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Hezbollah’s Growing Ballistic Missile Stockpile Turns From Terror Threat to Military Threat

by Greg on May 18, 2010

While there has been much discussion in recent weeks over whether or not Hezbollah actually received Scud short range ballistic missiles from Syria, its Hezbollah’s growing stocks of Syrian made M-600 battlefield short range missiles that may prove more threatening.

The M-600 is an improvement on the Iranian Fatah-110 missile, carrying a thousand pound warhead to ranges in excess of 300 kilometers. What makes these missiles a military, versus terror, threat is that they are fitted with GPS-aided inertial navigation. While the Scud is liquid fueled, which means it’s vulnerable to air strikes while fueling before launch, the M-600 is solid fuel and can be fired without preparation.

Most of the rockets Hezbollah rained down on Israel in the 2006 war were unguided; good for spreading terror, not so good at taking out point targets. A precise short-range ballistic missile would enable Hezbollah to target Israeli military installations, air bases and troop concentrations. Reports of Fatah-110 deliveries to Hezbollah first appeared in the Israeli press in 2007.

“With that threat in mind, the Israeli air force recently concluded a decade-long effort of redeploying most of its assets in southern bases, positioning them as far as possible from the Lebanese border for maximum protection. Fighter squadrons, which remain in northern and central Israel, are constantly training in emergency deployment to southern bases, should their home bases come under missile and rocket attacks.”

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s David Schenker says the much debated Scud deliveries to Hezbollah are “a tempest in a teapot.” He points out the logistical headaches of establishing the infrastructure for “the nearly 40 feet tall weapon and its challenging liquid fuel rocket.” The M-600, of which Hezbollah is reported to have around 200, is a much more dangerous weapon, he contends, with its 300 kilometer range, quoting a Hezbollah statement: “is the distance required for precise strikes in all the land of occupied Palestine”

– Greg Grant

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