How would we stop a V-2 rocket today?

Back in the war due to its supersonic speed the allies could do nothing to stop a V-2 once it was in flight (although one was shot down very shortly after launch due to sheer chance by a B-24) and their mobile launch platforms were also hard to catch (again, only one confirmed kill).

Suppose Kim-Jong Un reads Gravity’s Rainbow one too many times and starts producing V-2s and launching them at Seoul - from mobile sites or even submarines. What measures would be taken to take them out or would we just copy what the Allies did in WW2 and smash the infrastructure?

Patriot Missiles, although I suspect you are really looking for Israel’s Iron Dome system.

I suspect that the PAC-3 Patriot missiles would be pretty effective against something as antiquated as a V2 missile, which is pretty close to a SCUD missile in terms of range and speed.

Beyond that, I suspect that the ROK Air Force and USAF would be hunting land based ones down, as would the USN and ROK Navy for the sub based ones (which would quickly be dead meat, IMO)

It would be a lot like 1991, except with more antiquated NK stuff, and more advanced US/ROK stuff.

The Iron Dome is for smaller, shorter-range missiles. What you’re looking for is the Arrow.

For what it’s worth, DPRK already has enough standard artillery pointed at Seoul to crush 'em in a heartbeat. Any rockets he may possess would be used against Russia, China, Japan and (possibly) the U.S.A.

Wait. What makes you think Kim couldn’t do that now with considerably newer missiles of domestic manufacture, and based on old technology which is still considerably newer than V-2s?

Or are you just now hearing about the tactical ballistic missile threat? :confused:

Look up “SCUD hunt” to see how it was dealt with in 1991. There have been some improvements in point defense (e.g. see other citations about Israel’s “Arrow” ABM), but generally, it comes down to “hunt down and destroy their launchers”. Air power is good for this kind of thing, especially when cued by ground-based special forces scouting teams.

So… yeah, we start out by smashing the launchers and the command-and-control systems, then go after stockpiles, and then (proceeding to total war strategic objectives) the N Kor national capability to field them.

The Coalition’s efforts in 1991 against Scuds, both in intercepting them with Patriots and in Scud hunting were highly ineffective, though to keep morale up for propaganda purposes both the effectiveness of the Patriot and the Scud hunt were highly exaggerated. One of the more famous briefings during the war on the Scud hunt had the briefer showing footage of what he described as Scud TELs (Transporter/Erector/Launcher) being hit by laser guided bombs; what he was likely aware of when he was giving the briefing was that they were in fact semi trailers parked in the desert as decoys to draw Coalition fire, which they had. From your own cite:

I don’t give two giraffes about modern missiles, just V-2s.

Interesting that the best defence against them may be made by the Israelis, which would cause the late Fuhrer to roll in his grave…if he had one.

Israel is one of very few countries that has short-range missiles pointed at them. It makes far more sense for them to devote more time and effort to develop a defense against an actual threat than for the U.S. or U.K. to do so as one of fifty lower probability needs.

The SS-1 “Scud” family of missiles is essentially a slightly more modern version of the Aggregat-4 (V-2) rocket using more energetic storable propellants instead of LOX and ethanol, better transportability, and then-modern guidance systems. This makes the Scud have longer range and a sigificantly better Circular Error Probable (CEP) versus the V-2, but it isn’t fundamentally more difficult to intercept.

The MIM-104C (PAC-2) was ineffectual at intercepting the Al Hussein missiles, which actually missed their targets because of inherent instability of that modified design. The substantially new PAC-3 system, designed from the ground up as a missile interceptor, while demonstrating the interception capability has had a number of issues and anomalies during its test history, and the deployment was contraversial. The other land-based theatre defense system, THAAD, has had a checkered history during the dem/val phase (six failures and one abort out of eleven flight tests). The EMD phase, which reduced the capability requirements, had eleven successes out of fourteen tests (the three others were “no tests” due to failure of the target) but there is some question about the success of intercept, especially on descent phase where an “intercept” may just punch through the empty tankage with little practical effect on mtigating the hazard, especially if the weapon is armed with a chemical or nuclear weapon. Basically, if you don’t intercept the booster during the powered ascent phase, you have to ensure that you destroy or substantially disrupt the trajectory of the threat vehicle. We do not today have an assured means of doing this even for a unitary vehicle with no evasive capability or deployable countermeasures.


If your point is that it’s a hard job, agreed. As far as I know, it’s still the best approach on the books.

Maybe the “Sense-Decide-Effect” cycle has tightened down enough (ubiquitous UAVs, for instance) that maybe a mobile erector/launcher wouldn’t be able to escape, or even get off a shot, without being engaged. But I wouldn’t really count on it. Counterbattery is hard. Theater-range counterbattery against shoot-and-scoot launchers is even harder.

