Defense Update News:

Palestinians Use Extended Range 122mm Rockets form China for Long-Range Attacks

GRAD rockets spotted by IAF UAV on the launching rails, ready for firing. One rocket was launched before the remaining two were destroyed from the air. (IAF video , edited by Defense Update)By mid-day Wednesday (Dec. 31, 2008) the Palestinians fired more than 50 rockets at Israeli cities and settlements wounding five people. Some of these rockets reached as far as Beer Sheba, almost 40 km from the Gaza border. The Palestinians have already reached this range when the towns of Ashdod and Yavneh were attacked two days ago, killing one person and wounding several others. According to the Deputy Commander of Israel's Home Front Command, Brig. General Abraham Ben David, these attacks represent a new dimension for the enemy's capability but are probably at the limit of the Palestian rockets. (more...)

Previously Palestinian Hamas relied on the 'homemade' Qasam or Iranian produced Grad rockets, enhanced at the Hamas workshops. These rockets could reach 11-12 miles into the Israeli area. Today, Israel officially confirmed today that the rocket recently fired against Beer Sheba were not Qasam or standard Grads rockets that were already familiar to the Israelis, but but standard 122mm produced by China. Iran is also producing 122mm rockets, but the types produced by Iran are not capable of reaching a range of 30-40km (about 19 – 25 miles).

The Chinese rockets referred to by General Ben-David, are most likely rockets of the 122mm version of the WeiShi family of rocket, ( WS-1E) developed and produced by the Sichuan Aerospace Industry Corporation (SCAIC) also known as Base 062. According to Sinodefence website, these rockets didn't enter production, yet apparently, some reached Hammas and exploded in Beer Sheba. WS-1E was developed for the Type 90 truck mounted multiple rocket launchers. Several versions of different calibers of the WeiShi artillery rocket systems are employed by the People's Republic of China Army and were widely exported to third world countries.

The WS-1E rocket measures about 2.9 meters (depending on type and range) and weighs 61-74 kg. Uunlike the ubiquitous Grad, these Chinese rockets are using both fin and spin stabilization to achieve high accuracy and low dispersion of multiple rockets groups. Unlike the Grad which uses a fixed amount of propellant and warhead, designed for maximum range of 20 km, the Chinese rocket uses a modular design, where some of the payload can be exchanged for propellant.

The two versions of this rocket are the 20km and 40km. Both types use a single chamber FG-42/43 solid rocket propellant uses an advanced hydroxy-terminated polybutadine (HTPB) composition. The rocket's payload consists of a modular warhead weighing 18-22kg in the standard version (20-40km version) or 26-28kg in the short range version (10-12kg). The standard high explosive (RDX-based) warhead can be enhanced with the ZDB-2 blast fragmentation warhead, comprising high explosive charge, containing reduced RDX-based explosive charge, over 4,000 steel ball matrix liner and prefabricated fragmentation sheath, extending lethal effect over a radius of about 100 meters. A thermobaric warhead is also available, comprising of a 17kg warhead containing 6.2 kg of energetic composition and 1,500 steel balls for dual-purpose effect optimized for urban warfare, and the SZB-1 anti-personnel and anti-armor mines containing submunitions for area denial attack.

Norinco Type 90 mobile multiple rocket launcher . Image via Sinodefence.com