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Fajr-3 (1).jpg
A Fajr-3 on a Mercedes 2631 chassis in 2018, followed by its predecessor, the M-1985.
TypeRocket artillery
Place of originIran
Service history
In service1996–present
Used byIran
Wars2006 Lebanon War
Production history
ManufacturerShahid Bagheri Industrial Group[1]
Produced1990 or 1996 – ?
Mass15,000 kg (launcher)
45 kg (HE content)
90 kg (warhead)
407 kg (rocket)
Length10 m (launcher)[2]
5,200 mm (rocket)
Width2.5 m (launcher)[2]
Height3.34 m (launcher)[2]

Caliber240 mm
Elevation0 to 57 degrees[2]
Traverse90 degrees left/100 degrees right[2]
Rate of fire4–8 seconds[2]
12 rounds in 48-96 seconds (est)[3]
Maximum firing range43 km[2]

Engine280 hp, V-8 liquid-cooled, diesel engine[4]
Maximum speed 60 km/h (road)
25 km/h (off-road)[4]

The Fajr-3 (rarely Fadjr-3) (Persian: فجر-۳‎) is an Iranian heavy 240 mm intermediate-range[5] multiple-launch artillery rocket (MLRS).[4] The Fajr-3 is a license-built copy, with slight modifications, of a North Korean MLRS called the M-1985.[6] The Fajr-3 was introduced in the 1990s and has since been exported to Hamas and Hezbollah.

The Fajr-3 launcher fires twelve 5.2 meter long, 240 millimeter-calibre Fajr-3 artillery rockets, with a range of 43 kilometres, weighing 407 kilograms each and carrying 90-kilogram fragmentation warheads with 45 kg of high explosive (HE). Fajr means 'dawn' in Arabic.


The Fajr-3 is a copy of the North Korean M-1985 (seen here.)

During the Iran–Iraq War, around 100 North Korean M-1985 MLRS systems were exported to Iran.[7] The North Korean M-1985 was derived from Soviet Katyushas, and so the Fajr-3 is sometimes considered a Katyusha too.[8] With North Korean assistance, Iran's state-run Shahid Bagheri Industries later began to produce the system[1] under license.[9]

A minority of sources report that the Fajr-3 is built by Parchin Missile Industries.[10][11][12]

Dates for the production of the Fajr-3 are very unclear.[3] Iranian Defense Minister Akbar Torkan announced in March 1990 that mass production of the Fajr-3 had started.[13] Analysts in Abu Dhabi learned about the development less than a month later and described it as "one of the most important new weapons" entering production in Iran.[14]

Fajr-3 launch.

However, it was not until November 6, 1996 that Iran announced that they had actually built a Fajr-3 system.[10] The system was tested that same month[10] and entered service that year.[4] This discrepancy in start date may be the difference between first building a copy, and then an improved version of the system.[3] The development program for the Fajr-3 might have been run in conjunction with the development of the Oghab.[9]

Early versions of the Fajr-3 apparently had reduced range and it was not until December 1998 that Iran tested a rocket with the full 43 km range.[15] Fajr-3 rockets are known to have still been in production in 2006.[16]


A complete Fajr-3 system is manned by a crew of five and also includes one dedicated resupply vehicle with a crane.[4]


The Fajr-3 launcher has twelve tubes in two groups of six.[2] The Fajr-3 system was first installed on the same Japanese Izuzu chasis used by the North Korean M-1985.[3] It was later installed on Mercedes-Benz 2624 series chassis,[17] and today is uniformly used on Mercedes-Benz 2631 chassis.[3] Apart from the chassis differences, which are trivial, there are no Fajr-3 variants.[4] The launcher is unarmored and weighs 15000 kg when unloaded.[4] It can fire rockets singly or in salvo.[2]

The US Army reports that the Fajr-3 has no fire-control system,[4] while Iran's Defense Industries Organization reports that the Fajr-3 has a computer system with indigenous software that can calculate range and azimuth.[2]

The Fajr-3 launcher is 10 m long, 2.5m wide, and 3.34m tall (when traveling).[2][a] The tubes are 5.36 m long, fire for maximum range when set to 57˚, and have a maximum azimuth of 90-100 degrees.[2]


The rocket is solid fueled and has a fragmentation high explosive warhead.[2] The rocket is 5.2 meters long, 240mm in diameter, and weighs 407 kg.[2] It has wraparound fins for stabilization in flight, which reach a diameter of 512 mm when extended.[2] The rocket also has spin-stabilization, but is not guided.[3] The rocket's double layer propulsion burns for an average time of 4 seconds, reaching a peak velocity of 930 m/s.[2]

Sources differ on whether the Fajr-3 rocket has an 85 kg[2] warhead or a 90 kg warhead.[18] The warhead contains 45 kg of HE[12] and the rest of metal pellets for fragmentation. The warhead is detonated by a nose-mounted impact fuse.[19] In 2018 Iran announced an assembly line for proximity fuses for a variety of rockets and guided missiles, including the Fajr-3.[20] One source reports that Fajr-3 rockets can likely carry (plain) high explosive, submunitions, incendiary, smoke, or chemical payloads as well.[3]

