Hezbollah (“Party of God”) is a Lebanese political party and militant group with close ties to Iran and Syria’s Assad regime. It is frequently identified as an Iranian proxy, as the Party supports Tehran’s regional ambitions in exchange for military, financial, and political support.1
Hezbollah is the world’s most heavily armed non-state actor, and has been described as “a militia trained like an army and equipped like a state.”2
This is especially true with regard to its missile and rocket forces, which Hezbollah has in vast quantities arrayed against Israel.
Hezbollah’s arsenal is comprised mostly of small, man-portable and unguided surface-to-surface artillery rockets. Although these devices lack precision, their sheer number make them effective weapons of terror. According to Israeli sources, Hezbollah held around 15,000 rockets and missiles on the eve of the 2006 Lebanon War, firing nearly 4,000 at Israel over the 34-day conflict. Hezbollah has since expanded its rocket arsenal, today estimated at 130,000.3
In May 2006, Hezbollah’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah explained that “The purpose of our rockets is to deter Israel from attacking Lebanese civilians…The enemy fears that every time he confronts us, whenever there are victims in our ranks among Lebanese civilians, this will lead to a counter-barrage of our rockets, which he fears.”4
Indiscriminate rocket fire, particularly from small, easily transportable launchers makes the suppression of fires with airpower more challenging. This forces Israel to rely more heavily on ground forces in a conflict. Lacking any air force of its own, Hezbollah prefers ground wars in its own territory to bombardment from the skies. As Human Rights Watch notes, however, these arguments do not justify civilian targeting and casualties under international law.5
The continued growth of Hezbollah’s missile and rocket forces is undesirable for several reasons. It may, for example, embolden the party to overstep Israeli red lines. Hezbollah’s push to acquire longer-ranged and precision-guided munitions could likewise spur Israel into preemptive action. Hezbollah’s weapons acquisition also raises the prospects for the proliferation of missile technology and know-how. According to Saudi and UAE officials, Hezbollah militants have worked with their Houthi forces in rocket development and launch divisions.6 Hezbollah forces in Syria and Iraq similarly operate with various Shiite militias. Growing relations among these groups presents risks for the dissemination of missile technology and knowledge.
Note: This is not a definitive list of Hezbollah’s rocket arsenal, and the profiles below rely solely on open-source material.
107 & 122 mm ‘Katyusha’ Rockets
Fajr-1 / Chinese 107 mm Rockets
333 mm Shahin-1
122 mm Type-81 Rocket
Fajr-3 and Fajr-5
Raad-2 and Raad-3 / 220 mm Uragan-type Rockets
302 mm Khaibar-1 / M-302 / B-302
Zelzal-1 and Zelzal-2
Fateh-110 / M-600
C-802 / Yingji-2 / Noor
According to Israeli tank commanders at the front of the 2006 War, Hezbollah’s anti-tank missiles damaged or destroyed Israeli vehicles on about 20% of their hits.60 The party successfully struck nearly 50 Israeli Merkava tanks during the conflict, penetrating the armor of 21. Hezbollah used ATGMs against buildings and Israeli troop bunkers as well. As Anthony Cordesman writes, “More [Israeli] infantry soldiers were killed by anti-tank weapons than in hand-to-hand combat.”61 While fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq, Hezbollah has effectively used ATMs to counter suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive devises (SVBIED) launched by the extremist group.62
9M14 Malyutka (NATO: AT-3 Sagger)
9K111 Fagot (NATO: AT-4 Spigot)
9M113 Konkurs (NATO: AT-5 Spandrel)
9K115-2 Metis-M (NATO: AT-13 Saxhorn-2)
9M133 Kornet-E (NATO: AT-14 Spriggan)
Most of Hezbollah’s antiair missile systems offer only a relatively small area of protection. They nevertheless force Israeli aircraft to fly at higher altitudes, reducing Israel’s ability to accurately strike ground-based targets.80
Israeli policymakers and military officers have consistently reiterated their concerns about Hezbollah acquiring more sophisticated air defenses from Bashar al-Assad’s Syria.
