Artillery: Iraq Back To Building Large Rockets


August 4, 2017: Iraq just announced that they were back in the business of developing and building military rockets. Iraq recently announced the successful test launch of the Yaqeen 1. It was described as a solid-fuel rocket with a 350 kg (770 pound) warhead and a range of 15 kilometers. In English Yaqeen means “certainly” which may be a reference to how (and who) Yaqeen was developed. Iraq used Saddam era rocket engineers who were brought out of retirement for this project. They apparently used some Russian tech to build the solid fuel rocket motor. Iraqi officials mentioned that Yaqeen was one of four new rocket weapons being developed. Some of these have larger (up to a ton) warheads ranges of up to 35 kilometers.

From the description Yaqeen 1 appears to be a one ton unguided artillery rocket similar to early versions of the Soviet FROG (NATO ID, for “Free Rocket Over Ground”) which the Russians called this the 3R8 rocket. The first FROG entered service in 1960 as a two ton solid fuel rocket with a half-ton (500 kg) high-explosive warhead and a max range of 32 kilometers. FROG was carried on and launched from a tracked vehicle (based on the chassis used for the PT-76 light tank) or, more frequentky as time went on, a heavy truck. By the late 1960s most active duty Soviet mechanized and tank divisions were equipped with several launchers plus reload vehicles. Later models had range extended to 70 kilometers and there were chemical weapon or nuclear warheads available. During the 2003 invasion of Iraq some American units were fired on by FROG rockets. One such attack killed three soldiers and two journalists as well as 14 troops and destroying 22 vehicles.

Iraq also built its own version of FROG, called Laith-90 which had a 90 kilometers range and a cluster bomb warhead that dispersed many submunitions over a wide area. Iran went on to develop many similar rockets but the Iraqis made it clear they developed the Yaqeen 1 using only Iraqi resources and were going to expand the program.