 2013 - 06:07PM | By USMAN ANSARI
Pakistan's army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani was onhand to witness the test of Pakistan's Hatf-IX/Vengeance-IX missile, otherwise known as 'Nasr,' on Oct. 5. (Aamir Qureshi / Getty Images)
ISLAMABAD — The Oct. 5 test of Pakistan’s Hatf-IX/Vengeance-IX missile, otherwise known as ‘Nasr,’ shows its development has been completed and the command-and-control systems are in place, allowing it to be deployed, say analysts.
A press release by the military’s Inter Service Public Relations (ISPR) media branch stated the successful test was “conducted with successive launches of 4 x missiles (salvo) from a state of the art multi tube launcher.”
Nasr is a mobile, quick-reaction, four-round weapon system capable of delivering its nuclear-armed, short-range ballistic missiles up to 60 kilometers.
The test was witnessed by the Chief of the Army Staff, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani; the director general of the Strategic Plans Division (which handles all aspects of the non-conventional program) Lt. Gen Khalid Ahmad Kidwai; and the chairman of the National Engineering and Scientific Commission (which designed the Nasr missile system), Muhammad Irfan Burney.
Mansoor Ahmed from Quaid-e-Azam University’s Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, who specializes in Pakistan’s national deterrent and delivery program, says the test signified the commitment to enhancing the Nasr’s effectiveness, but that two aspects stand out.
“It was the second test of a salvo fired from a four-round launcher, and its in-flight maneuver capability is being improved to defeat potential Indian missile defenses against artillery rockets and short-range ballistic missiles, such as the Israeli Iron Dome system,” he said.
Ahmed said this means Nasr has “passed the initial R&D phase and has been accepted and possibly been inducted into service by the Pakistan Army’s Strategic Forces.”
The ISPR statement’s mention of full-spectrum deterrence at tactical and strategic level, Ahmed believes, means the Nasr missile system has been “fully integrated into the centralized command-and-control structure through round the clock situational awareness in a digitized network centric environment to decision makers at National Command Center.”
Nasr is obviously India-specific, he said, and the salvo launch capability is a key ability in stopping Indian armored thrusts into Pakistani territory.
“The salvo launch demonstrates that Pakistan is steadily improving its counterforce capabilities against Indian armored thrusts as part of the Indian ‘Cold Start’ doctrine with the option of using low-yield, boosted fission, plutonium warheads in the possible range of 0.5 to 5 kilotons in case of a breakdown of conventional defenses,” he said.
It also “implies Pakistan has fully integrated the concept,and procedures to employ tactical nuclear weapons when, and if, required against the enemy, as part of its flexible force posture in the face of emerging and evolving threats,” says Ahmed.
Pakistan’s switch to the production of plutonium and stockpiling fissile material has been very topical, and Ahmed says the test show “Pakistan appears to have increased confidence in continuing to build sophisticated, miniaturized warheads for the Nasr missiles.
“Such tests are also designed re-enforce the message that Pakistan’s capabilities to produce miniaturized warheads for battlefield nuclear weapons have progressively matured,” Ahmed added.
However, Ahmed points out that “tactical nuclear weapons used to supplement conventional defenses would be only employed in case of deterrence failure.”
Given a paucity of funds as a result of Pakistan’s economic downturn, much of the military’s modernization plans have been postponed or even abandoned.
If the development of Nasr is complete, and if there are no other major non-conventional related programs in need of funds, it could mean finances could be freed up for conventional programs.
Analyst Haris Khan of the Pakistan Military Consortium think tank said Nasr’s development has not yet finished. However, there nevertheless could be some movement in bringing the conventional modernization programs back on track.
He highlights the Army’s tank fleet, which has seen mixed fortunes. The T-80UD upgrade appears to have been postponed, but further development of the Al-Khalid MBT has continued and development of the Al-Khalid II is nearing completion.
“The Al-Khalid II is to be equipped with a Chinese 1,200 HP diesel engine with a German or South Korean gear box, and the Army has also evaluated the Ukrainian Kombat tandem-warhead gun fired anti-tank guided missile,” he said.
Generally however, the government has recently released a small amount of “much needed procurement funds for all three services” that should keep their modernization/procurement programs alive until the economy can improve further allowing for deals to be finalized.
“The Army is exploring acquiring a new wheeled APC [the Serbian Lazar 2], a general utility helicopter, and an attack helicopter from Turkey or the USA. The Navy is hoping to finalize a deal to manufacture four more improved F-22P frigates plus, if enough funds are available, new subs from China and/or Germany.
