R-17 Elbrus
An R-17 missile at the Muzeum Uzbrojenia (Museum of Armament), Poznań, Poland (2004)
TypeShort-range ballistic missile
Place of originUSSR
Service history
In service1964–present
WarsIran–Iraq War, Yom Kippur War,[1] Soviet–Afghan War, Libyan Civil War, Gulf War, 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
Production history
DesignerViktor Makeyev
Mass5,800 kg (12,800 lb)
Length11,200 mm (36.7 ft)
Diameter880 mm (2.89 ft)

Accuracy450–900 m (CEP)

The R-17 Elbrus (Russian: Р-17, 9К72 «Эльбрус», named for Mount Elbrus),[2] GRAU index 9K72 is a tactical ballistic missile, initially developed by the Soviet Union. It is also known by its NATO reporting name SS-1C Scud-B. It is one of several Soviet missiles to carry the reporting name Scud; the most prolifically launched of the series, with a production run estimated at 7,000 (1960–1987). Also designated R-300 during the 1970s, the R-17 was derived from the R-11 Zemlya. It has been operated by 32 countries and manufactured in four countries outside the Soviet Union. It is still in service with some. It's been called the Hwasong-5 in North Korea.[3]


The first mock-up was designed and built by Makeyev in 1958–1959, before the programme was transferred to the Votkinsk Machine Building Plant in 1959 for mass production. The first launch was conducted in 1961, and it entered service in 1964.[4]

The rear section of an 8K14 missile, showing the fixed fins and the graphite vanes that control the missile's path.
R-17 on reload transport trailer with ZIL-131 tractor


The R-17 featured important improvements over the R-11. The Isayev RD-21 engine used a combination of inhibited red fuming nitric acid (IRFNA) oxidiser and unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH) fuel, fed into the combustion chamber by fuel pumps that ensured a more consistent thrust. The guidance system, active only during the boosted phase, uses three gyroscopes, that give it a Circular error probable (CEP) of 450 m[5] (900 m according to western sources[6]). A nuclear warhead was designed for the R-17, with a selectable yield, from 5 to 70 kilotons. However it could also carry a chemical warhead, containing 555 kg of viscous VX; a conventional weapon, with a single high explosive warhead; or a series of fragmentation payloads, using either high explosive, anti-tank or anti-runway munitions.[5]

MAZ-543 Uragan carrying a 9K72 Elbrus

At first, the R-17 was carried on a tracked TEL similar to that of the R-11, designated 2P19, but this was not very successful, as the vibration of the tracks had a tendency to interfere with the launch electronics. Production of this model was halted after Khrushchev cancelled the production of heavy tanks in 1962, and a wheeled launcher was designed by the Titan Central Design Bureau, becoming operational in 1967.[7] The new MAZ-543 vehicle was officially designated 9P117 Uragan, and its Russian crews nicknamed it Kashalot (sperm whale), because of its size.[8] The eight-wheeled MAZ-543 has a loaded weight of 37,400 kg, a road speed of 55 km/h and a range of 650 km. It can carry out the launch sequence autonomously, but this is usually directed from a separate command vehicle. The missile is raised to a vertical position by means of hydraulically powered cranes, which usually takes four minutes, while the total sequence lasts about one hour.[5]


This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (January 2021) (Learn how and when to remove this message)

The units of the R-17 theater ballistic missile were organized with the following vehicles:

Combat use

Libya – It has been rumoured that R-17s were fired by loyalist forces against rebels in the 2011 Libyan civil war during the first phase of the war.[9] On 14 August 2011 a confirmed R-17 launch was detected by a US Aegis destroyer, with the missile fired from Sirte and heading toward rebel positions in Ajdabiya. The missile fell 80 km off target in the middle of the desert, inflicting no damage.[10] Eight days later, on August 22, three more R-17 launches were detected by NATO.[11]


See also


  1. ^ a b Zak, Anatoly. "R-17". RussianSpaceWeb.com. Archived from the original on 2015-02-25. Retrieved 2014-05-26.
  2. ^ "Soviet/Russian Missile Designations". Johnston's Archive. Archived from the original on 2008-10-08. Retrieved 2008-11-22.
  3. ^ "North Korean Missile Designations". GlobalSecurity.org. Archived from the original on 2017-08-19. Retrieved 2019-07-21.
  4. ^ Wade, Mark. "R-17". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Archived from the original on 2008-02-19. Retrieved 2008-02-13.
  5. ^ a b c "SS-1 'Scud' (R-11/8K11, R-11FM (SS-N-1B) and R-17/8K14)". Jane's Information Group. 26 April 2001. Archived from the original on 15 December 2007. Retrieved 2008-02-12.
  6. ^ "R-11/SS-1B SCUD-A R-300 9K72 Elbrus/SS-1C SCUD-B". Federation of American Scientists. September 9, 2000. Archived from the original on March 7, 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-21.
  7. ^ Zaloga, pp. 14–15
  8. ^ Zaloga, p. 17
  9. ^ Gilligan, Andrew (2011-05-08). "The forgotten frontline in Libya's civil war". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 2018-04-18. Retrieved 2019-07-21.
  10. ^ McElroy, Damien (2011-08-16). "Gaddafi fires Scud missile at rebel forces". The Independent. Archived from the original on 3 November 2012. Retrieved 19 September 2011.
  11. ^ "NATO says Gaddafi forces fire three Scud-type rockets". Reuters. 2011-08-22. Archived from the original on 2015-09-24. Retrieved 2019-07-21.
  12. ^ Krebs, Gunter Dirk. "Soviet Ballistic Missiles". Gunter's Space Page. Archived from the original on 2014-05-27. Retrieved 2014-05-26.
  13. ^ "Баллистические ракеты России" [Russian Ballistic Missiles]. InBSite.com. Archived from the original on 2013-03-31. Retrieved 2015-09-14.