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Aug. 23, 2006
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Hezbollahstic Examination
TV channels all over the world showed last month how the Israeli Army got struck in fights against Hezbollah. Israeli generals call Russian anti-tank missiles a reason that hampered Israels triumphal march into Lebanon.
Things Israel Thought of

The Israeli claim that Hezbollah uses Russia-made RPG-29 Vampire grenade launchers and the Metis-M and Kornet-E anti-tank missile systems. Israel also says that Lebanon received the systems from Syria.

Thus, Russian arms have stopped the Israeli army, for the first time in history. Heaps of Soviet tanks, jets and missile in the hands of Arabs were unable to contain the Israeli Army in 1956, 1967, 1973 and 1982. In 2006, it seems that a handful of Vampires, Metiss and Kornets managed to do it. These exotic names are now known all over the world. In Israel, parents even scare children with these names.

The attention of the Israeli military to the three types of arms can be explained by the fact that their ammunition contains a strong hollow-charge tandem part which is able to hit the most modern tanks. Kornet-E uses 29-kg missiles which are aimed by a laser beam with a 5.5 km range. The launcher weights from 26 to 37 kg. The lighter Metis-M whose launcher weights 10 kg is a modernized version of the Metis anti-tank missile system which has been in Russias arsenal since the 1970s and has a more traditional control system the wire one. A Metis-M missile is 13.8 kg and has the range of 1.5 km but has the same strike capability as Kornet-Es. The two systems were developed the Instrument Engineering Design Bureau in Tula.

The RPG-29 Vampirie multi-use handheld anti-tank grenade launcher is one of the latest products of Moscows Bazalt. The RPG-29 weights 11.5 kg, firing from a detached barrel with 105mm 6.2 kg reactive grenades with the range of 500m. Like the above-mentioned anti-tank missile systems, the grenade launcher can be equipped with a thermal infra-red sight.

All the systems are successfully exported but their sale to Syria attracted particular attention. Making a decision to resume technical and military cooperation with Russia in the mid-1990s, the country started with buying modern anti-tank systems. The Instrument Engineering Design Bureau contracted with Syria in 1997 on the supply of Kornet-Es worth of $65 million and Metis-Ms to the sum of $73 million. The amount of the deliveries was not disclosed. But unofficial reports said 100 launchers and 1,000 Kornet-E missiles as well as 200 launchers and 2,000 Metis-M missiles were exported to the country in 1998 and 1999. In the same year, the Rosvooruzhenie arms exporter sold a substantial number of RPG-29 to Syria.

Israel slammed the deal and imposed sanctions on the design bureau. Israel and the United States opposed the supplies claiming that Syria could export the arms to terrorist organization

Things Israel Shows

Now Israeli officials state that their worst fears have come true. Hezbollah uses Kornet-Es and Metis-Ms, taken from Syria, in its fight against Israels troops. However, not a single seized launcher or a missile has been shown, even though the Israeli troops reported the capture.

Rumors that Hezbollah has RPG-29s appeared back in the late 2005 when Israel claimed the militants used these arms in border clashes. Local press released snapshots of parts of RPG-29 grenades. Russia, however, dismissed the claims as it is impossible to say exactly which lot the RPGs was from. Accusations of Hezbollah using RPG-29 its in arsenal have recently resurfaced, and one captured Vampire was shown at a trophy exhibition.

We cannot say that the Israeli military are not the only ones striving to justify military defeats by the intrusion of third parties. For the last decades, Russian citizens have been exposed to the official propaganda which said blacks and Arabs are the major militants who fight in Chechnya. A lot has also been said about the Stringer missiles that allegedly struck Russian helicopters. Israelis lamentations about Russian anti-tank systems have the same psychological ground. When gangsters prove to be capable of effective confrontation, fostering the view that the authoritys opponents are inferior savages always leads to the talk about mightily exterior power.

Trying to back up their accusations the Israeli military stage grand exhibitions of the trophies seized from Hezbollah in the military campaign. Laymen and philistine journalists are impressed by piles of arms. Better-informed people are puzzled by the exhibition. Kalashnikov assault rifles are alternated with pump-action shotguns and small-bore rifles. You can also see a selection of Iranian and Yugoslavian versions of Russias Malyutka anti-tank missile which was added to the countrys arsenal in the year when Khrushchev promised that Soviet people would live to see Communism. Further are the Soviet Konkurs anti-tank missile systems with the issue date 06/1984. Packages of TOW missiles with the marking of the US Army are also on display. The exhibition is crowned with models of anti-tank grenades apparently seized from training camps of Hezbollah.

