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Monday, May 29, 2006

Tel Aviv within range of new Hezbollah rocket

Maybe this will wake up some NIMBY-afflicted Israelis.

HaAretz is reporting this morning that Iran has supplied Hezbullah with rockets with a 200-kilometer range, which would put "all of Israel's urban centers" within rocket range. Of couse, HaAretz headlined their article that Tel Aviv is now in range, and I took that headline.

But the truth is that it is most significant that Tel Aviv is in range of Hezbullah's rockets, because Tel Aviv and its environs have been most complacent about the terror threat emanating from Hezbullah and the 'Palestinians.' In other words, the Tel Aviv area is more afflicted by NotInMyBackYard (NIMBY) syndrome than anyplace else in the country. They don't border Gaza and they don't border Judea and Samaria and they are not in the North. But now, they too are within range, and perhaps if the revenants play the cards right, this can be used to defeat Olmert's convergence consolidation realignment surrender and expulsion plan.

According to HaAretz:
The solid-fuel rockets lack an independent guidance system and their accuracy is questionable but they can still cause considerable damage.

According to intelligence estimates, the rockets are meant to strike non-specific areas, such as towns and cities, and carry a warhead estimated to weigh 600 kilograms. This latest development doubles the range of weapons previously in Hezbollah's arsenal.
600 Kilos is a huge warhead. For those of you who think in pounds, that's more than 1300 pounds. That's the size of a good car. That's a huge warhead.
The rockets delivered to the Hezbollah have appeared under different names. One is Zelzal-2, and its earlier model is the Zelzal-1. Another Iranian name for the rocket is Nazeat.

The rocket was first seen in a military parade in Tehran in September 2005, the first such event following the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president.
Here are some more details about these missiles. Note that the HaAretz article does not mention the Zelzal-3; which probably implies that Hezbullah does not have it. According to MissileThreat.com the Zelsal-3 was re-designated the Shihab-3 and is a ballistic missile system that we have seen reported before:

The Zelzal missiles are most likely unguided or use a rudimentary inertial system. They have ranges varying from 150 to 400 km (93 to 249 miles) and all carry a 600 kg payload. The missile is probably intended as a cheap alternative to importing better systems from China and will replace many of the Scuds that Iran has used against Iraq. The complete lack of a guidance system makes the system only useful as an artillery system to bombard a general area or a large target. As there is no guidance system, the angle and direction of launch will determine the ability of the missile to fly straight, and thus its accuracy. When properly launched, the Zelzal is accurate within several kilometers of its target.

There are no specific reports of a Zelzal-1, but the Zelzal-2 and Zelzal-3 imply its existence as a development program. In 1996, Iran tested the Zelzal-2 and then put the missile system up for sale. The Zelzal-2 is 8.32 m in length and 0.61 m in diameter, with a launch weight of 3,400 kg. It carries its 600 kg warhead to a maximum range of 200 km (124 miles). The Fateh A-110 (described separately) is believed to be a guided variant. In September 1999, Tehran displayed an unguided rocket known as the Zelzal-3. Its range is between 150 and 200 km (93 and 124 miels). An unconfirmed 2001 report suggests that Iran will upgrade the Zelzal-3 with an inertial guidance system and strap-on boosters that could increase its range to as much as 400 km (249 miles).

Sounds perfect for wreaking havoc on cities.

By comparison, Katyushas have a range of 12-22 kilometers while the Fajr-3, which Hezbullah has but has never used has a range of 45 kilometers (there's roughly five eighths of a mile in a kilometer).

According to HaAretz, international defense journals (I assume that means Jane's Defence Weekly) have reported that the Iranian rockets have been stored by the Hezbollah in special bunkers in a number of locations in the Bekaa near Lebanon's border with Syria.

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