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Katyusha Rocket

The Katyusha was originally a World War II-era Soviet rocket. During the Great Patriotic War the BM-8 and BM-13 rocket launchers [some times confusingly called rocket mortars] got their famous name "Katyusha". In March 1941 the first successful fire tests of BM-13 rocket launchers were carried out and 21 June mass production order was sign. Originally this system was based on standard ZIS-5 but this experience wasn't successful. Afterwards ZIS-6 was chosen. At last the BM-13 was mounted only on Studebaker-US6 (BM-13N). The BM-13 could fire 16 130mm rockets simultaneously.

The Katyusha, or Little Kate, was a rocket launcher mounted on a heavy truck that fired volleys of up to 48 rockets nearly four miles. The Katyusha was infamous among German troopers who quickly learned to dread its distinctive scream. They named the Katyusha "Stalin's Organ." Soviet guards mortar units were equipped with multiple rocket launchers, the famous katyushas, named after the title of a popular song of the time. Some military scholars credit the Katyusha for the relief of Stalingrad.

The word Katyusha is the tender diminutive of the female name Ekatherina (Katherine). For example, the diminutive for Natalia is Natasha, and the tender diminutive for Natasha is Natashenka. In the case of Ekaterina, Katya is the nickname and Katyusha, a tender diminutive. Katyusha is a Soviet song about a girl longing for her beloved, who is away on military service. The music was composed in 1938 by Matvei Blanter and the lyrics were written by Mikhail Isakovsky.

A rocket is a missile on a smaller scale and with a smaller quantity of explosive material. Like the missile, a rocket consists of a warhead containing the explosive material, a body containing the fuel powering the rocket's flight, and a tail in which the engine is located, which also stabilizes the rocket during its flight. Rockets can be launched by operators who are near the rocket launcher when it is fired, or by means of a delayed timer (which doesn't require an operator being near the position when it is fired). The devices are easy to move and to conceal, and can be assembled on the back of a vehicle in order to make it quicker to move them to the launch site and take them away after firing.

References now to the Katyusha mean not just one type of rocket, but a whole range of different artillery rockets, whether from old Soviet or other-nation stock, most frequently the 122mm rocket. The Katyusha rockets have little guidance and are not lethal enough to defeat Israel militarily, but are used by terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, operating out of Lebanon, to cause terror among the Israeli population.

It is widely reported that Hizballah possesses over 5,000 Katyusha rockets, some of whcih can threaten the Galilee down to Haifa. In April 1996, in response to an increasingly intolerable attacks on northern Israel by Hizballah Katyusha rockets, the Israeli government launched Operation GRAPES OF WRATH. The operation involved heavy bombardment of south Lebanon. Israel maintained a security zone in southern Lebanon thereafter. Israel needs to protect civilians on its northern borders against terrorist rocket attacks, but the demonstrated failure of the Israel Defense Forces (the most powerful military force in the Middle East) to prevent Hizb'allah Katyusha attacks against northern Israel during Operation Grapes of Wrath demonstrated the magnitude of the challenge. Katyusha rockets, fired by Hizbollah extremists, slammed into northern Israel regularly until the Israeli pullout in June 2000.

On 03 January 2002, in Operation Noah's Ark, Israel captured in the Red Sea the Karine-A, a Palestinian Authority freighter. The vessel was found to be carrying twelve-mile-range Katyusha rockets, antitank missiles, and high explosives. Israel and the United States alleged Hizballah had some link to the Palestinian weapons ship seized by Israel. Three Hizballah members arrested in Jordan were attempting to smuggle Katyusha rockets to the Palestinians (the detainees were later freed by the Jordanians at the request of the Lebanese government). Another fishing vessel carrying weapons to the Palestinians was sunk off the Lebanese coast by Israel in May 2002. Israel charged that the weapons and military cargo were purchased with the help of Hizballah. Hizballah rejected accusations of involvement in arms shipment.

On its most recent deployment, ending in September 2005, the USS Ashland supported the U.S. Marine 26th MEU in training & operations in the Mediterranean Sea & areas within the Middle East. The ship's mission also involved protecting Iraqi assets & improving international relations with fellow countries involved with the war on terrorism. While in port at Aquba, Jordan, the USS Ashland was fired upon by terrorists against the United States presence in the area. While the closest Katyusha rocket passed just over the bow of the ship, no damage was done to the ship nor casualties felt by the personnel on board. Due to the thorough training, vigilance, & the intense professionalism of her crew, the USS Ashland made preparations for underway & was out to sea within an hour. Her crew received the Combat Action ribbon for their performance during the attack.

In October 2005 the Israeli Defense Force deployed a sophisticated new radar system near the Gaza Strip, designed to give early warning to Israeli residents of incoming Katyusha missiles, Kassam rockets and possibly mortar rounds. Because Israeli forces are able to locate the source of fire and return fire, the terrorist organizations have developed special methods of action to avoid injury. They fire towards a target from a number of positions, changing positions frequently and constantly using new positions.

A series of attacks by Hezbollah guerrillas on 12 July 2006 left eight Israeli soldiers dead and two others captured. Hezbollah said it wanted to negotiate a prisoner swap, citing thousands of Arab prisoners in Israeli jails. Hezbollah guerrillas fired rockets into northern Israel. At least one Israeli civilian was killed on 13 July 2006 and thousands of Israelis living in the northern part of the country were ordered to shelters. Hezbollah fired "Thunder 1" rockets at the northern Israeli towns of Safed, Nahariya, Kiryat Shmona, and Carmiel.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 15:48:23 ZULU