“The Air Force, on the other hand, hopes to acquire more F-16s, seal a deal for J-10 aircraft from China, and more transport aircraft, plus a new SAM system also from China”, he said.
One last bit on PRAGATI................
India Unveils Shorter-Range Pragati
Nov. 18, 2013 - 09:49AM | By VIVEK RAGHUVANSHI
Prithvi-1 Replacement: India's Pragati surface-to-surface tactical missile system is displayed at the Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition in Goyang, north of Seoul, on Oct. 28. (JUNG YEON-JE/AFP)
NEW DELHI — India will replace its tactical ballistic missile Prithvi-1 with a shorter-range missile, the Pragati, which was displayed for the first time at the KINTEX Seoul defense show, Indian Army sources said.
Unlike the Prithvi-I, which is propelled by liquid fuel, the Pragati is a solid-fuel missile with a shorter range of between 70 and 170 kilometers. It helps fill the gap created by the delay in the purchase of 155mm/52 caliber guns, said the Army source.
The Army had been demanding a solid-fueled missile in place of the Prithvi-I missile since its induction in 1994. The Prithvi-I was cumbersome to move, maintain and deploy, the source added.
Capable of firing in a salvo, Pragati can be launched within two to three minutes of preparation time, a much quicker reaction than the Prithvi-I, which requires at least half an hour. The Prithvi-I missile still can be used for longer-range engagement, the source said.
The vehicle-mounted Pragati will fill the firing gap between the homegrown Pinaka multibarrel rocket launcher, with a range of 40 kilometers, and the Prithvi-I missile with a range of 150 kilometers, the source said.
Comparing the missile to the Lockheed Martin Army Tactical Missile System, a scientist at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) said they developed the Pragati in response to the Nasr short-range missile produced by Pakistan.
Admitting that the Army needs short-range missiles, the DRDO scientist said the Prithvi has advanced guidance systems and has been tested several times. Its variants are inducted in the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force, claimed the DRDO scientist.
The scientist, however, would not comment on Pragati’s ability to carry a nuclear warhead. Pakistan has claimed that its Nasr short-range missile can carry a nuclear weapon.
Mahindra Singh, a retired Army brigadier general, said the military would be able to strike more targets with greater accuracy with the Pragati rather than depending on the less accurate Prithvi, which would require a greater amount of explosives.
Russia: Missiles Deployed In West 'Legitimate'
(Source: Radio Free Europe; issued December 16, 2013)
Russia's Defense Ministry has said the deployment of short-range missiles in the western part of the country does not violate any international agreements.
The ministry statement came in response to a report in the German daily "Bild" that said the missiles were deployed in Russia's westernmost Kaliningrad exclave wedged between NATO members Poland and Lithuania.
Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov did not specify where exactly the Iskander missiles are stationed.
The advanced version of the nuclear-capable Iskander missiles has a range of 500 kilometers.
Russia has long threatened to deploy the missiles in the Kaliningrad region as a countermeasure to a planned U.S. missile-defense system.
The Polish Foreign Ministry, as well as the defense ministers of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia voiced alarm over the reported deployment.
The U.S. State Department also expressed concern over the report.
Spokeswoman Marie Harf said Washington had urged Moscow not to destabilize the region.
In a related development, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu on December 16 that a preliminary nuclear deal with Iran "does not eliminate the need" for the shield.
According to the Pentagon, Hagel stressed the plannes shield poses no threat to Russia.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has argued the a deal with Tehran to curb its nuclear program would make the NATO shield unnecessary
Russian Missile Forces to Field New Heavy Missile by 2020 – Commander
MOSCOW, December 17 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s Strategic Missile Force will deploy a new heavy intercontinental ballistic missile no later than 2020, its commander said on Tuesday.
“We are counting on introducing into the armory by 2018-2020 at the outside a new missile system with specifications not inferior to its predecessor,” Lt. Gen. Sergei Karakaev said.
The new silo-based Sarmat ICBM will replace the world’s most powerful nuclear missile, the twenty-five-year-old R-36M2 (SS-18 Satan).
Sarmat is expected to feature advanced countermeasures to enable it to penetrate missile defenses including a complex command and control system and a high degree of maneuverability, he said.
The new system is just one of a number that will totally replace Soviet-era missiles by 2021, he said.
“New hardware is arriving on time and by 2018 more than 80 percent of Russia’s strategic missile force will be comprised of the latest weapons,” Karakaev said.
By 2018, Russian nuclear forces will be limited to 1,550 warheads and 700 total deployed strategic nuclear delivery systems including long-range missiles and bombers as part of the New START treaty signed with the United States in 2011.
