In the past several days, Hezbollah has fired over 700 rockets on Israel. Below is an all you ever wanted to know description of both the Fajr and Zelzal missile capabilities of Hezbollah. Thanks to all who assisted in this research:
The Fajr ("dawn") program appears to be centered around foreign-designed artillery rocket systems that have been modified slightly for production within Iran. Although the program appears to have begun in the later part of the Iran-Iraq War it may, in fact, trace its origins to the war's early years. Reliable information is available for only two of the Fajr systems: Fajr-3 and Fajr-5.
In the late 1980s, the North Korean-produced 240mm M-1985 multiple rocket launcher (MRL) was exported to Iran and subsequently produced under license (with minor changes) by Shahid Bagheri Industries as the Fajr-3 (a.k.a., Fadjr-3). Iran has reportedly supplied Hezbollah forces operating in Lebanon -- via Damascus -- with as many as 36 Fajr-3 systems. To date these are not known to have been employed against Israel, but are of significant concern to the IDF. It is presently unclear as to whether the North Korean-produced 240mm M-1991 MRL system has been supplied to Iran. In March 1990, Iranian Defense Minister Akbar Torkan announced that mass production had begun of the Fajr-3 artillery rocket with a range of 45km.
The Fajr-3 is a 5.2m long, solid-fueled rocket with a diameter of .24m and a weight of 407kg. It carries a 45kg warhead to a distance of 43km.
In the late 1980s or early 1990s, Chinese-produced 302mm WS-1 MRL was exported to Iran. Here it underwent significant changes and was subsequently produced as the Fajr-5 (a.k.a., Fadjr-5). The most significant modification was the changing of the diameter of the rocket from 302mm to 333mm. This is believed to have been undertaken to take advantage of existing Iranian factory tooling. This and other changes resulted in a decrease in maximum range from 80km to 75km. Like the Fajr-3, Iran has reportedly supplied Hezbollah forces operating in Lebanon -- via Damascus -- with the Fajr-5 systems. To date these are not known to have been employed against Israel, but due to their greater range, they are of even greater concern to the IDF.
The Fajr-5 is a 6.6m long solid fuel rocket with a diameter of .33m and a weight of 915kg. It carries a 90kg warhead to a distance of 75km. Both the Fajr-3 and -5 are produced under the auspices of the Aerospace Industries Organization. Little is known concerning other systems within the Fajr family.
No information is available concerning possible inventory levels for the Fajr-3 or -5. These systems are capable of being armed with conventional high explosive, chemical, biological, and radiological dispersion warheads.
Although the Zelzal ("earthquake") program can trace its ancestry back to date to the mid-1980s as part of the project to develop a FROG-7 equivalent, it appears that the program that developed the current Zelzal-1 and -2 began in the early 1990s. In September 1999 Brig. Gen. Gholamhossein Gheibparvar stated, "We have developed the Zelzal missile in the past four and a half years without any outside help and by the grace of God it is now in mass production..." thus suggesting the program began in late 1994 or early 1995. It is unclear whether the general was referring to the program as a whole or to just the Zelzal-2. If his references were to the Zelzal-2 alone, it is likely that the Zelzal-1 began development several years earlier.
Reports in the mid-1990s suggest that work on a Zelzal-3 (a.k.a., Zalzal 3 or Zalzal 300) system, with a range of 1,000-1,500km, was underway and that a first flight-test could be expected in 1998. These reports, however, are incorrect and confused the Shahab-3 program with that of the Zelzal.
In October 2002 Israeli sources indicated that Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps units operating in support of Hezbollah in Lebanon's Beka'a Valley had received the Zelzal-2. These reports remain unconfirmed and have likely confused the deliver of Fajr-3 or -5 systems with that of the Zelzal-2. If correct, the Zelzal-2's 210km range would threaten most of Israel. To date these are not known to have been employed against Israel.
In mid-2001, Iran is reported to have initiated a comprehensive review and reorganization of its diverse rocket and missile development programs. In this effort, reports suggest that the Zelzal program budget was reduced so resources could be concentrated on less costly systems. This, however, remains to be confirmed.
Currently, two versions of the Zelzal are known to be available -- the Zelzal-1 and Zelzal-2. The Zelzal-1 is a 8.3m long solid-fueled rocket with a diameter of .6m and a weight of 2,950kg. It carries a 600kg warhead to a distance of 125km. The Zelzal-2 is also 8.3m long solid-fueled rocket with a diameter of .6m. It, however, weighs of 3,450kg and can carry a 600kg warhead to a distance of 210km. The Zelzal family is produced by Shahid Bagheri Industries under the auspices of the Aerospace Industries Organization.
No information is available concerning possible inventory levels for either the Zelzal-1 or -2. These systems are capable of being armed with conventional high explosive, submunition, chemical, biological, and radiological dispersion warheads.