9K32 Strela-2 (NATO: SA-7 Grail)
9K33 Osa (NATO: SA-8 Gecko)
9K34 Strela-3 (NATO: SA-14 Gremlin)
9K310 Igla-1 (NATO: SA-16 Gimlet) and 9K38 Igla (NATO: SA-18 Grouse)
9K40 Buk-M2 (NATO: SA-17 Grizzly)
Pantsyr-S1 (NATO: SA-22 Greyhound)
- J. Michael Cole, “Opening Pandora’s Box: If Israel Strikes Iran, What About Hezbollah?” The Diplomat, October 13, 2012, https://thediplomat.com/2012/10/opening-pandoras-box-hezbollah-in-israels-iran-thinking/.
- Steven Erlanger and Richard A. Oppel Jr., “A Disciplined Hezbollah Surprises Israel With Its Training, Tactics and Weapons,” New York Times, August 7, 2006, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/07/world/middleeast/07hezbollah.html?pagewanted=all.
- Center for Preventive Action, “Israel and Hezbollah: Deterrence and the Threat of Miscalculation,” Council on Foreign Relations, September 11, 2017, https://www.cfr.org/report/israel-and-hezbollah-deterrence-and-threat-miscalculation; International Crisis Group, “Israel, Hizbollah and Iran: Preventing Another War in Syria,” February 8, 2018, https://www.crisisgroup.org/middle-east-north-africa/eastern-mediterranean/syria/182-israel-hizbollah-and-iran-preventing-another-war-syria.
- Udi Dekel et al., The Quiet Decade: In the Aftermath of the Second Lebanon War, 2006-2016,” Institute for National Security Studies, July 2017, 120, http://www.inss.org.il/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/memo167_6.pdf.
- Eric Goldstein and Bonnie Docherty, “Civilians under Assault: Hezbollah’s Rocket Attacks on Israel in the 2006 War,” Human Rights Watch, August 28, 2007, https://www.hrw.org/report/2007/08/28/civilians-under-assault/hezbollahs-rocket-attacks-israel-2006-war.
- Ellen Francis and Laila Bassam, “Lebanon’s Hezbollah denies sending weapons to Yemen,” Reuters, November 20, 2017, https://https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-nasrallah/lebanons-hezbollah-denies-sending-weapons-to-yemen-idUSKBN1DK22D.
- Human Rights Watch, “Q & A: 122mm Cluster Munition Rockets,” October 19, 2006, https://www.hrw.org/news/2006/10/19/q-122mm-cluster-munition-rockets; William M. Arkin, Divining Victory: Airpower in the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War, (Maxwell Air Force Base: Air University Press, 2011), 56, https://books.google.com/books?id=Q-NiAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA35&lpg=PA35&dq=Hezbollah+Fajr-5&source=bl&ots=pYWo8nRcZZ&sig=zQnmVCQ58vnDJ5TU0x0SnytQ6Ag&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiIl6CM7KzXAhWr6IMKHVW_Aco4ChDoAQhRMAc#v=onepage&q=Hezbollah%20Fajr-5&f=false.
- Human Rights Watch, “Q & A: 122mm Cluster Munition Rockets”; Israel Missile Defense Association, “Grad Katyusha,” June 13, 2007, http://imda.org.il/english/Threats/threats_missile.asp?missileid=10.
- David Schapiro and Katherine Zimmerman, “Estimates for Hezbollah’s Arsenal,” AEI Critical Threats June 29, 2010, https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/estimates-for-hezbollahs-arsenal#_ednaa371eb0fcd676f2aa5b2de7656fc4ed4.
- Patrick Devenny, “Hezbollah’s Strategic Threat to Israel,” Middle East Forum, Winter 2006, http://www.meforum.org/806/hezbollahs-strategic-threat-to-israel.
