More than 200 hundred rockets were fired from south Lebanon into Israel on Friday and Saturday adding up to over 1,000 over the past two weeks. The latest news on Hezbollah launched rockets is the use of a Khaibar-1 rocket, which hit on Saturday an open field near the town of Afulla in the Valley of Izrael. Hezbollah propaganda named the rocket “Khaibar,” a historic-religious name deriving from the Battle of Khaibar in the Arabian Peninsula in the early years of Islam. The battle, was against a Jewish fortification, has become a symbol of resilience and of the superiority of Islam over Judaism. The Khaibar-1 is apparently one of the Iranian Fadjr family of artillery missiles.
It is important to analyze the basic characteristics of these weapon systems. The main factor related to the present conflict regards the rocket’s maximum range and the type of warhead used. So far the Hezbollah have been using mainly short range rockets, fired either from a single launcher, often with an improvised timer enabling to aim the rocket towards a general direction and flight angle and then walk away from the launch site.
Various types of electronic timers, often with a simple modified alarm clock, do the rest. These rockets are an Iranian version, called Haseb, of the Russian 107mm Katyusha with a range of up to nine kilometers. Another way to launch the rockets is by using multiple launchers to create a salvo effect. Such launchers can be towed or mounted on jeeps, trucks etc. The war head (explosives) weighs eight kilograms.
Another artillery rocket type is the Arash 1 and 2, both based on Russian and Chinese models. This 122mm rocket has a range of 18 kilometers with a warhead weighing 18 kilograms. Here too the rocket can be launched from a single launch pad or in salvos from a multiple rocket launcher. Hezbollah uses this system mainly with a single launcher.
The second set of Iranian made rockets, believed to have been delivered to the Hezbollah in smaller numbers, is the Oghab, a 230mm rocket with a range of 45 kilometers and a warhead weighing 70 kilograms. Originally this rocket was designed to be carried and fired from special vehicles. However, they can also be fired from a single launching tube. In the same category is the Fadjr-3 230mm with a range of 45 kilometers and a warhead weighing 45 kilograms. It is believed that the simpler and lighter Fadjr-3 is the one used by the Hezbollah. It too can be mounted on a vehicle to be used as a multiple rocket launcher. The Oghab and the Fadjr-3 can cover northern Israel, including Haifa and Tiberias. To launch them the Hezbollah have to be as close as possible to the Israeli-Lebanese border.
The conflict will escalate if the Hezbollah have in their arsenal heavier rockets capable of covering a distance of 75 kilometers, carrying 190 kilograms of explosives; this rocket is the Fadjr-5 333mm. It is a larger rocket and therefore more difficult to move around. Originally it was designed for multiple rocket launchers. The last two heavy rockets are the Shahin-1 333mm with a range of 13 kilometers and a warhead of 190 kilograms and the Shahin-2 333mm with a 20-kilometer range and also a 190-kilogram warhead.
Experts on artillery rockets note that to launch the long range and heavier rockets the Hezbollah would need an elaborate technical and logistical capability. If these rockets are launched it will almost certainly mean Iranian experts and their equipment are active in Lebanon.
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