Karakaev called that number “necessary and sufficient” to maintain strategic nuclear parity with the US and other nuclear states.
Commenting on the United States’ nuclear arsenal, Karakaev claimed “their reduction in numbers is compensated for by upgrades of their missiles and the delivery systems of the entire strategic triad, giving them new technological capabilities.”
The new missiles are part of a $700 billion procurement plan for the Russian Armed Forces in the period to 2020.
Russia Plans Rail-Mounted Missiles to Counter US Global Strike Program
(Source: RIA Novosti; published Dec. 18, 2013)
MOSCOW --- Russia will draft a plan in the coming year to deploy rail-mounted nuclear missiles as a potential response to the United States’ Prompt Global Strike program, the commander of its Strategic Missile Force said on Wednesday.
“A Defense Ministry report has been submitted to the president and the order has been given to develop a preliminary design of a rail-mounted missile system,” Lt. Gen. Sergei Karakaev said.
The work will be carried out by the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology – the developer of the submarine-launched Bulava nuclear missile – in the first half of next year.
Karakaev added that defense officials, after analyzing the American system, concluded “there is a need to reconsider the issue of a rail-mounted missile system given its increased survivability and the extent of our railway network.”
The rail weapons plan appears to be a response to a US program known as Prompt Global Strike that includes development of long-range missiles with conventional explosives in place of nuclear warheads. The United States says the program would increase the options available in responding to high-priority threats around the globe. A high-speed, high-altitude drone has also been considered as part of the program.
Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who oversees the defense industry, a week ago called the program “the most important new strategy being developed by the United States today” and warned that American leaders “must bear in mind, that if we are attacked, in certain circumstances we will of course respond with nuclear weapons.”
Rogozin has recently championed Russian efforts to develop hypersonic air-launched weapons as a counterpart to similar US developments likely to be part of Prompt Global Strike.
The US abandoned plans for a rapid global strike capability under President George W. Bush over concerns that the weapons risked triggering an accidental nuclear war.
Unlike silo-based nuclear missiles, the location of rail-mounted missiles can be kept hidden and camouflaged amidst commercial rail traffic. The last of the Soviet-era SS-24 Scalpel rail-based nuclear missiles was decommissioned in 2005.
Russia insists that long-range missiles with conventional warheads must count towards the quota of nuclear delivery systems imposed by the New START treaty signed by Russia and the United States in 2011.
New START does not prohibit the development of rail-based missiles. (ends)
Testing of India's Agni IV Missile Advances
Jan. 20, 2014 - 12:51PM | By VIVEK RAGHUVANSHI
India tested its 4,000-kilometer-range Agni IV missile today. (Indian Defence Ministry)
NEW DELHI — India’s flight test of its indigenous nuclear-capable Agni IV missile today could pave the way for user trials, according to the Ministry of Defence.
The surface-to-surface ballistic missile, with a range of 4,000 kilometers, can carry a warhead of up to 1 ton and is equipped with a re-entry heat shield, said a scientist at the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), which is developing the missile. The two-stage, solid-propelled missile is 20 meters tall.
“The Agni IV missile propelled by composite solid fuel rocket motor technology was launched from its road mobile launcher indigenously developed by DRDO. The long range radars and Electro-Optical Tracking Systems located all along the coast have tracked and monitored all the parameters throughout the flight. Two ships located near the target point tracked the vehicle and witnessed the final event,” according to a Defence Ministry statement.
The missile is equipped with state-of-the-art avionics, a fifth-generation onboard computer and distributed architecture, and has features to correct and guide itself for inflight disturbances, according to the Defence Ministry statement.
The missile is equipped with a ring laser gyro-based inertial navigation system and supported by a redundant micronavigation system, according to the statement.
The re-entry heat shield withstood temperatures in the range of 4,000 degrees centigrade, protecting the avionics within, said the statement. ■
Exclusive: CIA Helped Saudis in Secret Chinese Missile Deal
By Jeff Stein
Filed: 1/29/14 at 12:53 PM | Updated: 1/29/14 at 6:03 PM
The spy agency held secret meetings with Saudi air force officers, overseeing the technical details of the kingdom’s purchase of East Wind ballistic missiles Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters
Saudi Arabia has long been a backroom player in the Middle East's nuclear game of thrones, apparently content to bankroll the ambitions of Pakistan and Iraq (under Saddam Hussein) to counter the rise of its mortal enemy, Iran.
