Skip to content

Iran Makes So Many Kinds Of Grad Launchers

March 1, 2023
IRGC Grad launchers on locally made L series trucks. Via Iranian media.

It’s no secret the Islamic Republic’s various ground forces–whether they are inside the country or not–field significant quantities of artillery. The most common are launchers for small and large caliber unguided rockets and the vehicle fleet needed for transporting them keeps growing. Evidence of this trend is overabundant and found in three countries: Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon. The same condition prevails at home. Since the regular army and the Revolutionary Guard participate in at least a handful of exercises each year the resulting media coverage exposes the inventory each branch maintains. What’s noticeable at this point is every single land warfare formation in Iran’s military institutions have rocket artillery and their preferred type is the Soviet vintage Grad.

The support of China and North Korea were essential for Iran’s military-industrial sector to mass-produce rocket artillery. While both countries could have helped transfer the production line for 107mm rockets–the ubiquitous Type 63–it was North Korea in particular who helped Iran’s Defense Industries Organization (DIO) build up its Fajr or Fadjr rocket launchers that are differentiated based on their caliber. The Fajr-1 is the Iranian copy of the Type 63 107mm rocket. The more complex Fajr-3, for example, has 12 barrels for its 240mm rockets. Another variant is assembled in Myanmar while the same launchers have been sold to the UAE and Uganda at undetermined dates. This model was then enhanced by North Korea to be loaded with 22, rather than just 12, rockets.

Owing to its size and weight the Fajr-5 is only loaded with four 333mm rockets while the elusive Fajr-4 (sometimes referred to as “F4CL”) is a modular short-range ballistic missile. An important characteristic these rocket launchers have, which also point to their North Korean origin, are the circular base that carry the launch tubes. This is also seen in the Artesh and the IRGC’ Grad launchers that aren’t of Soviet origin–these are carried by outdated Ural-375D trucks–and are adapted to many different trucks. The original 9M22 Grad with dimensions of 122x2799mm was introduced by the Soviet Union in the early 1960s as a new generation of short-range battlefield rockets. Iranian Grad launchers, by the way, are known as the “Arash” and have a basic 400 meter to 20 kilometer range or an extended range variant reaching 40 km away. As a complete artillery system Arash rockets are tailored for launchers with 40 tubes arranged in two sets on a locally assembled Mercedes Benz L Series truck. (Pictured above.)

Iran’s DIO still manufacture new Fajr-series launchers for 240mm and 333mm caliber battlefield rockets. Via Iranian media.

By the 2010s the DIO introduced an updated Grad launcher using a MAN truck, rebranded in Iran as the HM-20, as its transporter. From the 2020s onward another vehicle was utilized, an Iveco commercial truck, and these were spotted in Iraq. A curious difference was the number of tubes on these Iveco-based Grad launchers. The ones delivered to the Iranian naval branch had just 16 tubes while their Iraqi counterparts had 24 tubes. The DIO also offers a bespoke Grad launcher for pickup trucks with eight tubes and these were also sent to Iraq. What this multi-year process for developing Grad launchers indicates is the DIO’s authority reaches deep into the country’s automotive manufacturing (that’s reliant on licensed assembly with foreign partners) and that civilian products are widely available to the military-industrial sector.

Since 2018 the Iranian military’s preference for mobile rocket launchers found a new platform in the Aras 2 pickup truck. Though not being as robust as a Toyota Land Cruiser the Aras/Aras 2 are eminently adaptable and fit a dazzling selection of weapons. Multiple Aras 2’s have been spotted with the 12-tube 107mm rocket launchers once found on the prolific Safir and Zafar jeeps. Different calibers of rockets are likewise available for the Aras 2’s modular launchers, including Grad rockets. The Aras 2 can support the tubes for launching heftier short-range Falaq-series 240mm or 333mm rockets.

Because the regular army and IRGC have doctrines that emphasize maintaining large ground forces with an abundance of portable heavy weapons the DIO possess the expertise for adapting Grad launchers for whatever mission. This includes the single tube “Bostan” launcher for sections of infantry who need a lightweight artillery piece that fires rockets. If specified the DIO make extended range Arash 122mm munitions with improved guidance systems. The greatest proof for the multitude of Iranian rocket artillery is these can be delivered and exported in high volumes to an end user. The best and most recent example are Iraq’s own army and Iraqi militias battling ISIS in the late 2010s.

An Aras pickup truck with a Grad launcher. Via Iranian media.

Comments are closed.