June 2, 2010: In the last few months, Lebanese terror group Hezbollah appears to have received over a hundred M600 ballistic missiles from Syria. Now, after many people scoured Google Earth satellite photos of Syria and Lebanon, looking for the weapons, something particularly interesting was found in northern Syria, outside the town of Masyaf. Google Earth users noted five compounds, that appear to be closed to all but authorized personnel. Inside these compounds there appeared to be entrances to bunkers dug into adjacent hills. In 2003, Syrian sources reported that Iraqi chemical weapons were sent to Syria, and some were storied in bunkers near Masyaf. These bunkers are believed to hold other munitions, including missiles being shipped to Hezbollah facilities in Lebanon. There, hundreds of tunnels and bunkers are used for storing Hezbollah munitions, personnel and vehicles. Satellite and aerial photos have seen weapons being brought in and out of these tunnels. Syria denies providing Hezbollah with any weapons.
The M600 missile is a copy of the Iranian Fateh which, in turn, is a copy of the Chinese DF-11A (which had a range of 400 kilometers). The M600 is a 8.86 meter (27.5 foot), 3.5 ton rocket with a half ton warhead. Range is about 250 kilometers. This might account for the reports, late last year, that Syria had provided Hezbollah with SCUD missiles. Both the M600 and SCUD are ballistic missiles, but the M600 is a more modern design. SCUD was developed from the German World War II era V-2.
Hezbollah is also known to have some Fajr-5 rockets. This is a one ton guided missile based the old Soviet unguided artillery rockets (the larger ones). Fajr-5 has a range of about 75 kilometers and a 91 kg (200 pound) warhead. The guidance system is crude, and the Fajr-5 will land up to kilometer from its aim point. Hezbollah is also believed to have some Iranian Zalzal rockets. These are based on the old Soviet unguided FROG series, and is no more accurate than the Fajr-5, weighs three tons, has a 636 kg (1,400 pound) warhead and a range of about 200 kilometers. Both of these missiles use solid fuel and, by U.S. standards, decades old technology. But they allow Hezbollah to hit targets throughout most of Israel.
All these weapons, except for the SCUDS, use solid fuel, meaning they can be launched within ten minutes of the vehicle carrier/launcher halting. Hezbollah is believed have these launcher vehicles hidden throughout southern Lebanon, and able to exit caves or buildings and promptly fire. If Israel does not know some of the hiding places, then some of these missiles can be fired.
During the 2006 war with Israel, Hezbollah fired some 4,000 rockets, most of them shorter range (20 kilometers) 122mm BM-21 models. They fired a few longer range rockets at urban areas, and the larger warheads did a lot of damage and caused some casualties. Israeli civil defense plans now take into account more long range missiles being fired by Hezbollah in the future, even though Israel has Patriot and Arrow anti-missile systems deployed. But if Hezbollah, or Syria and Iran, can fire too many missiles at once, Israeli anti-missile defenses will be overwhelmed.