- BBC News, “Hezbollah’s rocket force,” July 18, 2006, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5187974.stm; Robert Wall et al., “Harsh Trajectories,” Aviation Week, August 7, 2006, http://archive.aviationweek.com/issue/20060807.
- James Klatell, “Hezbollah’s Rocket Science,” CBS News, July 20, 2006, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/hezbollahs-rocket-science/.
- “NORINCO 107 mm (12-round) Type 63 and Type 81 multiple rocket systems,” in IHS Jane’s Land Warfare Platforms: Artillery & Air Defence 2012-2013, ed. Christopher Foss and James O’Halloran (United Kingdom: IHS, 2012), 274-276; Devenny, “Hezbollah’s Strategic Threat to Israel.”
- Army Recognition, “Type 63 107 mm Multiple rocket launcher system,” April 4, 2011, https://www.armyrecognition.com/china_artillery_vehicles_and_weapon_systems_uk/type_63_107_mm_multiple_rocket_launcher_system_data_sheet_specifications_information_description_uk.html; Jane’s Artillery & Air Defence, 275.
- N.R. Jenzen-Jones, Yuri Lyamin, and Galen Wright, “Iranian Falaq-1 and Falaq-2 Rockets in Syria,” Armament Research Services, May 2014, http://www.armamentresearch.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/ARES-Research-Report-No.-2-Iranian-Falaq-1-Falaq-2-Rockets-in-Syria.pdf.
- Anthony Cordesman, “Iran’s Rocket and Missile Forces and Strategic Options,” CSIS, October 7, 2014, 54, https://csis-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/legacy_files/files/publication/141007_Iran_Rocket_Missile_forces.pdf.
- Arkin, Divining Victory, 32.
- Jane’s Artillery & Air Defence, 292-293.
- Human Rights Watch, “Q & A: 122mm Cluster Munition Rockets.”
- Jane’s Artillery & Air Defence, 273; Human Rights Watch, “Civilians under Assault.”
- Yossi Melman, “Hezbollah Expected to Launch 100 Missiles a Day at Tel Aviv,” Haaretz, April 8, 2011, https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/haaretz-wikileaks-exclusive-hezbollah-expected-to-launch-100-missiles-a-day-at-tel-aviv-1.354826.
- BBC, “Hezbollah’s rocket force”; Jane’s Artillery & Air Defence, 290.
- Cordesman, 17.
- BBC, “Hezbollah’s rocket force”; Jane’s Artillery, 288-290.
- Benjamin Lambeth, “Air Operations in Israel’s War Against Hezbollah: Learning from Lebanon and Getting It Right in Gaza” (Rand Corporation: 2011), 94, https://books.google.com/books?id=IT4rB0V6fDQC&pg=PA92&lpg=PA92&dq=Zelzal+1&source=bl&ots=bkh-32_XZA&sig=wOolW9JUqnXtBVTcZBucvAKJAIc&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjzsJX7jI_XAhWD0iYKHVFqDCU4ChDoAQhCMAU#v=onepage&q=Zelzal%201&f=false.
- SBS News, “Rocket barrage hits Israel,” February 24, 2015, https://www.sbs.com.au/news/rocket-barrage-hits-israel.
- Human Rights Watch, “Civilians under Assault”; Sergey V. Gurov, “BM-27 Uragan,” Military Today, http://www.military-today.com/artillery/bm27_uragan.htm.
- Aviation Week, “High Trajectories.”
- Human Rights Watch, “Civilians under Assault.”
- Yuri Lyamin and N.R. Jenzen-Jones, “Assessment of the Khaibar-1 Rockets Captured by the IDF,” Armament Research Services, March 12, 2014, http://armamentresearch.com/assessment-of-the-khaibar-1-rockets-captured-by-the-idf/.
- Stratfor, “Examining Hamas’ Rockets,” July 10, 2014, https://worldview.stratfor.com/article/examining-hamas-rockets#axzz367gaGV7K?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=official&utm_campaign=link.
