The middle of the last century was an extremely difficult and difficult period in the history of the Middle East. The formation of the State of Israel seriously changed the political and military situation in the region, and also created the preconditions for wars and confrontations that continue to this day. The essence of all these conflicts boiled down and boils down to the confrontation between Israel and the Arab states. One of the main opponents of Israel was Egypt (including as part of the United Arab Republic). Political confrontation, reaching up to armed clashes, forced both countries to modernize their armed forces and engage in the creation of new weapons.
At the end of the fifties, the leading countries of the world were actively involved in rocketry. For example, the USSR and the USA needed missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads to targets on enemy territory. The Egyptian leadership saw the current trends and showed some interest in missiles. The result was the creation of several ballistic missile projects with different characteristics. For several years, Egyptian designers have created a number of interesting rocketry projects, which, however, did not have much success. Nevertheless, the Egyptian missile program is of some interest from a historical point of view.
Soon after the formation of the United Arab Republic (UAR), which included Egypt and Syria, the leadership of the new country initiated research in the field of rocketry. Almost immediately it became clear that the existing scientific and production potential did not allow the country to independently develop ballistic missiles suitable for use in the military. The rocket program required technology, knowledge and specialists. All this was only in a few countries of the world, primarily in the USSR and the USA. It is known that German specialists played an important role in the creation of the American and Soviet missile programs. The designers from the UAR decided to follow the same path: they found former German engineers who participated in the projects of Nazi Germany, and invited them to their program.
In 1960, a group of German specialists arrived in the UAR, the purpose of which was to develop new projects, as well as train Egyptian engineers. The development of the first Egyptian ballistic missile project was led by Wolfgang Pilz, Paul Gerke and Wolfgang Kleinwechter. Project A-4, also known as "V-2", was taken as the basis for the development. The Egyptian project was designated Al Kaher-1.
From a technical point of view, the Al Kaher-1 rocket was a smaller copy of the A-4 rocket with a number of modifications due to the level of development of the Egyptian industry and the latest achievements in the industry. The product had a length of about 9 meters (according to other sources, about 7 m) and a cylindrical body with a diameter of 0.8 m with a tail section expanding to 1.2 m. The rocket was equipped with a tapered head fairing. Due to the use of German modifications, the first Egyptian rocket received a liquid engine, presumably borrowed from the Wasserfall rocket and modified to use an ethanol-liquid oxygen fuel pair.
The Al Kaher-1 rocket had an extremely simple design. It was proposed to make the body of metal sheets and equip it with stamped stabilizers. According to reports, it was decided not to equip the missile with any control systems. Thus, the product could only be used for strikes against large area targets, for example, against enemy cities. The technical appearance of the Al Kaher-1 missile suggests that this project was supposed to solve two problems: to provide the armed forces with long-range missile weapons, and also to show the real capabilities of the industry.
At the beginning of 1962, German specialists left the project, which is why the Egyptian engineers had to carry out all the remaining work without the help of experienced colleagues. Despite the difficulties that arose, tests of the Al Kaher-1 rocket started in the middle of the 62nd year. On July 21, two test launches took place at one of the Egyptian proving grounds. During the tests, several launches were carried out, which made it possible to work out the design of the rocket and test its capabilities.
The new Al Kaher-1 missiles were to become not only a weapon, but also a political tool. For this reason, the first public demonstration of the rocket took place just a couple of days after the start of the tests. On July 23, 1962, on the day of the 10th anniversary of the revolution, several new missiles were demonstrated in Cairo. The available materials suggest that models of weapons were shown at the parade. In addition, at the July 23 parade, the missiles were transported in slightly converted trucks, and not on special equipment.
After the tests and parade of 62, the Egyptian designers finalized the existing project, and also completed the development of several auxiliary means. In July 1963, missiles with a modified hull and stabilizers were demonstrated at the parade. At the same time, the first demonstration of new self-propelled launchers on automobile chassis took place.
The first Egyptian missile, the Al Kaher-1, was by no means perfect. Nevertheless, in the early sixties, the UAR urgently needed missile weapons and did not have to choose. According to reports, by the end of 1962, the country's leadership decided to launch Al Kaher-1 into mass production. It was supposed to make and send at least 300-400 missiles to the troops, the purpose of which was to be Israeli cities and troop concentrations.
Details of the operation and use of Al Kaher-1 missiles are lacking. Some sources mention that these missiles were deployed to attack Israel. However, there is no information on the combat use of missiles against Israeli forces. Probably, Al Kaher-1 products were not used or were used without noticeable success. A number of Al Kaher-1 missiles remained in warehouses in the Sinai Peninsula until the start of the Six Day War. All remaining stocks of these weapons, along with launchers and warehouses, were destroyed by Israeli aircraft.
In parallel with Al Kaher-1, the Egyptians were developing the Al Kaher-2 rocket. The objectives of this project were the same, but the rocket with the letter "2" had a different look. It had a total length of about 12 m and a cylindrical body with a diameter of 1.2 m without a conical body of the engine compartment. In the rear of the hull there were trapezoidal stabilizers. The rocket was equipped with a liquid engine and did not have any control systems. It is often suggested that the Al Kaher-2 project was created on the basis of German developments and with an eye on the American Viking rocket, in favor of which some features of the Egyptian product may speak. However, UAR engineers did not have access to American projects.
Tests of the Al Kaher-2 rocket started on July 21, 1962. The two launches marked the beginning of a series of tests that made it possible to study the capabilities of the rocket and correct the existing shortcomings. However, the Al Kaher-2 project did not advance beyond the testing stage. He allowed the Egyptian engineers to gather the necessary information, but remained purely experimental.
