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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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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark May 18, 2010 at 7:21 am

The Fateh is the most accurate SSM in service in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Being a hotspot deployment, one would expect the M-600 variation to possess the latest upgrades.

I wouldn't characterize Lebanon's application of 122 mm or 230 mm rockets during the 33-Day war as "terror", as the campaign had a military siege effect that was instrumental in the successful defense of the country.

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Blight May 18, 2010 at 12:42 pm

"GPS-aided inertial navigation"

Not sure what they mean by this, but I was under the impression that GPS was typically a primary guidance system with inertial as a backup.

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LeoC May 18, 2010 at 1:59 pm

I'm not sure either but I know inertial systems on missiles need precise launch location info for greater target accuracy. The M-600 missile may feed its GPS coordinates into its inertial system just prior to launch. If I was Hezbollah, I would not depend on GPS as a primary means of navigation if the USA can cut off GPS service (through selective availability) to the Lebanon area in a conflict with Israel.

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pleuris May 18, 2010 at 5:08 pm

I think you cannot do anything about it when Hezbollah attacks first. With litle or no warning it would take to long to make the GPS signal less accurate or cut of the GPS signal. And for the GPS guidance, The missiles could be INS guided and GPS corrects the guidance. But it only would be really precise if it has Military (GPS) codes.

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hawkdriver10 May 19, 2010 at 5:15 pm

Selective availability is not installed in our newer GPS satellites and hasn't been on for years. If SA was turned on (after saying it would never be used again) civil aviation would have extreme problems navigating and doing instrument approaches to airports

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C5 FE May 19, 2010 at 6:35 pm

Civil aviation would not be affected much at all. Pilots have back up approachs which to chose from. They could perform any of these:
Localizer
VOR
Non-Directional Beacon or NDB with complementary Automatic Direction Finder (ADF) installed on board
Localizer Type Directional Aid or LDA
Simplified Directional Facility or SDF
TACAN
SRA – Surveillance Radar Approach (known in some countries as an ASR approach)
ASR – Airport Surveillance Radar (Military designation for SRA)

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Trex May 18, 2010 at 11:13 am

Does the muslim terrorist nations have GPS satellites in orbit? If not then whose GPS are they using? Should be able to do a little homework and encrypt them out of the system by getting thier download freqs and jamming.

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shahryar hedayati February 12, 2013 at 3:38 pm
Tony C May 18, 2010 at 3:15 pm

Isreal will seek a preemptive strike capability against these launchers. This will make the Lebanese border less secure, not more secure, since using these missiles will cause a full scale military invasion from Isreal. Isreal will seek to force the missiles beyond deployable range and destroy all that they can locate.

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Day May 18, 2010 at 11:34 am

true, for a force such as hezbollah youd think theyd aim to keep warfare as aysimetric as possible to limit israels options politically, rather then give them a reason to use greater force.

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Max May 18, 2010 at 3:43 pm

I don't think (although I do not know for certain) that GPS can be selectively disabled from a particular area on the Earth's surface.

If it can, then the more the terrorists depend on GPS, the better, because when war starts, all we would have to do is disable GPS for their area and their weapons would become basically unguided rockets (except for inertial guidance, which only helps a little).

The 64 million dollar question is, can GPS be disabled in a local area or not?

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hffgsdgs April 15, 2013 at 2:56 pm

They have electro-optical tracking for terminal guidance. This is a major issue.

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msufalcon May 18, 2010 at 7:59 pm

GPS can be disabled in a limited area, but the problem is that it disables all GPS. Now I'm sure that our military would still be able to access it, but I don't know if the IDF gets the same access.

The only other GPS constellations availabe are the Russian and EU attempts which aren't quite as effective and all encompassing as the American GPS constellation.

GPS does have different settings where the military gets the most accurate data, but since the mid 1990s they US government made the commercial setting as accurate as the military setting. This can be changed rather quickly, and the commercial version will once again have far less accuracy.

I'm just paraphrasing but if you want to know more about the use of GPS and warfare, Mike Rip's book "The Precision Revolution"

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Anon May 19, 2010 at 12:26 am

Europe's GPS system is not completed yet but when it is completed it will be far more accurate than the US's GPS system

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Blight May 18, 2010 at 9:20 pm

And the Russians? Or in the long term iran or china may put up their own constellation. I wonder if you can have regional accuracy with a reduced constellation in geostationary orbits…

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E_Khun May 19, 2010 at 9:17 am

As far as I know the Russian system (GLONASS) is slowly falling apart, there are a lot of satellites missing. It's also concentrated on Russian (ex-USSR more likely) territory.

