Sunday, March 8, 2009

Iran Test Fires New Missiles - Updated

Iranian media are reporting that the military today has test fired a new “long-range” missile. No further details were provided [Press TV, 8 March].

Earlier today, Fars News Agency reported that Iran has also test fired an “air-to-sea” missile with a range of 110km.

“The air-to-surface missile, weighing 500kg, can hit and destroy maritime targets up to 110 kilometers in distance,” Iranian Armed Forces officials told Fars [Fars News Agency, 8 March].

The automatic guidance capability of the missile and its special warhead designed for destroying major maritime targets were said to be among the important features of the missile. But the accuracy of the missile is not verified by defense analysts.

The Press TV announcement of test-firing of a new “long-range” missile, however, was the real story today. If the report is accurate, the timing of the test comes at a grave period in Iran-Israel relations.

On Wednesday, IRGC Commander MG Mohammad Ali Jafari said that all Israeli nuclear sites are within the reach of Iranian missiles. No other senior Iranian military officers had ever made such claim on Iranian offensive capabilities. The test-firing of a new long-range missile today gives credence to Gen. Jafari’s announcement.

Update: Concerning the new air-to-surface missile:

Weight is heavier than a Kowsar or Nasr. The range of the missile cited is also greater.

The Fars report in Farsi describes a "fire and forget" capability.

There is a history of development for Iran's air-to-surface missile programs. Iranian F-4 Phantoms and Su-24 Fencers have been adapted as platforms to launch Tondar and Noor missiles. In addition, Iranian F-5s have been adapted to launch Kowsar missiles. This latest test could possibly be that of an upgraded Nasr missile.

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