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Israeli Army deploys new Lahav multi-caliber MLRS against Hamas militants in Gaza Strip

According to N12 on February 4, 2024, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) utilized their new Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) named 'The Lahav' for the first time in an operational capacity. The 'Lahav' multi-caliber launcher, constructed from the PULS platform by Elbit Systems, is mounted on a HEMTT (Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck) 8x8 military vehicle and is capable of launching various types of rockets ranging from 122 to 370 mm in caliber.
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The 'Lahav' multi-caliber launcher, based on the PULS platform by Elbit Systems, is capable of launching various types of rockets ranging from 122 to 370 mm in caliber. (Picture source: IDF)

Introduced in 2020, the 'Lahav' system was integrated into the arsenal of the Israeli Artillery Corps, with training exercises commencing the same year. Its initial operational use took place during the conflict against Hamas militants that began on October 7, 2023, following a series of terrorist attacks instigated by Hamas. Battalion 334 of the 282 Fire Brigade, tasked with utilizing the 'Lahav' system, reportedly fired hundreds of rockets and over 100,000 shells at Gaza, including the advanced "Romah" rockets, capable of covering the Gaza strip from end to end.

Despite being originally scheduled for a year-long transition from the tracked M270 MLRS to the new wheeled launcher, Battalion 334 of the 282 Fire Brigade quickly mobilized in response to escalating hostilities. Captain Adi, a company commander in the battalion, described the deployment, emphasizing the urgency of the situation and the swift reaction of the troops.

The operational need for the 'Lahav' launcher became evident during the conflict, leading to the introduction of additional launchers into service. Captain Adi highlighted the system's efficiency, noting its capability to reach the required location within minutes and be prepared for a new mission within an hour. The 'Lahav' launcher significantly enhanced the IDF's firepower and operational flexibility, enabling faster firing and enhanced accuracy compared to previous M270 launchers, facilitating rapid and precise strikes against targets in Gaza.

A typical firing mission can be completed in less than one minute from initiation. While primarily operating within the country, the launcher and its soldiers can also move into enemy territories as necessary for missions.

Battalion 334 can fire two types of rockets used by the Lahav: the Romah and the Ra'am Eitan. The Romah (or Romeh) rockets, measuring 122mm, are loaded with 18 rockets per pod, featuring a 20 kg explosive warhead and a range of 35 km, covering the Gaza Strip from end to end. Soon, the IDF plans to replace them with the more advanced and improved "Bar" rockets. In contrast, the Ra'am Eitan, with a caliber of 227mm, carries 6 rockets per pod and is designed for cluster munition deployment, with a range of 40 km, facilitating safer passage for forces on the battlefield. "Ra'am Eitan" has not been used yet but was deployed in the north of the country as a precautionary measure against the Hezbollah threat.

Since the start of the conflict, the "Lahav" launcher has fired more than a hundred large, long-range "Romah" rockets with high accuracy towards dozens of targets in the Gaza Strip. These rockets represent an upgrade compared to those used in the Second Lebanon War.

The Lahav can also use three other rockets: the Kidon Kesum, sized at 160mm, are equipped with 10 rockets per pod, carrying a 35 kg explosive warhead and achieving a range of 40 km. The EXTRA rockets, with a diameter of 306mm, contain 4 rockets per pod, each armed with a 120 kg explosive warhead, capable of reaching distances between 30 and 150 km. Lastly, the Nitz Dors (or Netz Doras) rockets, with a caliber of 370mm, carry 2 rockets per pod, featuring a 140 kg explosive warhead and a range of 50 to 300 km.

Developed by Tadiran Systems, now a subsidiary of Elbit Systems, in collaboration with Elbit Systems, the Lahav mobile multi-canister rocket launcher has established itself as an asset within the IDF since its introduction in 2020.

Mounted on an Oshkosh HEMTT 8×8 truck, the Lahav Rocket Launcher has notable specifications. Measuring 10.4 meters in length and 2.4 meters in width, the Lahav is agile, capable of achieving speeds of up to 100 km/h. This agility is due to its robust Caterpillar C15 diesel engine, generating 515 kW of power, ensuring high mobility and adaptability across varied terrains.

Furthermore, the Lahav is equipped with features designed to enhance its operational effectiveness. The PULS rocket launcher, with its rotating mount and space for two rocket pods, facilitates rapid deployment and firing. Rockets are stored in waterproof canisters, protecting them from environmental factors and potential damage. The vehicle's all-wheel-drive configuration ensures exceptional cross-country and on-road mobility, essential for maneuvering in diverse combat environments.

In addition to its mobility, the Lahav prioritizes operational efficiency. Self-deploying stabilizing legs stabilize the launcher during firing, ensuring precision and accuracy. An integral crane enables swift reloading of rocket pods, with the process taking approximately 10 minutes, minimizing downtime between engagements. The Lahav is also equipped with advanced control and fire control systems, including C4ISTAR capabilities, enabling rapid and precise targeting.

The Lahav's advanced navigation systems, incorporating both inertial navigation and GPS technology, further enhance its operational capabilities, ensuring accurate positioning and targeting even in challenging environments. Control of the vehicle and launcher is centralized within the driver's compartment, which also serves as an operator compartment, providing added protection for personnel against potential threats.


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