Beyond the Cusp

July 17, 2014

Hamas Rockets and Israeli Munitions

Hamas has a range of rocket varieties each with their own challenges, ease of intra-Gaza construction, imported through smuggling tunnels, ranges, warhead sizes and other varied characteristics. The best known are the Katyusha Rockets which is part of a Multiple-Rocket Launch System (MRLS) which can be set up to launch as many rockets in a short period of time as tubes can be assembled and wired to the main controller on the carrying vehicle, trailer or fixed mounted launcher. The Katyusha Rocket itself comes in three various calibers or diameter of rocket and warhead body which are 82mm, 132mm, and 300mm. The 82mm variant comes with a large choice of number of tubes or rails holding individual rockets with the larger systems requiring stronger mounting vehicles or might lend themselves to a fixed positioning even subterranean and the larger the launcher the longer it takes between salvos to reload and prepare for the next volley. The ranges of launch capabilities consist of the highly mobile and mountable on virtually any vehicle consist of 6, 8, and 12 launchers. Requiring slightly larger vehicle or trailer platform is the 20 and 36 tube models and the largest requiring a military grade vehicle consist of 40 and 48 launchers and the heaviest of the Katyusha Rockets Launch Systems is capable of holding 72 rockets. The vast majority of the Hamas systems are of the smaller end systems with the vast majority of their launchers being of the smallest variants while there have been some of the 20 through 40 or 48 rocket systems. The existence of the supersized 72 rocket launchers has thus far been unsubstantiated. The 132mm variant comes in 13 and 16 rocket abilities and the 300mm has variants of 4, 8, and 12.

 

The warheads carried by and range of these rockets are obviously dependent on the caliber of the rockets the system utilized. The 82mm has one variant named the M-8 which has a range of 5,900m (6,500 yds.) and a warhead size of 0.64kg (1.4 lbs.). The 132mm variant comes in a variety of models as follows; the M-13 with a range of 8,740 m (9,560 yds.) and a warhead size of 4.9 kg (11 lbs.); the M-13DD with a range of 11,800 m (12,900 yds.) and a warhead size of 4.9 kg (11 lbs.); the M-20 with a range of 7,900 m (8,600 yds.) and a warhead size of 18.4 kg (41 lbs.). Finally, the 300mm variant has two variants potentially utilized by Hamas which are the M-30 with a range of 2,800 m (3,100 yds.) and a warhead size of 28.9 kg (64 lbs.); and the M-31 with a range of 4,325 m (4,730 yds.) and a warhead size of 28.9 kg (64 lbs.).

 

The next most utilized rockets are the Qassam Rockets which are imported but are primarily produced within Gaza. The Qassam Rockets can be made from a large variation of materials such that they are difficult to classify into fixed dimensions, range and warhead sizes. They are generally broken down into three types, type 1, 2, and 3. They have ranges and warhead weight as the Type 1 has a range of up to 5km with a warhead of 5kg, the Type 2 has a range of up to 12km with a warhead of 10kg, and Type 3 has a range of up to 16km with a warhead of 20kg. These are single launch rockets which have the advantage of being able to be set up from scratch and fired within five minutes making them highly mobile and easily used with minimal exposure to Israeli countermeasures.

 

The Grad Rockets are another MLRS which are made in numerous nations with each having slightly different specifications. The largest numbers of Grad Rockets are believed to have been smuggled in through the tunnels originating in the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula. It is believed that Hamas and the other terrorist groups utilize the Chinese Grad variant as well as the Iranian, North Korean and even Egyptian variants. All of these are based on the original BM-21 launch vehicle launchers. These systems presumably require a crew of three to operate them and they have 40 launch tubes capable of launching two rockets per second having a radius of 122 mm which have a range of originally 20 km with the newer rockets capable of a range of 30–45 km and a warhead of 18 lbs. to 24.5 lbs. The recent extensive destruction of these tunnels by the new military government in Egypt has probably made resupply of these rockets more difficult and may be part of the reason Hamas finds it necessary to attack at this time. Many experts have claimed that the primary reason that Hamas agreed to form the unity government, and even agreed to minimal representation from their elite leadership, was they had become desperate lacking funds and resupply having become difficult due to the Egyptian destruction of their smuggling tunnels, closing the border between the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza as well as blockading the narrow Mediterranean Sea approaches to the southernmost Gaza beaches, which are the sole approach with any means of avoiding the Israel. The Egyptians prevented any approach from the northern shores of the Sinai Peninsula and slipping under the Israel monitoring Naval ships by utilizing Egyptian territorial waters and just minimally entering the Israeli enforced areas.

