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Iran Puts So Much Faith In Its Missiles

March 9, 2019

Via Iranian media.

Within the span of a single month Iran showed the world undeniable proof how its armed forces, mainly the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), serve as the ultimate counter-balance against the US-led coalition rallying against it. This past February had an unprecedented volume of propaganda emphasizing the Islamic Republic’s military strength, complete with large-scale exercises and a rare state-sponsored arms show. The build up to the 1979 Revolution’s anniversary saw an unprecedented military exhibition titled Eghtedar 40 in Tehran where different kinds of weapons and equipment manufactured in Iran were put on display. The occasion was also used to unveil new weapons, such as the “Hoveizeh” cruise missile. (Pictured above.)

The “Hoveizeh” looks like it was based on a Soviet design. During the 2000s Iran was suspected of a clandestine deal with Ukrainian agents for surplus cruise missiles. It’s believed these were later reverse engineered for a “land attack” missile unveiled in 2015 called the Soumar. At the time, the IRGC boasted the Soumar was capable of traveling 2,500 kilometers and striking any target within this envelope. The details surrounding it fueled speculation it was a derivative of the Soviet Kh-55 anti-ship cruise missile. Yet skeptics have cast doubt on the hype surrounding the Soumar and are convinced its locally made engine is incapable of delivering it over such a great distance.

If it were deployed anywhere in Western Iran, the Dezful can reach Western forces in the Syrian Rojava. Via Iranian media.

Indeed, the “Hoveizeh” has a rocket booster like those used on Chinese and Russian anti-ship missiles, whose ranges are often less than 1,000 km. Its air intake, being the cylinder under the fuselage, is larger than the one on the Soumar and it’s possible the “Hoveizeh” is being tailored as an anti-access and anti-ship missile for defending Iran’s long coastline. Besides, the IRGC already have the Khorramshahr, Ghadr, and Qiam ballistic missiles for bombarding ground targets and its new generation of armed drones can travel vast distances. But the IRGC do insist the “Hoveizeh” can fly 1,350 km and is an ideal option for striking fixed installations as the “long arm” of the Islamic Republic.

The IRGC may have slipped up about its cruise missile ambitions though. According to one of its generals at the unveiling for the “Hoveizeh,” a successful test proved it can fly twice farther than the Soumar’s 700 km range, which is a far cry from the alleged 2,500 km pushed in 2015. Yet the “Hoveizeh” counts as another recent entry in an elaborate collection of missiles that Iran produces as a deterrent and an option besides its questionable air power. Another precision weapon system displayed at Eghtedar 40 was the Ghassed-3 “air-launched cruise missile” whose specifications were kept from the public. Closer scrutiny revealed it’s an improved air-to-ground missile designed for the various multirole fighters maintained by the IRIAF.

The Ghassed-3 is Iran’s newest air-launched weapon system. Via Iranian media.

The development of the Ghassed-3 presents a small but crucial breakthrough for Iran’s military-industrial sector, whose advances in research and engineering should worry the Gulf states feuding with it. While US-allied Arab air forces have better aircraft, these are reliant on fixed stockpiles of munitions. Iran, on the other hand, has graduated to the point of manufacturing a variety of the same at an unmatched scale.

As if Eghtedar 40 weren’t a big enough propaganda effort for Iran’s military, the IRGC were once again leveling veiled threats by allowing state media to broadcast an underground ballistic missile factory with an active production line. The facility run by “Aerospace Division” turned out to be for the “Dezful” whose appearance makes it the newest member of the Fateh lineage often launched against command centers and other vital installations. In September 2018, for example, a salvo of Fateh-110B missiles struck a militant Kurdish group’s compound as retaliation for terrorist attacks on IRGC members.

The “Dezful” missile features a larger cone that may indicate either a new guidance system or an improved warhead. IRGC officials were generous with the hyperbole, stating the Dezful had a range of 1,000 km that made it the deadliest Fateh variant yet; the prolific Fateh-110B can travel up to 300 km while its sibling the Fateh Mobin flies twice as far. Whatever the truth, the Dezful belongs to a combat proven “family” of ballistic missiles that are on par with similar road mobile precision weapons made by China and Russia. This should be noted by the GCC and the US, whose stance on Iran hasn’t moved beyond stern rhetoric, since missiles are an effective tool for blocking maritime traffic in the region’s vital waterways.

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