Things Hezbollah Fights With

High-placed sources in Israel released though-provoking statistics in early August. It says that Hezbollahs militants have launched 500 anti-tank guided missiles since the start of hostilities on July 12. Only 40 of them struck Israeli tanks and only 10 went through their armor. So, only 2 percent of the missiles actually shot the tanks. The data certainly reflect the situation before Israels offensive on the Litani River when the Israeli suffered three-fourths of all losses. 44 Merkava tanks and a few dozens of other armored vehicles have been shot before the cease fire on August 13. However, it is more likely to be explained by a rising intensity of hostilities in the early August and a rise in the number of the missiles that Hezbollah launched. The average effectiveness of the strikes is still at the same level.

The extremely high percentage of the missile hit as well as a moderate ratio of tank armor penetration clearly proves that the overwhelming majority of anti-tank guided missiles that the militants use are of old types. Systems like Kornet-E and Metis-M would have showed a more impressive level effectiveness and hit capability. However, it is either that they were not used in Lebanon or their number was quite insignificant, according to the statistics. No wonder Israel found it hard to provide the proof.

The examination of the materials and trophies provided by the Israeli and media reports clearly show what kind of weapon Hezbollah fought with the Israeli army.

First, the arms include all possible versions of the old Malyutka anti-tank missile system. To all appearances, Hezbollahs arsenal includes Soviet products as well as Yugoslavian and Iranian copies of Malyutka. News anti-tank systems are largely represented by Konkurs and Fagot, key systems of the Soviet army in the 1970s-1980s. They have one and the same portable launcher. The only difference is in the weight and range of flight (4km and 2km, respectively). Like Malyutkas, the systems were usual in member-countries of the Warsaw Pact and were exported to Soviet-friendly states. Fagot is produced under license in Bulgaria and Konkurs in Bulgaria, Slovakia, India, Iran and China, under some reports. Iranian versions of Konkurs, Towsan-1 were among the exhibits on display in Israel.

The Lebanese army seems to be the prime source of supply for Hezbollah. Ironically enough, Lebanon was virtually fully re-equipped with U.S. arms in the 1990s. For instance, Lebanon received a big number of armaments and equipments that became space after the United States reduced its troops in Europe. The supplies included American TOW anti-tank guided missiles. These mighty missiles are 20kg with the fire range of 3-4km. A great part of these arms, including anti-tank ones, seem to have flowed to Hezbollah from the Lebanese army. The Israeli showed boxes with American TOW anti-tank guided missiles seized from the militants. The date on the boxes was 2001. Besides, portable French-German-made Milans were spotted in southern Lebanon. France sent the arms to the Lebanese army in the 1980s.

Hezbollah also has Iranian copies of TOWs, called Toophan. Iranians have learnt how to use the lot on their own. First, they worked on the missiles imported in the time of the Shakh. Iranians also created the missiles version, Toophan-2 with a strong tandem fighting part.

Finally, Hezbollah got hold of various kinds of the Israeli and American armaments after the army of Southern Lebanon split up.

Thus, Hezbollahs arsenal, labeled invincible by the Israeli military, is an extremely diverse set of samples from all over the world, and the larges part of it is obsolete. The Israeli fought against the major anti-tank systems that Hezbollah uses back in the 1973 and 1982 wars.

As far as Kornet-E, Metis-M and Vampire are concerned (which caused a great stir) we cannot rule out that Syria handed a small number of these systems to Hezbollah to spite the Israeli without taking any risk. Even if this was the case (which has not been proved so far), it was an insignificant amount. More likely, it was just a couple of samples. Syrias enormous and totally obsolete army has a very limited number of expensive modern systems to be able to hand them to guerrillas from neighboring countries. Syria holds Kornet-E and Metis-M dear to be on the safe side particularly, for the even of hostilities with Israel. Even though the systems were found in southern Lebanon, they hardly accounted for much in the Israelis losses. Main problems of the Israeli army in the last Lebanese campaign were not connected with Russian missiles. This is the fact that Israeli military are trying to hide, creating scandals about Moscow.

