iran flag small Fateh A-110

Fateh A-110 (Jane's Strategic Weapon Systems)
Originated From:Iran
Possessed By:Iran
Alternate Name:Mershad, Zelzal-2 variant
Basing:Road-mobile
Length:8.86 m
Diameter:0.61 m
Launch Weight:3,450 kg
Payload:500 kg
Warhead:HE, chemical, submunitions
Propulsion:Single-stage solid propellant
Range:200-210 km

The Fateh A-110 is a short-range, road-mobile, solid-propellant ballistic missile. It is most likely a modified version of the unguided Zelzal-2, with the addition of control and guidance systems. 1 The Fateh A-110 is designed to replace many of the aging Scud systems currently used in the Middle East. While the program is based in Iran, the missile is believed to incorporate components from Chinese contractors. In 2006 the US Department of Treasury accused Great Wall Industry, a Chinese Corporation, and its partners for playing a lead role in the development of the Fateh missile system. 2

Iran began developing the Fateh A-110 in 1995. Sources indicate that the missile is 8.86 m long, 0.61 m in diameter, and weighs 3,450 kg. It uses a single-stage solid propellant engine and has a range of 210 km (130 miles), although it is possible that Iran will add extra boosters in order to increase its range to 400 km (249 miles). The missile might be as accurate as 100 m CEP using a combination of inertial guidance and a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) system, though some sources suggest that the accuracy is much lower, as they do not think that the missile is capable of much inflight maneuvering or correction. Iranian sources claim that the weapon has a high degree of accuracy, a claim that would suggest inflight control systems that are not apparent from photos of the missile. It can carry a payload of some 500 kg and is most likely intended to deliver a high explosive, chemical, or submunitions warhead. The possibility remains, however, that Iran could deploy the Fateh A-110 with biological or nuclear warheads. 3

The first test flight of the Fateh A-110 took place in May 2001, with a second in September of 2002. 4 A third test was recorded in February 2003. A fourth test was successfully completed during the second Holy Prophet military exercise in November 2006. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard successfully tested the Fateh in January of 2007 during an annual war game. 5 A fifth successful test was completed in September 2007 alongside the Qadr-1 and the Shahab-3. Additionally, unconfirmed reports suggest that at least five more tests have occurred since 2008. 6 During its tests, the Fateh A-110 was fired from a fixed launcher similar to the one used by the Russian S-75 Guideline surface-to-air missile. However, it is more likely that Iran has designed a launch vehicle to make Fateh A-110 road mobile. The launch vehicles are probably converted Scud launchers, trucks, or Zelzal-2 launch vehicles. 7 Reports indicate that the Fateh A-110′s tactical use is similar to that of a Scud system. Although Iran has improved the missile’s overall ability, its accuracy makes the Fateh A-110 ineffective against moving military targets. However, the missile is capable of hitting most large military targets such as bases and airfields.

The missile entered low-rate production in October 2002 and initial operational achievement is believed to have occurred in 2004. Syria is known to be developing a similar short-range solid-propellant missile and to have exported a similar design to North Korea. Given their history of technological exchanges and the decreased cost of working together, it is likely that Syria and North Korea are involved with the Fateh A-110. 8 Unconfirmed reports from 2008 suggest Hezbollah was supplied with Fateh A-110 rockets by Imad Mughniyeh, a recently deceased officer in the organization who reportedly received these weapons from Iran. 9 It is possible that these were some of the Zelzal weapons destroyed in Lebanon by Israeli forces in 2007. Numbers and production information relating to the Fateh A-110 are currently uncertain, yet Iranian media sources claim that facilities have been created to mass produce the weapon. 10

Two improved versions of the Fateh A-110 are believed to be in development. These would probably be designated the A-110A (or Fateh 2) and the A-110B (or Fateh 3). A 2008 report suggested that Syria was building a surface-to-surface missile with Iranian assistance. This cooperative project is believed to be based upon the A-110B and have an operational range of at least 300 km. It is expected that the A-110B will have a slightly reduced payload of 480kg and an accuracy of 250 m CEP. 11

Last Updated 9/27/2012

  1. Andrew Koch, Robin Hughes, and Alon Ben-David, “Tehran Altering Ballistic Missile,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, 8 December 2004.
  2. “Michael Herald: US Shows Muscle by Punitive Action,” New Zealand Herald, 30 August 2006, on http://www.nzherald.co.nz/, Accessed on 5 June 2008.
  3. Lennox, Duncan. “Fateh A-110.” Jane’s Strategic Weapon Systems (Offensive Weapons). August 29, 2012. (accessed September 12, 2012).
  4. Andrew Koch and Steve Rodan, “Iran Tests Latest Ballistic Missiles,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, 18 September 2002.
  5. Iran: Guards Army Units test-fire Short-range missiles, rockets,” BBC Monitoring Middle East- Political, 23 January 2007, www.bbc.co.uk, Accessed on 6 June 2008.
  6. Lennox, “Fateh 110.”
  7.  Duncan Lennox, “Short-Range Iranian Ballistic Missile on View,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, 5 February 2003.
  8. Lennox, “Fateh A-110.”
  9. Yaakov Katz, “Defense Officials say Africa Likely Target for Hizbullah Retaliation,” Jerusalem Post, 18 February 2008, on http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite, accessed on 5 June 2008.
  10.  “Iranian Army: Brief for 63rd Fighter SQ, USAF” http://www.63rdvfs.com/IranianArmy.html, Accessed 5 June 2008.
  11. Lennox, “Fateh 110.”
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