But as the West and Iran have moved closer to a nuclear accommodation, signs are emerging that the monarchy is ready to give the world a peek at a new missile strike force of its own - which has been upgraded with Washington's careful connivance.
According to a well-placed intelligence source, Saudi Arabia bought ballistic missiles from China in 2007 in a hitherto unreported deal that won Washington's quiet approval on the condition that CIA technical experts could verify they were not designed to carry nuclear warheads.
The solid-fueled, medium-range DF-21 East Wind missiles are an improvement over the DF-3s the Saudis clandestinely acquired from China in 1988, experts say, although they differ on how much of an upgrade they were.
The newer missiles, known as CSS-5s in NATO parlance, have a shorter range but greater accuracy, making them more useful against "high-value targets in Tehran, like presidential palaces or supreme-leader palaces," Jeffrey Lewis, director of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, tells Newsweek. They can also be fired much more quickly.
The poor accuracy of the old DF-3s rendered them impotent during the first Gulf War as a counterstrike to Saddam Hussein's Scuds, according to Desert Warrior, a 1996 memoir by Saudi Prince Khaled bin Sultan, then-commander of the Riyadh's Air Defense Forces. King Fahd declined to fling them at Iraq because the likely result would have been mass civilian casualties, and "the coalition's air campaign being waged against Iraq was sufficient retaliation," Khaled wrote.
When that war ended, the Saudis went looking for something better. In China, they likely found it. But unlike in 1988, when they royally annoyed Washington with their secret acquisition of DF-3s, this time they decided to play nice. And the CIA was their assigned playmate.
CIA and Saudi air force officers hammered out the ways and means for acquiring the new Chinese missiles during a series of secretive meetings at the spy agency's Langley, Va., headquarters and over dinners at restaurants in northern Virginia during the spring and summer of 2007, a well-informed source tells Newsweek. The arrangements were so sensitive that then-deputy CIA director Stephen Kappes ordered the CIA's logistical costs, estimated at $600,000 to $700,000 buried under a vague "ops support" heading in internal budget documents - prompting loud complaints from the head of the agency's support staff.
Aside from technical personnel, among the few CIA officials let in on the deal were the agency's then-number three, Associate Deputy Director Michael Morrell, a longtime Asia hand; John Kringen, then-head of the agency's intelligence directorate; and the CIA's Riyadh station chief, who Newsweek is not identifying because he remains undercover. Two analysts subsequently traveled to Saudi Arabia, inspected the crates and returned satisfied that the missiles were not designed to carry nukes, says the source, who asked for anonymity in exchange for discussing the still-secret deal.
The CIA declined to comment, as did current and former White House officials. The Chinese and Saudi embassies in Washington did not respond to requests for comment.
Reports that the Saudis have upgraded their missile fleet, however, are not new. Former CIA analyst Jonathan Scherck, for example, who managed intelligence reports on Saudi Arabia as a contractor from 2005 to 2007, claimed in Patriot Lost, an unauthorized 2010 book, that China began supplying a "turnkey nuclear ballistic missile system" to the kingdom with the covert approval of the George W. Bush administration, "no later than December 2003."
Lewis discounts Scherck's "nuclear" claim, which Scherck says he based on reports he saw from CIA spies and technical collection systems.
Kenneth Pollack, a former CIA and White House National Security Council expert on the Middle East, also dismisses Scherck's nuclear scenario, as well as recent claims by the BBC and Time magazine - citing a former head of Israeli military intelligence - that the Saudis had placed Pakistani nuclear warheads "on order."
"Nonsense and disinformation," he told Newsweek.
But Lewis says that other small but important details in Patriot Lost checked out. "One can raise a number of questions about the logic in Scherck's book - particularly when he starts imagining Pakistani warheads on those Chinese missiles or accusing Bush administration officials of various crimes," Lewis explains, "but when Scherck sticks to the details about monitoring foreign missile shipments and deployments, he's believable."
An engineer on a U.S. Navy guided missile cruiser before joining the CIA, Scherck was fired in 2008 for pursuing details out of channels at the National Geospatial Agency, the satellite imagery service helmed then by James Clapper, now director of National Intelligence. Then the Justice Department pounced on Scherck, seizing the modest revenues from his self-published book and prohibiting him from writing or talking further about the matter. Now 39, Scherck works as a night manager of a hotel in Southern California while he works on a screenplay.
Meanwhile, the Saudis have been acting like they want people to take notice of their previously furtive missile program.
