What kind of rockets is Hezbollah using?

First off, why are all news reports calling them “rockets” rather than “missiles”? Is there a difference?

Second, are these the latest generation of the old (pretty much ineffectual) SCUD missiles used by Iraq?

Third, what kind of warhead do they have? Do they pack much explosive punch, or are they simply for terror?

For the most part, according to reports, Hezbollah is using unguided rockets (Katyusha). “Missiles” in this context usually implies some sort of guidance system other than “Point it that way.” They have a high-explosive warhead of varying power. In reality, they are nothing more than a modern version of the ones used at Ft. McHenry “Oh the rockets red glare…”

The US Army has a very sophisticated version called theMLRS.

Specifically, these.

Is Hamas using a small home made rocket?


At one point, Hamas was launching rockets made in garages from pipes. These were the things they were firing from olive groves that got the groves bulldozed.

Hamas have often used the Qassam rocket. It’s essentially a pipe bomb with nozzles: grossly inaccurate and not good for much except scaring people. You could burn a house or two down if you did it while people were away at work.

Hezbollah are too far away to hit anything of strategic value with a Qassam, which is why they use Fajr (or Katyusha) rockets. They’re still unguided, but their range is much longer. They are significantly larger than a Qassam and are manufactured (not cobbled together). They require a little bit more infrastructure to operate, and are military hardware that you’d find in a real army. Neither the Qassam nor the Katyushas should be described as “long range” - both fall well short of the 1,000km rule of thumb that defines a short range ballistic missile (SRBM). While arbitrary, the 1,000km boundary is standard throughout the US Department of Defense and is also used by many of our allies.

For comparison, a Fajr-3 is about half the length and a quarter the diameter of a Scud-B, which is itself considered a very small missile. Some ICBMs are more than three times the size of a Scud in each dimension.

Although, you could say that a ballistic missile is kind of a “point it that way and let gravity do its thing” type of guidance system.

I don’t know what the applicable military industry nomenclature is, but just in terms of simple English, a “missile” is anything that’s projected (like an arrow or a rock) and “rocket” is a reference to the specific method of propulsion. Logically, speaking, you should be able to call them “explosive rocket missiles” or “rocket-propelled explosive missiles” or something like that. Of course, logic doesn’t always apply to language.

Another clarifying term: “guided missile.”

I’d add that the term “missile” while old–“He threw a missile [rock] at my head”-- today among experts implies a guidance package, although military personnel of the former USSR refer to their missiles as “rockets.”

Katyusha aren’t terribly accurate, but a lucky hit is a deadly hit. They are inexpensive to produce, highly mobile, and have great psychological impact. They also are truly defeaning when fired in volleys–itself an impressive sight.

Check out third photo of MLRS in action:


Yes, but you’re pointing it at a very precise location in space, and attempting to reach that point with a precisely calculated velocity, and steering the missile (and/or altering its thrust) to make sure that you hit that position-velocity condition. Only then are you letting gravity do its thing. The distinction is that a guided missile has a guidance and control subsystem; a battlefield rocket does not. The Russian language (as Carnac points out) does not make such a distinction - they have only the word “paket” (pronounced “rahk-yet”, slightly rolling the r) to describe both guided and unguided missiles.

They are also using the powerful C-802 anti-ship missle (as I learned in this thread).

According to stratfor.com, Hizbolla is using Syrian-made Fajr-3 rockets:

The Zelzal is apparently a version of the old Soviet Frog-7, according to “Global Security” webiste (has photo of missile and launcher):