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Blight May 20, 2010 at 12:03 am

I suppose if the Chechens ever get SSMs they can use GLONASS-guided missiles against the Russians.

Hal May 19, 2010 at 2:23 am

A neat counter measure would be capture or acquire one of these weapons and reverse engineer it to decipher its software. Once this is done, you could develope a "hacking program" which would basically tell the missle to return to its lauch site after launch once the GPS inquirey was established.

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Locarno May 19, 2010 at 7:34 am

No, you really couldn't.
GPS guidance doesn't "talk" to the satellites – it just listens to the signal, does some maths and goes "…..right, so I'm currently here".

As described above, it's like a series of light-houses – you can't stop someone specific using them, just turn them off for a given part of the sweep (or switch them to an obscure frequency of infra-red, so only people with the right sensors can use them).

More to the point, for a GPS-aided inertial nav, it probably just goes "right…..where am I" before launch using GPS, so it knows accurately where it was, has where it's going in relation to that entered, and can use inertial tracking (accelerometers and gyroscopes) to make sure it goes there without looking 'outside' again.

Outside meddling effectively impossible – that's why inertial navigation has remains the guidance of choice for strategic weapons.

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guest May 19, 2010 at 2:23 am

"If I was Hezbollah, I would not depend on GPS as a primary means of navigation if the USA can cut off GPS service (through selective availability) to the Lebanon area in a conflict with Israel."

a/ if you think Obama is going to do anything to help Israel or hinder Hezbullah, you are as deluded as the so-called jews who helped elect him.

b/ Nothing personal, just following on your theme:

If you were Hezbollah, and if I were Israel you and whatever few of you were left would be walking to Syria right now (or whatever would be left of Syria, including the smoldering wrecks of the Russian fleet).

There is only one way to avoid a mid east conflagration.

STRIKE FIRST AND EXTERMINATE THE JIHADIS AND THEIR SUPPORTERS.

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Vstress May 19, 2010 at 10:40 am

GPS can easily be jammed.

Hence why there are 2 signals.

1 is unencrypted for the use of normal people

2 is encrypted for the use of US and coalition forces only.

If the missle does use GPS guidance, them I'm pretty certain the Israelis can easily mimick the signal!

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fulletk May 19, 2010 at 12:53 pm

Um, if you disable GPS in the area where Hezbollah is don't you also disable it for the Israelis attacking Hezbollah in the same area? Isn't Hezbollah smart enough to use the same GPS frequencies as the Israelis?

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robert graham May 19, 2010 at 2:35 pm

I see no reason why satellites are needed to broadcast GPS type signals for a conflict in the Middle East. Israel could easily use three or four of the many surpus 747 airplanes for the electroncics needed..

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Alex -DC May 19, 2010 at 12:25 pm

The middle-east confrontation will not end peacefully. Sooner or later there will be another major shooting war which again will solve nothing in the long run. The Israelies missed a huge opportunity in ’67 when they did not kick all the arabs out of Gaza, Jerusalem and West Bank. This song and dance will go on in perpetuity regardless even whether there is a Palestinian state or not. As far as these missiles go, this is just another drop in the same bucket.

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Kim May 19, 2010 at 6:11 pm

iran, turkey, russia and their allies will attack Israel and will be defeated. damascus will likely be nuked – it will be totally destroyed somehow. This WILL happen -maybe not this year (although it likely will be this year) but it WILL happen (all of this is in the bible- Ezekiel 38-39 and Isaiah 17:1)

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Jack May 19, 2010 at 7:10 pm

I was waiting for someone to pop up with a "Biblical interpretation"…

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Blight May 20, 2010 at 12:07 am

Isiah: The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.

I'm sure Damascus has been sacked at least once in it's history. Thus the prophecy has already been fulfilled. Moving on, next!

What I'm curious about is if it GPS signals work two ways-that is is information from a GPS receiver ever transmitted to the satellite? I'm under the impression that communication is one way, since that makes the receiver much less complicated and you won't need a massive antenna to ensure that your transmission gets to orbit (because you won't need to transmit from your receiver, just to read).