- Aviation Week, “High Trajectories.”
- Gili Cohen, “Hamas Firing Long-range M-302 Rockets at Israel, Capable of 150-km Distance,” Haaretz, July 9, 2014, https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.603957.
- Lambeth, Air Operations in Israel’s War Against Hezbollah, 92-93.
- Jane’s Artillery & Air Defence, 290-291.
- Nicholas Blanford, “Warriors of God: Inside Hezbollah’s Thirty-Year Struggle Against Israel,” (New York: Random House Publishing Group, October 2011), 338, https://books.google.com/books?id=lJWGvIcmODoC&pg=PA337&lpg=PA337&dq=Hezbollah+Uragan&source=bl&ots=zBUq1-aea2&sig=wa0aUucgc1JitWX4ZQtojH56mJA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiCyaGVg6DXAhWBx4MKHf9lCg4Q6AEITjAJ#v=onepage&q=Hezbollah%20Uragan&f=false.
- Anthony Cordesman, “The Lessons of the Israeli-Lebanon War,” CSIS, March 11, 2018, slide 17, https://csis-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/legacy_files/files/media/csis/pubs/080311_lessonleb-iswar.pdf.
- Aviation Week, “High Trajectories.”
- Seymour Hersh, “Watching Lebanon,” The New Yorker, August 21, 2006, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2006/08/21/watching-lebanon; Mark W. Pontin, “The Missiles of August,” MIT Technology Review, August 16, 2006, https://www.technologyreview.com/s/406282/the-missiles-of-august/.
- Arkin, Divining Victory, 57.
- Missile Threat, “Fateh-110,” August 9, 2016, https://missilethreat.csis.org/missile/fateh-110/
- Jonathan Lis and Amos Harel, “Syria Gave Advanced M-600 Missiles to Hezbollah, Defense Officials Claim,” Haaretz, May 5, 2010, https://www.haaretz.com/news/syria-gave-advanced-m-600-missiles-to-hezbollah-defense-officials-claim-1.288356.
- Tamir Eschel, “Iran: We supplied ballistic guided rockets to Hezbollah,” Defense Update, November 24, 2014, http://defense-update.com/20141124_fatah110.html#.VH47w8IcQdU.
- AEI Critical Threats, “Estimates for Hezbollah’s Rocket Arsenal.”
- Daniel Kurtzer, “A Third Lebanon War,” Council on Foreign Relations, July 2010, https://www.cfr.org/sites/default/files/pdf/2010/07/CPA_contingencymemo_8.pdf.
- Mona Alami, “Hezbollah Rocket Inventories Worry Israel, U.S.,” Inter Press Service, May 2, 2010, http://www.globalissues.org/news/2010/05/02/5455.
- Missile Threat, “SS-1 (Scud A/B/C/D),” last updated August 11, 2016, https://missilethreat.csis.org/missile/scud/.
- Mark Mazzetti and Thom Shanker, “Arming of Hezbollah Reveals U.S. and Israeli Blind Spots,” New York Times, July 19, 2006, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/19/world/middleeast/19missile.html.
- Andrew McGregor, “Hezbollah’s Tactics and Capabilities in Southern Lebanon,” Jamestown Foundation, August 1, 2006, https://jamestown.org/program/hezbollahs-tactics-and-capabilities-in-southern-lebanon/.
- “CSS-N-4 ‘Sardine’ (YJ-8/YJ-8A/C-801); CSS-N-8 ‘Saccade’ (YJ-82/YJ-83/C-802/C-802A/Noor/Ghader),” in IHS Jane’s Weapons: Naval 2016-2017, ed. David Ewing & Malcolm Fuller (United Kingdom: IHS, 2016), 3-7; Cordesman, “The Lessons of the Israeli-Lebanon War,” slide 48.