Fixed launchers would be dead in hours, maybe minutes. Mobile launchers, pretty clearly not so much. But you’d still be obligated to try. If nothing else, because tactical objectives aren’t the only objectives in mission prioritization, and simply looking like you’re trying may be more important in the short term. Consider if we’d just shrugged and said “Mobile SCUD launchers, sorry Israel, not much we can do about it, you’ll just have to suck it up. We have more important targets to bomb.”

Gulf War I disintegrates into an “all Arabs vs. Israel and NATO” free-for-all after Israel jumps into the fight and does some of that crazy battlefield voodoo they’re so good at.

Alliance forces trying very damn hard was enough to prevent that shitstorm ending. It gave Israel the visible justification to stay out of it (from an internal politics perspective).

Effectiveness wasn’t measured by the number of SCUDs shot down or the number of MTELs killed. It was measured by the fact that we won the war with the original alliance still intact.

That’s very much not my point. You said, bolding mine:

which is very much untrue, and entirely contradicted by the very RAND study you cite. Air power was not good at that kind of thing, even when cued by Special Forces scouting teams. The Pentagon’s Gulf War Air Power Survey found that it could not be conclusively proved that even a single Scud TEL was destroyed, and if any at all were destroyed it was nowhere near the number reported during the war. That it is the only option to deal with the threat, and that it was politically necessary to attempt to deal with the threat does not mean that it was in any way, shape, or form ‘good’ at dealing with the threat.

And remember that the SCUD is a 1950s design (SS-1); almost directly copied from the V-2. Compare the Patriot which came 40 years later. Imagine having to tackle SS-18 or 19.

I’m not that knowledgable about military tech, but wouldn’t we have a MUCH larger response window to V-2’s than they did back in WWII?

I mean, with satellite imaging, airborne radar, reconnaissance aircraft, etc, we could probably spot the things shortly after, or even during, launch.

What artillery pieces exactly have a 35 mile range? Very few that I’m aware of, and Seoul is roughly 35 miles from the DMZ.

Pssst - re-check the map - whatever it’s called, it is built up to the DMZ.

What relevance does that have to the question posed?

Seeing it coming and stopping it are two very, very different things.

A nuke blast* anywhere near it would certainly stop it, but that’s a bit higher price than most are willing to pay to stop anything short of WMD status.
A 1945 German rocket would not qualify.

    • for those who remember the “Neutron Bomb” (aka “Republican Bomb” - kills people, but leaves buildings): that started as an exercise in stopping inbound Soviet nukes - the idea was to create an atmosphere in which a nuke would go super-critical (Boom) just passing through it.

Still with putting the SCUD only slightly better than the V-2, I remember in Desert Storm that thing the media reported: the Patriot system has less than 1 minute to react to an oncoming SCUD (using its own radar system.) With satellite tracking, it becomes 90 seconds.

Sure, we can spot launches of ballistic missiles and track them in flight, provided we have satellite coverage or beyond the horizon (BTH) radar pointing in the direction of the launch site. In fact, a major part of ballistic missile defense–one that is often not seen by the public–is the launch detection and tracking systems; metaphorically, the “eyes” of missile defense. Another part is the threat discrimination, communications, and launch authority systems which actually control the system (the “brains”), which are actually the most technically challenging part of the system due to the large number of elements, both software and hardware, which have to be integrated into an overall working system with very minimal probability of a false positive, and an equally low false negative, as both consequences are dire. But the problem of actually intercepting a threat is also still very challenging. We’ve demonstrated hit to kill (HTK) capability, i.e. physical interception of a hypersonic ballistic object, and in fact have been able to do so–under controlled conditions–since the 'Sixties. But the logistics and tactics of being in the right place to feasibly make an intercept and insuring that an intercept actually disables or kills the vehicle, rather than just punching through it (in the case of a unitary target with expended propellant) or making it tumble or divert such that it is still a threat to some populated area, is enormously more challenging than most people think.

Directed energy weapons like the Airborne Laser (ABL) were intended to address those issues; the response is practically instantaneous, and you just keep blasting away at the threat until it heats up enough that it comes apart like a cheap gold watch. The reality is that directed energy weapons are so technically challenging in every capacity that they will not be practical for theatre or strategic level defense at any time in the foreseeable future, and physical interceptors have to be located somewhere downrange at a distance that allows for interception given the delay in order to be effective; and even with that, an intercept is not a guaranteed kill. So point defense systems like Patriot, THAAD, or the Israeli Arrow system (or the USN’s shipboard Standard Missile system) have some effectiveness in protecting small target areas, but completely disabling even something as crude as a V-2 in a theatre or strategic context (e.g. one armed with chemical or nuclear weapons) is still far from assured.