The shelf life of a Fajr-3 rocket is 15 years.[2]


When the Fajr-3 is reloaded, the launch tubes (in two groups of six) are detached from the launcher and laid on the ground by a crane. Then, a machine called a "Loading machine" is used to mechanically press the heavy Fajr-3 rockets into their launch tubes one by one. When all the tubes are filled, the crane is used to reattach the launch tubes to the vehicle.[2] A reload is estimated to take 12-15 minutes.[4] Because of the long reload time and large size of the "Loading machine" (10.4m), the Fajr-3 MLRS is supposed to retreat after firing to safer rear battle areas to reload.[2]

Operational history[edit]


A Fajr-3 firing at an exercise in 2010.

Iran used the Fajr-3 in an exercise in 2010 (see right).[21] The Fajr-3 is likely to be in Iran's inventory for decades.[22] One assessment of the system's capability is that its small number of rockets, combined with the poor accuracy of MLRS systems, means that the Fajr-3 is unlikely to be tactically effective.[3]

The Fajr-3 is used in service alongside nine of the original North Korean-built M-1985 systems,[23] which are still on their original chassis.


Hezbollah maintains Fajr-3 rockets, as well as other unguided rocket artillery systems, to fire onto Israel in war.

Fajr-3 rockets sent to Hezbollah are subsidized by the Iranian government. They are flown into Syria, then smuggled into Lebanon by Hezbollah agents, and are believed to be stored in southern Lebanon.[8]

The date the first Fajr-3 rockets were supplied to Hezbollah is unclear; some sources report the early 2000s,[24][25] possibly 2002 specifically,[26] while other sources report the late 1990s.[27][1][28][29][b]

2006 Lebanon War[edit]

Fajr-3 MLRS were used in small numbers in the 2006 Lebanon War.[31] The Israeli Air Force identified the Fajr-3, along with other medium- and long-range artillery rockets, as their main target in the war, and attempted to destroy them in a large attack in the beginning of the war.[32] Similarly, Hezbollah viewed their Fajr-3 systems and similar rockets as their "centerpiece for operational planning" in the lead-up to the war.[32] In Hezbollah use, the Fajr-3 was also known as the "Raad-1".[33]

At least some of Hezbollah's Fajr-3 rockets survived Israel's initial wave of airstrikes, and "tens" were fired sporadically at Israel over the course of the war, mainly targeting the Israeli city of Haifa.[33] The rockets' long range meant that they were mostly deployed from north of the Litani River.[33] Hezbollah's Fajr-3 MLRS were operated in a mobile fashion, not from fixed locations, and were reportedly controlled from a Hezbollah headquarters in Tyre.[33] Hezbollah is estimated to have had 24-30 launchers at the beginning of the war; the number that survived is unknown.[34]


A Fajr-3 rocket was fired by unidentified Iraqi insurgents on September 11, 2007, and injured an American soldier in Baghdad.[16]


In 2009, Israel targeted Fajr-3 rockets, among other weapons, that were being smuggled to Hamas in Gaza via Sudan.[35]

Map with Fajr-3 operators in blue


Current operators[edit]


