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Jericho missile

Jericho is a general designation given to the Israeli medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBM). The name is taken from the first development contract signed between Israel and Dassault in 1963. Like much connected to the nuclear weapons program of Israel exact details are difficult to find in the public domain.

Jericho I was first publically identified as an operational system in late 1971. It was 13.4 m long, 0.8 m in diameter, weighing 6.5 tons. It had a range of 500 km and a CEP of 1,000 m, and it could carry a payload estimated at 400 kg. It was intended to carry a nuclear warhead. Initial development was in conjunction with France, Dassault provided various missile systems from 1963 and a type designated MD-620 was test fired in 1965. But French co-operation was halted by an arms embargo from January 1968. Work was continued by IAI at the Beit Zachariah facility and the program cost almost $1 billion up to 1980. Despite guidance problems it is believed that around 100 missiles of this type were produced.

The sytem was updated from around 1985, it was identified as the Jericho II, a solid fuel, 13 ton, two-stage system. There were a series of test launches into the Mediterranean from 1987 to 1992, the longest at around 1,300 km, mostly from the facility at Palmahim, south of Tel Aviv. Again, the qualities of the sytem are unclear but it is considered by some sources as equivalent to the US MGM-31 Pershing, the American government having provided considerable technical assistance to the Israelis in the 1970s.

It has been proposed that the Jericho II forms the basis of the three-stage, 23 ton Shavit NEXT satellite launcher (similar to the South African RSA-3), first launched in 1988 from Palmachim. From the performance of Shavit it has been estimated that as a ballistic missile it has a maximum range of about 4,500 km with a limited 250 kg payload.

It has been claimed that Jericho IIb or Jericho III systems also exist or are in development.

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