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A. Magnus May 20, 2010 at 7:08 pm

Hey Kim, the Ezekiel War already happened; Gog, home of the Ashkenazi Turks already invaded Palestine when it was a land without walled cities. You might want to reread your theology, because you're taking scripture out of context…

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Jon May 20, 2010 at 10:02 pm

A more interesting scenario is for Israeli EW units to hack and spoof the GPS to target Lebanese / Hizbollah targets so when they fire on Israel they target and hit their own forces.

Failing this Israel should rightly claim that as part of the Lebanese government any Hizbollah strike on Israeli citizens or soil will be treated as an act of war and a disproportionate retaliation will occur.

I am IDF Reserve Infantry and my greatest regret from Lebanon II was that our commanders didn't give us the freedom of action we needed to stop the missiles and get our kidnapped soldiers back (the stories I could tell you..)

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Trex May 20, 2010 at 10:14 pm

Granted, however, GPS sats are needed to obtain the locations and GPS sats are needed to guide the missles, ergo, no sat sig, no guidance. At least thats the way it appears to me.
Some suggested that you guide the missle back to its launcher, dont think that a hypersonic missle will make a very good U turn, do you. Maybe they can divert it to open water where it will be a big splash only.

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Christopher Rushlau May 26, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Let's try to rememer who the bad guys are here. Zionism is racism. How else do you make a sanctuary only for Jews (on stolen land, by the way) except by discriminating against non-Jews? Israel should try the American approach, which is justice and liberty for all. In the meantime, Israel is the bad guys: genocide: "kill all the Canaanites, man, woman, and child." Is that your idea of American?

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Eugene June 1, 2010 at 10:54 am

1) Anyone can be a citizen in Israel…Jews can become citizens more easily.

2) Israel was established as a safe haven for Jews. Very different to how America was established. There's absolutely nothing "racist" about it, seeing as how the people who established the country were Jewish (hence they want a safe haven for their kin).

3) Look at Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria…you're clearly blind to the policies of Arab states. Try to enter Syria with an Israeli stamp on your passport. Ever heard the tirades of Ahmadinejad (the Holocaust never happened, Israel should be wiped off the map)…not racist?

4) Ancient Israel committed some serious massacres. As did the Philistines. As did the Persians. As did the Greeks, the Romans, the Egyptians…do you see what I'm getting at? In the ancient world, slaughtering (or exiling) all the current residents of a nation and replacing them with your own was an accepted, and oft-used policy.

5) What land was stolen? The land that the Zionists in the early 20th century paid the Palestinians for? Or, was it the land that they received in a UN brokered deal which split the land between the Palestinians and the Jews? It's a mistake to assume that the Palestinians owned the land, it was the land of the British Mandate. Thus, England had full reign over it.

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blight May 26, 2010 at 3:02 pm

In all honesty, the Palestinians were sold out by the British. The UN stepped in and did a 50/50 divide (which is still screwing the Palestinians, who probably are the "real Jews" except they were forced to convert or be killed).

So in the end you have "the Jews coming home", though they are exiles from way back and are probably more European then Levantine. The 50/50 was unacceptable to the Palestinians as they got rump land, so the Arab War of '48 begins. Then Six-Day. Then Yom-Kippur, which establishes in the minds of Israeli citizens that "they have bled for this land and it is ours". Kind of hard to persuade someone that land isn't theirs when they've died on it.

I honestly think the way forward is to integrate the two countries, but Israel has an agenda of a "Jewish state", which is discriminatory and wouldn't last ten seconds if someone tried to apply it here in the United States. Reform won't be taken seriously if it comes from Palestinians, it has to come from the Israeli "Arab" minority living in Israel for the Israeli government to consider it seriously.

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Jim L. May 26, 2010 at 5:19 pm

Contrary to what is suggested here, inertial navigation is an accurate means of navigation, and has been since the 60,s. That is likely why the description is inertial navigation assited by GPS. If the GPS is compromised as has been suggested here, then the inertial system would finish the guidance task.
I recently did a course on an overview of Islam, and it was an eye opener. The first thing I discovered was that I actually knew nothing at all of the subject. The second thing is that Islam is not monolithic, that is, there is no pope-equivalent head of Islam. So some generalisations work, but not too many. Islam is very regionally and tribally based, which is what makes the subject such a challenge. Their loyalties are not so much national as tribal, which makes understanding situations hard for Westerners.
As for war, the arabs can lose a war many times, the Israelis can only lose once!

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