- Uzi Rubin, “Hizballah’s Rocket Campaign Against Northern Israel: A Preliminary Report,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, August 31, 2006, http://jcpa.org/article/hizballahs-rocket-campaign-against-northern-israel-a-preliminary-report/.
- NYT, “Arming of Hezbollah.”
- Missile Threat, “SS-N-26 “Strobile” (P-800 Oniks)/ Yakhont / Yakhont-M / Bastion (launch systems),” last updated December 2, 2016, https://missilethreat.csis.org/missile/ss-n-26/.
- J. Dana Stuster, “Why Hezbollah’s New Missiles Are a Problem for Israel,” Foreign Policy, January 3, 2014, http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/01/03/why-hezbollahs-new-missiles-are-a-problem-for-israel/.
- Darien Cavanaugh, “Russia is teaching Hezbollah some terrifying new tricks,” War is Boring, January 27, 2016, http://theweek.com/articles/601435/russia-teaching-hezbollah-some-terrifying-new-tricks.
- Foreign Policy, “Why Hezbollah’s New Missiles Are a Problem for Israel.”
- NYT, “A Disciplined Hezbollah.”
- Cordesman, “The Lessons of the Israeli-Lebanon War,” slide 45.
- Ben Hubbard, “Iran Out to Remake Mideast With Arab Enforcer: Hezbollah,” New York Times, August 27, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/27/world/middleeast/hezbollah-iran-syria-israel-lebanon.html?action=click&contentCollection=world&module=NextInCollection®ion=Footer&pgtype=article&version=series&rref=collection%2Fseries%2Ftehran-turn&mtrref=undefined.
- Cordesman, “The Lessons of the Israeli-Lebanon War,” slide 43.
- Arkin, Divining Victory, 37; BBC, “Tough Lessons for Israeli armour.”
- SIPRI, 411.
- Arkin, Divining Victory, 38. One theory asserts that this operation was actually conducted by Hamas militants, trying to renew fighting between Israel and Hezbollah.
- AEI Critical Threats, “Assessing Hezbollah’s Rocket Arsenal.”
- Arkin, Divining Victory, 37.
- Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, “Armaments, Disarmament and International Security,” (Oxford University Press, 2007), 410, https://books.google.com/books?id=Ys0bJwNfF_MC&pg=PA410&lpg=PA410&dq=Hezbollah+Uragan+rocket&source=bl&ots=uKNhB0u4uI&sig=qqrk5F4zG1s2UlDIRGTuggMA5GE&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi6rNGlxaLXAhWJJiYKHZ_MAHUQ6AEIOjAD#v=onepage&q=Hezbollah%20Uragan%20rocket&f=false; AEI Critical Threats, “Estimates for Hezbollah’s Arsenal.”
- NYT, “A Disciplined Hezbollah”; War is Boring, “Russia is teaching Hezbollah some terrifying new tricks.”
- John Pike, “AT-4 SPIGOT Anti-Tank Guided Missile,” Federation of American Scientists, January 22, 1999, https://fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/land/row/at4spigot.htm.
- SIPRI, 410.
- Yuri Lyamin et al., “Introduction to the 9M113 Konkurs ATGM,” Armament Research Services, July 28, 2016, http://armamentresearch.com/introduction-to-the-9m113-konkurs-atgm/.
- Jonathan Marcus, “Tough lessons for Israeli armour,” BBC, August 15, 2006, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4794829.stm.
- Haaretz, “Hezbollah Expected to Launch 100 Missiles a Day at Tel Aviv.”
- BBC, “Tough lessons for Israeli armour”; Blanford, Warriors of God, 338.
- SIPRI, 410-411.
- “Merkava v Kornet E ATGM,” Al Jazeera video on YouTube, June 5, 2010, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzVEduKGUws.
- Josh Cohen, “If Russia Is Supplying Weapons to Hezbollah — Watch Out,” War is Boring, February 17, 2016, http://warisboring.com/if-russia-is-supplying-weapons-to-hezbollah-watch-out/.