Where Hezbollah Got Arms from
Name Description Possible source
Handheld anti-tank grenade launchers
RPG-7V (Saghegh) Developed in 1961. Armor penetration of 130mm. Exported by the Soviet Union to most Arab nations. It was also output in Iran (under the name of Saghegh), Iraq and a number of other countries.
RPG-18 Developed in the USSR in the early 1970s. One-time grenade launcher with armor penetration of 200mm. Exported by the Soviet Union to a number of Arab nations.
RPG-29 Developed in the USSR in the late 1980s. The armor penetration comes to 650mm. Exported to Syria in the 1990s.
M72LAW Developed in the United States in the 1960s. One-time grenade launcher with the armor penetration of 300m. The U.S. exported it to different countries in the Middle East, including Lebanon.
Anti-tank missile systems
Malyutka (AT-3 Sagger*, Raad) Developed in the USSR in 1960. Wire-guided, the armor penetration hovers between 200 and 800mm (modernized versions). In the Yom Kippur Arab-Israeli War in 1973 these systems hit a half of all destroyed Israeli tanks. Exported to Syria, Egypt, Iran and other countries in the Middle East. Has been produced in Iran since 1995 under the name of Raad
Fagot (AT-4 Spigot*) Developed in the USSR in 1970. Wire-guided. The armor penetration reaches 200-460mm Exported to Jordan, Iran, Egypt, Libya, Syria and other Middle East countries.
Konkurs (AT-5 Spandel*, Towsan-1) Developed in the USSR in 1974. Wire-guided. The armor penetration of 250mm Exported to Syria. Since 1998 it has been produced in Iran under the name of Towsan-1
Metis-M** (AT-13 Saxhorn*) Developed in Russia in the early 1990s. Wire-guided. The armor penetration of 900mm In the 1990s, it has been exported to Syria
Kornet** (AT-14*) Developed in Russia in the early 1990s. Laser-beam-guided. The armor penetration of 1000-1200 mm Has been exported to Syria in the 1990s
M220 TOW (Toophan, Toophan-2) Developed by U.S.-based Hughes in 1970. Wire-guided. The armor penetration is over 700 mm Has been exported by the US in the 1970s-1990s to the armies of Iran, Egypt, Lebanon and some other Arab nations. It is also produced by Iranian Aerospace Industries Organisation under the names of Toophan Toophan-2
Milane Developed by France-based Nord Aviation and Germanys Messerschmitt Bolkow Blohm in 1962. Wire-guided. The armor penetration reaches 1,000 mm. Exported to Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Libya.
Surface-to-Surface Missiles
Grad (Grad-P, Arash, Hadid) Developed in the USSR in the early 1960s. Fires with rockets of the 122mm caliber. The launcher has from 1 up to 40 rockets that guide themselves depending on the version. The fire ranges comes to 40km (10.8km a one-barrel Grad-P) Exported by the Soviet Union to number of Middle East countries. Has been output in series in Egypt, Iran and Iraq (under the names of Arash and Hadid)
Type 63 (Khaseb) Developed in China in the early 1960s. An additional multiple launch rocket system has 12 guided rockets with the caliber of 107. The range is of 8.5km. Exported to Syria. Since 1986 has been produced in Iran under the name of Khaseb
Raad Developed in Syria. Caliber of 200mm. The range is of 45km. Produced in Syria
Shahin-1 Developed in Iran. The caliber is of 333mm. The fire range is of 13 km. Produced in Iran.
Shahin-2 Developed in Iran. The caliber is of 333mm. The fire range is of 20 km. Produced in Iran.
Oghab Developed in Iran in the mid-1980s on the basis of the Chinese Type 83 multiple launch rocket system. The launcher has 3 guiding points for the rockets of the 230mm caliber. The range comes to 35-40km. Produced in Iran.
Fajr-3 Developed in Iran in the early 1990s. The 12-barrel system of volley fire. The caliber is of 240mm, the range is of 30km (under other reports 45km) Produced in Iran.
Fajr-5** Developed in Iran in the early 1990s on the base of Fajr-3. The launcher has 4 guiding points for the rockets of the 333 mm caliber. The range is of 50-75 km. Produced in Iran. There are reports that Syria develops its own Fajr-5 on the basis of the Khaibar-1 multiple launch rocket system of the 302 mm caliber with the range of up to 100 km.
Zelzal-1** Developed in Iran in the early 1990s. The rocket with the range from 120 to 150 km. Produced in Iran
Zelzal-2** Developed in Iran in the early 1990s. The rocket with the caliber of 610 mm. The launcher has one guiding. The fire range is of 200-250 km Produced in Iran
Anti-Ship Missiles
YJ-82 (C-802, Noor, CSS--8 Saccade*) Developed in China in the mid-1980s. The fire range is of 120 km Exported to Iran and produced in the country under the name of Noor.
Mikhail Barabanov, scientific editor of Arms Export

All the Article in Russian as of Aug. 21, 2006

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