 

Hamas was supplied by Iran during the time they were allied, which was before Hamas announced their backing of the rebels against Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad, with the Fajr-5 with a range of range of up to 75km and can carry a 175kg warhead containing 90 kg HE (high explosive) content. Also received along the same timeline were the Khaibar M-302 rockets which were produced by Syria. The Khaibar M-302 is quite likely to be based on Chinese WS-1 having a range of 100km-212.4km (62.1-132m) and a warhead 175 kg (385.8 lbs.). This weapon may be armed with cluster munitions though it is unknown if Hamas has such warheads. This is a MLRS with up to six rockets on a single launch vehicle. There are also reports that Hamas may also have China WeiShi WS-1E 122mm and the WeiShi WS-1B 302mm Rockets. The WS-1E has a range of 20-40km and a warhead weighing 18-22kg. The WS-1B has a range of 60-680km and a warhead weighing 150kg.

 

On the Israeli side the heroic and most touted weapon is a purely defensive system called the Iron Dome anti-missile system and of course it can also be utilized against unguided rockets. This is an interceptor which targets short range rockets, missiles and 155 mm artillery rounds having a range of up to 70 km. The Iron Dome has surpassed everybody’s expectations except perhaps the designing engineers and R7D technicians who assisted in the development, testing and bringing this miraculous system into production. Each Iron Dome system carries twenty interceptors which are independently deployed and operated remotely via a secure wireless connection. Each battery is capable of protecting an urban, rural, suburban, industrial or combination of areas totaling approximately 150 sq. km. The system uses an EL/M-2084 active electronically scanned array and each interceptor is armed with a proximity fuse. The Iron Dome fires the Tamir interceptor missile which is equipped with electro-optic sensors and several servo-controlled steering fins for high maneuverability and adaptability providing the system with its remarkable success interception rate of approaching, or even surpassing, 90%. There is one potentially serious drawback with the Iron Dome system and that is the $20,000 price per interceptor missile as they are targeting rockets which cost between $75 and $2,500 per rocket. The price disparity makes the Israeli defense cost something that some other nations might debate the effectiveness versus costs of fielding such a system, yet Israel cannot build systems fast enough to have them fielded across the entirety of the country and not need to constantly cycle their positions to cover varying threats. The saving grace of the Iron Dome system is it is capable of tracking potential target projectiles and determine in real-time where the projectile will strike and determine whether or not that location is populated or an open space and thus only fire interceptors at those rounds which pose a serious threat to the Israeli people and military units.

 

On the offensive side, Israel uses similar munitions as most other Western nations. The Merkava main battle tank fires a 120 mm round through a smoothbore cannon with laser and optical computerized aiming system. The majority of the Israeli defensive reply which is laboring to force Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the other terrorist groups from their barrages of rockets and mortars fired predominantly at Israeli residential and metropolitan areas within Israel from within or adjacent to schools, hospitals, and residential neighborhoods has been using the F-15 fighter aircraft using precision munitions, both GPS, video or laser guided bombs and missiles. These munitions are of varied sizes but the size of the munitions can be misleading as Israel has a tactic which is pretty much unfound in as a tactic in any other military. Israel will reconstruct a bomb or missile so as to limit the amount of explosives in the munition to fit the target without doing as much collateral damage to other structures and any individuals in the area. These are oft referred to a sub munitions which is a little misleading because the size of the munition remains the same from one target to the next, just the amount of explosives within the bomb or missile changes. Many of these munitions are produced in the varying explosive capability when they are produced while round imported are often disassembled and reassembled with the necessary amount of explosives to minimize collateral damages. Israel also will drop leaflets and even call the cell phones of the residents in areas around any targeted structure informing them of the impending attack giving them anywhere from five to ten minutes to as much as twenty-four hours of notice. The problem with this effort is a Hamas spokesperson actually called on the citizens of Gaza to remain in their homes despite their receiving warnings of imminent attack and even for people to rush towards houses which have been identified as targeted. This announcement was made simply because Hamas knows and is relying on the fact that Israel will call off strikes if it appears that innocents are in danger of harm. This is why Hamas instructs these human shields to gather on the roofs of the targeted buildings so that they will be clearly visible by the pilots of the fighters tasked with the mission. The one relatively unreported fact is that not all rounds landing in Gaza originate from Israelis. There have been over one hundred rockets and mortars which have landed within Gaza with some falling on residences and populated areas of Gaza. The one thing many, if not the vast majority, of Israelis simply desires the violence to end, preferably once and for all. The troubling truth is that this is the third war that Hamas has initiated since they took control of Gaza from the Palestinian Authority in 2007. These attacks have resulted in Israeli responses of Operation Cast Lead in 2008, Operation Pillar of Smoke in 2012, and Operation Defensive Edge of 2014. May this be the final time that such a conflict will be thrust upon Israel from across any of her borders. The saddest thing is the futility of that wish when one stops and considers that on every side and across every inch of Israeli borders, even within her borders and even within her government to within the Knesset are significant numbers of people who wish to destroy Israel as being the safe nation for the Jewish People. Even some of the Jews living in Israel desire that Israel become a multicultural nation where the Jews no longer make up the majority and they cannot see any problems which may arise from such a consequence. This view has also infected a sizeable number of Jews living in the United States. This is just one more frightening and saddening reality infecting the world.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

