Artillery: Use It Or Lose It In Syria


January 16, 2013:   In the last month Syria has fired dozens of ballistic missiles at rebel targets (either pro-rebel villages, city neighborhoods, or military camps captured by the rebels). This seemed wasteful as these missiles were designed for use against an enemy with effective air defense systems (like Israel), not poorly armed rebels. Apparently the government felt many of these missiles were in danger of being captured, so it was a case of “use it or lose it.” Each missile was the equivalent of a half-ton bomb dropped by an aircraft and cost the government several hundred thousand dollars to buy and thousands of dollars a year to maintain. One of the most frequently fired missiles was the Iranian Fateh 110 or a Syrian made copy.

The Fateh 110 is a copy of the Chinese DF-11A ballistic missile, which had a range of 400 kilometers. The Fateh 110 is an 8.86 meter (27.5 foot), 3.5 ton rocket with a half-ton warhead. Range is about 250 kilometers. Fateh is much more accurate (will land within a 100 meter/330 foot circle, versus 500 meters or more) than the older SCUD. The Fateh 110 is a solid fuel missile developed to replace the liquid fueled SCUD ballistic missiles Iran had been using since the 1980s. SCUD was developed from the German World War II era V-2.

Syria has underground storage and launch facilities for its arsenal of over a thousand ballistic missiles. Most are of the older, liquid fueled SCUD type. Armed with half ton high explosive and cluster bomb warheads, the missiles have ranges of 300-700 kilometers. Syria also has some 90 older Russian Frog-7 missiles (70 kilometer range, half ton warhead) and 210 more modern Russian SS-21 missiles (120 kilometer range, half ton warhead) operating with mobile launchers. There are also 60 mobile ballistic missile launchers. The Syrians have a large network of camouflaged launching sites for the mobile launchers. Iran and North Korea have helped Syria build underground SCUD manufacturing and maintenance facilities. The Syrian missiles are meant to hit Israeli airfields, missile launching sites, and nuclear weapons sites, as well as population centers. Syria hoped to do enough damage with a missile strike to cripple Israeli combat capability.

Three years ago Lebanese terror group Hezbollah received some M600 ballistic missiles from Syria. This weapon is a Syrian copy of the Iranian Fateh 110 and is a 8.86 meter (27.5 foot), 3.5 ton rocket with a half-ton warhead. It is feared that Hezbollah might be given (or simply take) many of these long range missiles back to southern Lebanon. At the moment, Hezbollah is providing weapons and gunmen for the Syrian government, and getting paid for this in ballistic missiles would not be unheard of.


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