"Over the past few years, Saudi Arabia has started talking a lot about its Strategic Missile Force," Lewis writes in the draft of an upcoming piece for Foreign Policy that he showed Newsweek. "And, in the course of doing so, Riyadh seems to be hinting that it has bought at least two new types of ballistic missiles."
"For example," Lewis writes, "in 2010, Khaled - by then deputy defense minister - cut the ribbon on a new headquarters building in Riyadh for the Strategic Missile Force. They released a number of images of the building, both inside and out. Moreover, since about 2007, the Saudi press has covered graduation ceremonies from the Strategic Missile Force school in Wadi ad-Dawasir - especially if the commencement speaker is a person of importance.
"The process of recruiting Saudis has also resulted in fair amount of information appearing in print, right down to the pay schedule," he added. "For a while, the Strategic Missile Force even had a website, although it is no longer active."
The most intriguing photo to appear so far, showed "Khaled's replacement - the recently removed deputy minister of defense Prince Fahd - visiting the Strategic Missile Force headquarters in Riyadh," Lewis writes. Instead of gifting him with the usual "solid-gold falcon in a glass case... the stuff dreams are made of," Lewis cracks, officials are shown posing with a glass-enclosed case of three missile models.
"The missile on the far left is, obviously, a DF-3 of the sort that Saudi Arabia purchased from China in the late 1980s," Lewis writes. "But the other two? They could any one of Chinese or Pakistani missiles. All the missiles Lewis mentions are nuclear-capable.
Again, the unprecedented missiles-and-pony show could be a deception. In any case, the Saudis are banging the drums around their missile bases - without any apparent notice here, Lewis says, probably because it's all in Arabic.
The local Saudi press has been covering blood drives and disaster relief efforts by personnel at known missile bases, Lewis tells Newsweek. And while officials have been secretive about another missile base, he's discovered that "people on Arabic bulletin boards have big mouths.
"Turns out, if you're a Saudi assigned to a launch unit," he says, "the most natural thing in the world is to announce on a bulletin board, 'Hi, I work for the Saudi missile force, and I've been assigned to this place, and where can I get an apartment?' And people openly talk about their deployments in a way that Saudi officials would freak if they realized it."
Maybe. But you can't scare people if nobody knows what you got. Maybe the Saudis are suddenly trying to get attention. They've faced the deterrence dilemma before.
In late 1988, Khaled recalled in his memoir, he worried that nobody had detected the deployment of the secretly acquired Chinese DF-3s. What good was having them if nobody was afraid of them? He suggested leaking their existence, "as the object of acquiring the weapon would not have been achieved" unless the world (read: Iranians and Israelis) knew about it. "As it happened," he wrote in Desert Warrior, "we had no need to do so, because the Americans broke the news first." And they were in a king's rage about it.
But what about the 2007 Chinese missile deal Newsweek was told about? No one seems to have noticed that, either.
But they may now.
Important note: Those DF-21s - or whatever they are - don't dramatically tilt the Middle East map in the Saudis' favor.
"Even if it is the case that Saudi Arabia received DF-21 missiles, unless they also received nuclear warheads for the missiles, it has little meaning for the regional military balance," Pollack told Newsweek.
"Saudi Arabia has had Chinese ballistic missiles since the 1980s, and the DF-21 has a shorter range than the CSS-2s they originally bought. A conventional warhead on the DF-21 would be too small to cause the kind of damage that would have a strategic impact. Even if the Chinese had sold Saudis the mod-4 warhead for the DF-21 - which theoretically can cripple an aircraft carrier - the Saudis lack the sensor technology to find an aircraft carrier, except when one is docked at Port Jebel Ali in the UAE, Saudi Arabia's close ally."
Lewis agrees - with caveats. When you're talking nukes and missiles, you always have to factor in the weird stuff, like Kissinger whispering to Hanoi that Nixon was bonkers over Vietnam and would slap the armageddon button if pushed too far - the so-called "madman theory."
"It has its advantages, it definitely has its advantages," Lewis says of the new Saudi missiles deal, if only because some of those missiles could have been modified to carry nuclear warheads after CIA technicians left. "But I don't know if I were an Iranian I would feel fundamentally different about the DF 21s than I did about the DF-3.... "
He adds, "Maybe there's a whole gut, or visceral, thing, where they" - the Iranians - "say, 'Hey, these guys spent a lot of money, they're serious.' So maybe it just conveys the Saudis' will in a way that is unsettling, in a way that the fine old missile system wasn't.
"It's a weird thing. It has its own, strange logic. So yeah, it makes a difference. But it's not a difference-maker."
Newsweek Contributing Editor Jeff Stein writes the SpyTalk column from Washington.