- Robert Beckhusen, “Israel Plans to Counter Hezbollah With Hundreds of Surface-to-Surface Missiles,” War is Boring, December 31, 2016, https://warisboring.com/israel-plans-to-counter-hezbollah-with-hundreds-of-surface-to-surface-missiles/.
- Adam Rawnsley, “Iran-Backed Terror Group Parades New Anti-Aircraft Missiles in Iraq,” War is Boring (Medium), March 19, 2015, https://medium.com/war-is-boring/iran-backed-terror-group-parades-new-anti-aircraft-missiles-in-iraq-ca0204079eb0.
- Army Recognition, “Misagh-1 Man portable air defence missile system,” January 5, 2012, https://www.armyrecognition.com/iran_iranian_army_missile_systems_vehicles_uk/misagh-1_man_portable_air_defence_missile_system_technical_data_sheet_specifications_pictures.html; Jane’s Artillery & Air Defense, 620-622.
- Army Recognition, “Misagh-2 Man portable air defence missile system,” January 5, 2012, https://www.armyrecognition.com/iran_iranian_army_missile_systems_vehicles_uk/misagh-2_man_portable_air_defence_missile_system_technical_data_sheet_specifications_pictures.html; Jane’s Artillery & Air Defence, 620-622.
- War is Boring, “Iran-Backed Terror Group Parades New Anti-Aircraft Missiles in Iraq.”
- Jane’s Artillery & Air Defence, 590-592.
- McGregor, “Hezbollah’s Tactics and Capabilities in Southern Lebanon.”
- Jane’s Artillery & Air Defence, 647-649.
- Yiftah Shapir, “Syrian Weapons in Hizbollah Hands,” Institute for National Strategic Studies, February 14, 2013, http://www.inss.org.il/publication/syrian-weapons-in-hizbollah-hands/; Haaretz, “Hezbollah Expected to Launch 100 Missiles a Day at Tel Aviv”; AEI Critical Threats, “Assessing Hezbollah’s Rocket Arsenal.”
- Jane’s Artillery & Air Defence, 490-494.
- Army Recognition, “Israeli Army believes Hezbollah has obtained SA-8 Russian air defence missile from Syria,” January 25, 2012, https://www.armyrecognition.com/january_2012_army_military_defense_industry_news/israeli_army_believes_hezbollah_has_obtained_sa-8_russian_air_defence_missile_from_syria_2501123.html.
- Yifa Yaakov et al., “US official: Israel hit Hezbollah-bound missiles in Syria,” Times of Israel, October 31, 2013, https://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-attacked-twice-in-syria-destroying-sa-8-missiles/.
- Jane’s Artillery & Air Defence, 650-652.
- INSS, “Syrian Weapons in Hizbollah Hands”; AEI Critical Threats, “Assessing Hezbollah’s Rocket Arsenal.”
- AEI Critical Threats, “Assessing Hezbollah’s Rocket Arsenal.”
- Judah Ari Gross, “If Hezbollah has the SA-17, it’s a ‘big deal,’ expert says,” Times of Israel, April 8, 2016, https://www.timesofisrael.com/if-hezbollah-has-the-sa-17-its-a-big-deal-expert-says/.
- Gabe Fisher, “Israeli jets reportedly attack convoy on Lebanon-Syria border,” Times of Israel, January 30, 2013, https://www.timesofisrael.com/israeli-jets-reportedly-penetrate-lebanese-airspace/.
- Times of Israel, “If Hezbollah has the SA-17, it’s a ‘big deal,’ expert says.”
- War is Boring, “If Russia Is Supplying Weapons to Hezbollah — Watch Out.”
- Missile Threat, “Pantsir S-1,” last updated May 4, 2017, https://missilethreat.csis.org/defsys/pantsir-s-1/.
- Amos Harel, “At UN, Netanyahu Reveals Details on Hezbollah Weapons Acquisitions,” Haaretz, October 2, 2015, https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.678540.