Skip to content

Israel Exports Some Of The Best Rocket Artillery

August 25, 2021
Via Elbit Systems.

Many aspects of the Jewish state’s military-industrial sector manage to avoid outside scrutiny. The name recall of the Iron Dome air defense system is understandable and UAVs such as the Hermes 450/900 enjoy strong demand from end users outside the Middle East. Yet the scale and variety of medium and long-range ordnance that are made in Israel don’t enjoy the same prestige. Elbit Systems now exports rocket artillery that used to be under the state-owned Israel Military Industries Systems purview. What Elbit Systems does offer modern armies is breathtaking; foremost is the rebranded PULS modular launcher. (Pictured above.)

It must be understood the PULS is a launch system for different calibers of surface-to-surface rockets. Elbit Systems developed it in such a way that it’s platform agnostic–the system doesn’t rely on a specific carrier vehicle so long as it supports the system’s full weight when traveling. The actual firepower the PULS delivers is up to the end user. If needed, Elbit Systems is able to supply guided and unguided 122mm Accular rockets–these are unlicensed copies of the Soviet vintage Grad munitions. The Accular brand applies to the larger 160mm rocket that’s available in guided and unguided variants. The 122mm Accular rocket has a maximum range of 35 kilometers while the 160mm Accular rocket has a maximum range of 40 km.

The most powerful munitions tailored for the PULS launcher are the Extra and the Predator Hawk. The Extra is quite well-known and has been used by Azerbaijan. The Extra is a 300mm munition with a guidance system–either GPS or inertial navigation–that allows a 10 meter circular error probability (CEP). This means the Extra, whose maximum range is as far away as 150 km, detonates on its target within a 10 meter radius. If its warhead is carrying an air burst munition this is extremely lethal. It’s also possible to load the PULS launcher with Extra rockets carrying penetrating warheads that demolish hardened fortifications. The largest munition for the PULS is the Predator Hawk, a 400mm ballistic missile, whose maximum range is 300 km with a CEP the same as the Extra. This makes it superior to older ballistic missiles such as the Soviet R-17 and the Tochka and nearly on par with the Lora short-range ballistic missile manufactured by Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI).

Of course, readers are no doubt aware Elbit Systems’ catalog of surface-to-surface rockets and missiles aren’t outliers. Rocket artillery are much coveted weapon systems in the Middle East. Even Syria, regardless of its present difficulties, managed to assemble a huge arsenal with Chinese and Iranian help during the 1990s. But Israel’s strongest rivals have directed their own military industries to develop the same kinds of weapons. In Turkey, for example, the state-owned aerospace manufacturer Roketsan makes a whole range of munitions analogous to Elbit Systems’ own. These are the TR-122 and the TRB-122 that are the same as the Accular with a 122mm “Grad” caliber.

Roketsan’s TRG-230 munition is similar to the Accular with a 160mm caliber albeit with superior range. The TRG-300 Tiger is Roketsan’s competition for Elbit Systems’ Extra. The dimensions of these accurized rockets/surface-to-surface missiles are nearly the same, being munitions with a 300mm caliber, but the Extra has a slight advantage in maximum range over the TRG-300. Flight characteristics and warhead types are almost identical though. Roketsan’s largest surface-to-surface munition is the Khan, also known as the Bora Khan, and is in direct competition with the Predator Hawk. It’s important to remember Roketsan’s expertise and production capacity for battlefield rockets is based on the technology transfers of Chinese conglomerate Norinco.

Israel’s relationship with Turkey might not be on a firm footing at the moment but there’s no doubt Iran is its regional nemesis. The ironic part is the Islamic republic’s state-owned military and aerospace industries have made enormous strides in enhancing their surface-to-surface battlefield rockets. Iranian “Grad” rockets are an acknowledged menace (launchers tailored for pickup trucks are made in Iran too) but it’s the larger calibers deployed with the Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) that are most threatening. The Fajr-3 along with the Fajr-5 and a new accurized large diameter launch system are the closest analogs to Elbit Systems’ own surface-to-surface missiles. But when it comes to SRBMs the IRGC enjoy a clear advantage since they have entire families at their disposal and these are likely stored in hardened underground locations in vast stockpiles.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and, just like Elbit Systems, Iranian munitions factories are able to create launcher systems that are suitable for different transporters. How Iranian military technology converges with Israel’s never fails to surprise.

Comments are closed.