At the parade on July 23, 1962, the Egyptian army showed two new ballistic missiles at once: Al Kaher-1 and Al Kaher-3. The rocket with the index "3" can be considered a full-fledged analogue of the German A-4, developed taking into account the development of industry and technology. Despite some shortcomings and problems, the Al Kahker-3 rocket can be considered the first Egyptian-developed rocket with characteristics that provided a sufficiently high flexibility of use. Thus, a flight range of up to 450-500 kilometers made it possible to attack targets on Israeli territory without placing launch positions dangerously close to its borders.
Similar to the A-4, the Al Kaher-3 was slightly smaller and lighter. The length of the product did not exceed 12 m, the starting weight was 10 tons. The rocket received a body with a diameter of 1, 4 m with a tail expanding to 1, 8 m. As before, the hull was equipped with triangular stabilizers. The rocket was again equipped with a liquid engine with a thrust of about 17 tons. The characteristics of the new power plant made it possible to increase the launch weight of the rocket to 10 tons and the throw weight to 1 ton.
Tests of the Al Kaher-3 rocket began in the second half of 1962 and showed its relatively high performance. A flight range of up to 500 kilometers allowed the Egyptian military to attack Israeli targets over most of the enemy's territory, depending on the location of the launchers. The possibility of using a warhead weighing up to 1000 kg increased the real potential of the rocket.
Al Kaher-3 rockets have been repeatedly demonstrated at parades marking the anniversary of the revolution. In 1962, the serial production of these products began. It was assumed that Al Kaher-3 would become the main strike weapon of the UAR missile forces. However, the country's economic capabilities did not allow the rapid creation of a reliable missile shield. As a result, the total number of missiles of the new model did not exceed several hundred. Al Kaher-3 missile launchers were located in the Sinai Peninsula. Warehouses for storing missiles were also built there.
Despite the ambitious plans, Al Kaher-3 missiles have never been used for their intended purpose. Almost all available missiles were destroyed by Israeli aircraft during the Six Day War. At the same time, most of the Egyptian missiles during the bombing were in warehouses unloaded and unreadable. According to some reports, Israel did not consider warehouses with Al Kaher-3 missiles as priority targets and did not try to destroy them in the first place.
On July 23, 1963, the new Al Raed rocket was demonstrated for the first time in Cairo. Great hopes were pinned on this project: it was alleged that the range of the new missile exceeded several thousand kilometers and made it possible to strike at targets on the territory of all opponents of the UAR. However, upon closer examination of the project, it becomes clear that such statements were not true.
Due to the limited experience in the creation of rocket technology, the Al Raed product was supposed to be built on the basis of components of the Al Kaher family of missiles. Moreover, Al Raed was a true "hybrid" of Al Kaher-1 and Al Kaher-3 missiles. This approach made it possible to relatively simply and quickly provide the army with extended-range missiles, but it had a lot of specific problems. Nevertheless, it was decided to build a "hybrid rocket" based on the units of existing products.
The first stage of the Al Raed rocket was a slightly modified Al Kaher-3. This rocket was fitted with a new head fairing with a second stage attachment system. The Al Kaher-1 rocket was used as the second stage with minimal design modifications due to the need for installation in the first stage. The Al Raed missile did not have any control systems.
There is no information about the tests of the Al Raed missile. This weapon was demonstrated at parades in 1963 and 1964, which indicates the approximate timing of the development of the project. It is noteworthy that the first stages of the missiles shown in the 64th were slightly larger in comparison with the assemblies of the first version of the missiles. Probably, such improvements were associated with an increase in the capacity of the fuel tanks to increase the flight range. Nevertheless, even in this case, the maximum flight range of the Al Raed missile cannot be estimated more than 1200-1500 km, and this is much less than the declared several thousand kilometers. The firing accuracy of an unguided missile at such a range would be extremely low.
Al Raed rockets have been shown twice in parades, but apparently did not go into production. Several factors could affect the prospects of the project. These are the limited technical and technological capabilities of the UAR / Egypt, the dubious characteristics of the missile, as well as the country's economic problems that began in the first half of the sixties. One way or another, Al Raed missiles were not mass-produced and did not reach the troops.
In a matter of years, Egyptian specialists, with the help of German engineers, developed four projects of ballistic missiles of different ranges. Products of the Al Kaher family and the Al Raed rocket have been repeatedly demonstrated at parades and have a beneficial effect on the patriotic mood of the population. However, they could not have a noticeable impact on the potential of the armed forces and did not show themselves in a real war.
Of all the missiles developed, only Al Kaher-1 and Al Kaher-3, produced in an amount of several hundred units, reached serial production. For obvious reasons, launchers and warehouses with missiles were located on the territory of the Sinai Peninsula, at the shortest possible distance from the Israeli borders. In particular, this also affected the fate of the missiles: all of them were destroyed by Israeli troops before the Egyptian military had time to make at least one launch.
While developing their own missiles, Egyptian specialists gained useful experience, but they could not use it. Due to a serious lag behind the leading countries, the UAR leadership decided to abandon the further development of its own ballistic missiles and resort to buying foreign equipment. Already in the mid-sixties, Cairo began negotiations on the supply of 9K72 Elbrus missile systems with Soviet-made R-300 missiles.
The R-300 missiles were inferior to the Al Kaher-3 in terms of maximum flight range and throw weight, but they had a lot of advantages over them. So, the self-propelled launcher allowed to take the rocket to the position and launch in the shortest possible time, the rocket had great accuracy, and could also be stored for a long time in a fueled form, without requiring a lengthy and complex procedure for preparing for launch. All this ultimately affected the appearance of the Egyptian missile forces, formed in the late sixties. Attempts to create their own ballistic missiles have stopped.