  1. ^ a b c James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies (September 2003). "Iran: Missile Chronology, 2000". Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI). Archived from the original on 15 March 2005. Retrieved 2 July 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t "Defense Industries Organization 2013 Catalog, Section 3: Rocket Industries Group" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-08-10.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Galen Wright (March 15th 2011) Iranian Military Capability 2011 - Ground Forces
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Worldwide Equipment Guide 2015: Ground Systems" (PDF). Fort Leavenworth, KS: United States Army Training and Doctrine Command. 2015. p. 412–413. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2018-07-15. Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  5. ^ Johnson, David E., Hard Fighting: Israel in Lebanon and Gaza. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2011. p. 51. https://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/MG1085.html Archived 2018-07-15 at the Wayback Machine. Also available in print form.
  6. ^ James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies (February 2006). "Iran: Missile Capabilities, Long-Range Artillery Rocket Programs". Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI). Archived from the original on 13 August 2006.
  7. ^ "Transfers and licensed production of major conventional weapons: Exports sorted by supplier. Deals with deliveries or orders made 1993-2002" (PDF). SIPRI. c. 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2004-06-29. Retrieved 2018-12-10.
  8. ^ a b Christopher Harmer (August 16, 2012). "Threat and Response: Israeli Missile Defense" (PDF). Institute for the Study of War. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 10, 2016. Retrieved July 15, 2018.
  9. ^ a b Iran's Ballistic Missile Capabilities: A Net Assessment. The International Institute for Strategic Studies. 2010.
  10. ^ a b c d James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies (February 2006). "Iran: Missile Chronology, 1996". Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI). Archived from the original on 8 March 2010.
  11. ^ "Missile Industries Group - Iran Watch". www.iranwatch.org. Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control. February 3, 2010. Archived from the original on December 9, 2018. Retrieved December 8, 2018.
  12. ^ a b James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies (September 2003). "Iran: Missile Chronology, 1997". Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI). Archived from the original on 15 March 2005. Retrieved 2 July 2019.
  13. ^ "Military Briefing on Hezbollah's Missile Capabilities: Examining the Fajr, Zelzal". Vital Perspective. 2006. Archived from the original on 2006-11-16. Retrieved 2006-08-02.[unreliable source?]
  14. ^ Joint Publications Research Service (3 May 1990). "JPRS Report, Arms Control". Arlington, VA. Archived from the original on 6 June 2017. Retrieved 15 July 2018. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  15. ^ Anthony H. Cordesman, with assistance from G. Ryan Faith (April 2003) The Military Balance in the Middle East: An Analytic Overview: Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers, Major Arms by Country and Zone, and Qualitative Trends
  16. ^ a b Major Brian H. Cunningham (2009). Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps: Instability in the Middle East (PDF) (Thesis). USMC Command and Staff College. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-03-02.
  17. ^ FADJR-3. Archived 2008-05-10 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on May 12, 2008
  18. ^ a b Fajr-3 & Fajr-5 brochure. Archived 2008-01-14 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on May 13, 2008.
  19. ^ "Fadjr-3 Fajr-3 RAAD 240mm multiple rocket launcher system technical data sheet specifications". www.armyrecognition.com. Archived from the original on 2018-07-15. Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  20. ^ "Iran launches production lines for missile fuses". AzerNews.az. 24 May 2016. Archived from the original on 9 December 2018. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  21. ^ "Test-firing of Fajr 3 and 5 rocket launchers". Mehr News. 26 April 2010. Archived from the original on 15 July 2018. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  22. ^ Robbin Finley, Future Ground Requirements: 2012 and Beyond (23 March 2012) http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a559642.pdf Archived 2017-05-02 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ a b International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) (14 February 2018). "The Military Balance 2018". The Military Balance. Routledge. 118: 334.
  24. ^ Devenny, Patrick (1 January 2006). "Hezbollah's Strategic Threat to Israel". Middle East Quarterly. Archived from the original on 19 March 2018. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  25. ^ Benjamin S. Lambeth, Air Operations in Israel's War Against Hezbollah: Learning from Lebanon and Getting It Right in Gaza (Project Air Force). RAND Corp. (2011). p. 94 ISBN 978-0-8330-5146-2
  26. ^ Cragin, Kim, Peter Chalk, Sara A. Daly, and Brian A. Jackson, Sharing the Dragon's Teeth: Terrorist Groups and the Exchange of New Technologies. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2007. https://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/MG485.html Archived 2018-07-15 at the Wayback Machine. Also available in print form.
  27. ^ James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies (September 2003). "Iran: Missile Chronology, 1999". Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI). Archived from the original on 15 March 2005. Retrieved 2 July 2019.
  28. ^ Nicolas Blanford (2011) Warriors of God: Inside Hezbollah's Thirty-Year Struggle Against Israel. New York: Random House. p. 338
  29. ^ Gabrielsen, Iver (2014) "The evolution of Hezbollah's strategy and military performance, 1982–2006," Small Wars & Insurgencies, 25:2, 257–283, DOI: 10.1080/09592318.2014.903636M
  30. ^ Anthony H. Cordesman, Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy (July 14, 2006) Lebanese Security and the Hezbollah. Working Draft.
  31. ^ Ove Dullum, The Rocket Artillery Reference Book. Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI). 30 June 2010. ISBN 978-82-464-1829-2
  32. ^ a b MAJ Brad R. Henry, "Manufacturing the Horns of Dilemma: A Theory of Operational Initiative." April 13, 2015. School of Advanced Military Studies, United States Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/1007877.pdf Archived 2018-11-03 at the Wayback Machine
  33. ^ a b c d William M. Arkin, Divining Victory: Airpower in the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War (2007) ISBN 978-1585661688
  34. ^ Cordesman, A. H., Sullivan, G., & Sullivan, W. D. (2007). Lessons of the 2006 Israeli-Hezbollah war. Washington (D.C.): CSIS Press. ISBN 978-0892065059
  35. ^ "UAVs hit Gaza-bound weapons convoys". Jerusalem Post. March 29, 2009. Archived from the original on December 9, 2018. Retrieved December 8, 2018.
  36. ^ Iran’s Asymmetric Naval Warfare Fariborz Haghshenass Policy Focus #87 | September 2008 https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/uploads/Documents/pubs/PolicyFocus87.pdf
  37. ^ "Estimates for Hezbollah's Arsenal". Critical Threats. Archived from the original on 2018-08-18. Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  38. ^ Anthony H. Cordesman, Iran's Rocket and Missile Forces and Strategic Options. October 7 2014. p. 60.
  1. ^ The older Fajr-3 launcher, on a Mercedes 2624 chassis, has slightly larger dimensions; see the brochure[18]
  2. ^ Reports that Hezbollah acquired and used Fajr-3 rockets in 1996 (e.g. [10]) are today considered wrong.[30])