Russian Defense Ministry confirms use of Iranian 122mm HE-FRAG missiles in Ukraine

On October 01, 2023, the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed the use of Iranian 122-mm HE-FRAG missiles of the Arash family in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. This confirmation comes on the heels of a video released by the ministry, showing these missiles being fired from BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launchers.
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The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed the use of Iranian 122mm HE-FRAG missiles of the Arash family in the war waged in Ukraine (Picture source: Wikimedia and Russian MoD)

The historical context of military relations between Russia and Iran dates back to the early 1960s, with multiple intergovernmental agreements signed in the field of military-technology cooperation since 1989. Over the years, Russia has supplied Iran with a range of military equipment, including long-range anti-aircraft missile systems and fighter jets. More recently, Iran has become a significant supplier of ammunition to Russia, including barrels and drones. Last year, Russia deployed Iran’s Shahed-131 and Shahed-136 drones in Ukraine, which were effective in targeting civilian infrastructure.

The Iranian 122mm Arash-1 rocket is an electrically launched, surface-to-surface, fin and spin-stabilized fragmentation rocket, similar to the Russian BM-21 Grad rocket. These rockets are often contained in typical munitions transportation containers and have been spotted by military watchers on multiple occasions. Photographs of these rockets produced in 2018 and 2023 have also been circulating online, adding another layer to the ongoing discussions about Iran's role in supplying munitions for the conflict.

Interestingly, there have been reports suggesting that Ukraine has also been using Iranian 122mm high-explosive mortar rounds. These rounds are believed to have been intercepted and redirected by the United States from their original destination of Yemen. 

In exchange for its military supplies to Russia, Iran is believed to have been promised the delivery of Russia’s Su-35 fighter jets, although these have not been delivered yet. Despite facing additional sanctions from the United States and its Western allies, Iran continues to supply Moscow militarily. A recent report from the Institute of Study of War (ISW) indicated that Iran and Russia could soon sign a drone and missile sale agreement.