November 17, 2012

Hamas Iran Rocket Link

There have been a few new twists and revelations which have come into view that provide some insight to the truth of who exactly Israel is fighting as they take on the Terrorist rocket threats from Hamas and other terrorist entities in Gaza. Two of the most striking revelations have been the use of Fadjr MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System) which is produced in Iran and an anti-tank rocket called Kornet which was originally a Russian produced armament but has since been copied and produced by Iran and provided to their IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) who then pass them along to their terror proxy forces such as Hamas and Hezballah. The use of these systems points to the truth that the fight is not as it has been portrayed of the mighty IDF against poorly armed Palestinians who are left to fight with outdated equipment and weaponry. These current front line type weapons being brought to bear by Hamas and Islamic Jihad is proof beyond any doubt that these terror forces are well armed and provided by a state sponsor, in this case apparently Iran. The Fadjr rocket systems have a range of 75km which brings Tel Aviv and possibly the outskirts of Jerusalem within range of terrorists within Gaza and the Kornet anti-tank rocket is a guided system that is effective against a large variety of armored vehicles including even the Israeli Merkava Main Battle Tank as well as all armored personnel carriers and other lesser armored vehicles.

This raises the question as to how this fairly large, complex and advanced weaponry managed to come to be available to the terror forces in Gaza as it is highly unlikely that such advanced weaponry was produced locally. The presence of these weapons also stand as further validation of the need for Israel continuing to impose the maritime embargo which allows them to inspect items before allowing them to enter into the Gaza Strip as even with the embargo in place these rocket systems have still managed to find a route into Gaza.

The Kornet missile is likely making its way into Gaza through the smuggling tunnels but such would be highly unlikely for the Fadjr systems even if they were being brought through without being mounted on a vehicle and are placed on a vehicle or placed in a stationary launch pad once they are received. The obvious lesson to be learned here is what categories, types, and numbers of heavy weapons would be transported into Gaza should the shipping lanes be opened up for free transit. One could be fairly sure that rockets and regular artillery pieces would find their way into Gaza placing all of Israel within range of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, al-Qaeda in Gaza, PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine), PRC (Popular Resistance Committee) and other terror organizations residing in Gaza. Such a set of conditions would also allow the possibility of armored vehicles to be introduced for the terror forces in Gaza such as tanks of every size and capability, fighter jets, other aircraft, and sufficient arms and even additional personnel that Hamas would no longer be just a threat to Israel, but would also serve as an Iranian threat on Egypt’s doorstep. If Iran was able to be completely free to supply Gaza with arms as they have done for Hezballah in Lebanon, the Sinai would soon be conquered and controlled by Hamas and their terrorist allies. Such a condition would threaten war at both ends of the Sinai Peninsula at Iran’s calling. Perhaps this explains part of the reason that despite the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood is able to set the agenda in Egypt, the border between Gaza and Egypt remains closed to traffic entering Gaza without first being inspected. Such applies not only to goods and other items but also people who are checked against a list which determines who is and is not allowed to enter Gaza. Egypt had attempted to open up the border with Gaza to disastrous results which caused them to reconsider and they now tightly control passage in and out of Gaza. This is another little truth that is never mentioned as if it was generally known that Egypt also has its own version of an embargo on Gaza, then the Israeli embargo would no longer be a target for complaints and denunciations. The one item that must be remembered is that Iran is supplying Hamas et al with whatever arms they are able to smuggle into Gaza and if given free access, Iran would likely send entire divisions of the IRGC into Gaza to attack and terrorize all of Israel they could place within the range of their weapons. This fight is not Israel against the hapless and poorly armed Gazans but between Israel and a well-armed and trained Iranian proxy force.

Beyond the Cusp

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