Wednesday, August 02, 2006

What's the difference between a 'rocket' and a 'missile'?

While the New York Times breathlessly recorded fresh exchanges of explosives between IDF forces invading and endeavoring to 'pacify' southern Lebanon, and Hezbollah forces resisting them, I was given pause to wonder about the war of words also being waged on the front pages of the US and the world.

What IS the difference between an Hezbollah 'rocket' and an Israeli 'missile'?

Surely Hezbollah 'rockets' sound so much more lethal than Israeli bombs, don't they.

"Hezbollah Fires Over 200 Rockets Into Israel" sounds like a horrible onslaught. And as someone who has had the experience of 'in-coming' at one time in my life, I can attest that there are few sounds more terrifying than the explosion close-by of High Explosive ordinance--and few sounds as likely to redefine forEVER yout idea of a 'sudden, loud noise.'. It is not something I intentionally disparage. A 122-mm (the BM-22, the staple of the Hezbollah armory) round is a formidable piece of explosive ordinance. But basically it's no more than about 50 pounds of powder packed atop a self-powered, famously inaccurate, stubby-winged vehicle.

The Katyusha is NOT a 'guided' missile, by any measure. Rather, it's resembles nothing so much as a very big bottle rocket: it goes up, it comes down, and it makes a big boom. Still it is terrifying, and deadly, and--because it's a 'rocket'-- it sound very technological and formidable.

That is, until you recall that an Apache helicopter--with over 100 of which the USofA has the thoughtfully the Israeli 'defense' forces--armed with only a 30mm mini-cannon can spray 600 cannon-shells per MINUTE and blanket an area the size of a football field with one shell/square foot in less time than it takes to type it. Here is the unclassified description ot the Apache's armaments: The Apache can carry up to 16 Hellfire laser designated missiles. With a range of over 8000 meters, the Hellfire is used primarily for the destruction of tanks, armored vehicles and other hard material targets. The Apache can also deliver 76, 2.75" folding fin aerial rockets for use against enemy personnel, light armor vehicles and other soft-skinned targets. Rounding out the Apache’s deadly punch are 1,200 rounds of ammunition for its Area Weapons System (AWS), 30MM Automatic Gun.

And that's not counting the tanks and the artillery and the other Fighter-borne missiles...

If I had to guess, I'd bet the ratio of explosive Isreali ordinance delivered on Lebanon to Hezbollah rockets landing in Israel would be probably way over to 100--and probably closer to 1,000--to one. But nobody's counting, right?


indifferent children said...

Technically, anything tossed through the air (dart, stone, bullet, rocket, etc) can be called a missle. But in modern military discussions, a rocket that is guided is usually called a missle, and a rocket that is unguided (like the 2.75" folding fin aerial rocket) is never called a missle.

Regarding the inequality in the amount of ordnance delivered by both sides: why wouldn't you expect a real military to toss more ordnance than a poorly-supported terrorist group? When we went into Afghanistan, did we say: "Al Qaeda hit us with 4 airplanes, let's respond in kind"? Umm, no. That would have been stupid of us. Israel is seeking victory, not a politely meaured response.

Metro99 said... American leftist actually discusses the slaughter in Lebanon! Channeling Claude Rains in "Casablanca": "I'm shocked, shocked I tell you."

Woody, I've been a visitor to (almost never a commenter on) Eschaton for over three years, and always appreciated your trenchant remarks. However I must say that I am absolutely appalled at Atrios' utter cowardice in deliberately neglecting what is arguably the most important incident in current world affairs (perhaps, perhaps second in importance to events in Iraq). Seriously, do we really need five daily threads devoted to Lamont/Lieberman? The reticence of the American Left to unequivocally condemn Israeli aggression and brutality speaks volumes about its moral bankruptcy as a political alternative to BushCo & Thugs, LLC.

Thanks to a link provided by Moonbootica, I've been visiting an excellent UK blog called Lenin's Tomb. While I don’t subscribe to Lenin’s SWP ideology (I was a member of the DeLeon-inspired SLP back in the mid/late-70s), his analysis of events in Lebanon and Palestine is outstanding, uncompromising, and massively detailed.

In any event, I hope you continue the efforts on your own blog. Thanks for highlighting the distinction between the armaments of the IDF and Hizbullah and the fact that nearly all the weaponry in the IDF arsenal has been generously given free-of-charge by the US and paid for by our taxes. I’m amazed that any thoughtful person in this country can still ask the question: “why do they hate us?” Seems pretty obvious to me.

james said...

Nice post.... saw your reply to my comment on Escahton. I'll bookmark ya


Mr.Murder said...

Don't be a critic of the neocons or thier allies.

Ronnie Raygun's ghost will make you a visit, courtesy of voodoo economics, and tell you this:

"Tear down this Walled-in pond!"

Besides he never really liked the environment, and facts are stupid things.

sunflower said...

"in deliberately neglecting what is arguably the most important incident in current world affairs"

Wrong! The Iraq disaster was the most important as now there is nothing to stop Iran from doing whatever they want.