Monday, February 15, 2010

Iran’s New ICBM Surprises Experts- DefenseNews

In a feature article in this week’s DefenseNews, Barbara Opall-Rome, Israel Bureau Chief at the leading defense news weekly, discusses Iran’s Feb. 3 unveiling of Simorgh. She writes that US and Israeli experts expected improvements to existing boosters rather than a super-sized design that might evolve into an ICBM.

The following are excerpts from the article, including references to this blogger’s assessment of Simorgh’s capabilities and its launch.

Simorgh’s total thrust of 143 tons comes from the four 32-ton thrust engines that make up the first stage and a 15-ton thrust control engine as a second stage. Although Iran has acknowledged a lift capacity of just 100 kilograms, Nader Uskowi, a Washington-based consultant and blogger on Iran, said optimization of its current design should allow Iran to put a 700-kilogram payroll into low Earth orbit.

Simorgh came as a surprise to Israeli and U.S. experts.

“Most analysts expected development of a three-stage Ashura as the next logical step in Iran’s missile development program,” Uskowi said.

Initial Israeli assessments have identified four separate Shehab 3B rocket motors as the Simorgh’s clustered first stage motor. The four verniers used for steering could have come from Russian BM25.

The article appeared on February 15, 2010 edition of DefenseNews.


Paul Iddon said...

nice one Nader! :)

Mark Pyruz said...

Nader, I couldn't find the article at DefenseNews. (I think their site hasn't been updated since Dec. 12.

Do you have an URL to the full story?

I'm interested to see how these experts have configured this Simorgh SLV into a proposed ICBM.

I'm also interested in knowing how these experts expected an existing SSM design with 3-stages to be fielded in a manner which promises any reasonable chance of battle survivability. Obviously a 3-stage SSM would not be able to utilize existing TEL designs, and inherent design limitations would make such a SSM impractical. Fixed missile silos? Being stationary, too easy to target.

The experts I've read have figured the Simorgh type a more logical layout, and had questioned why the Iranians had not started out with this arrangement in the first place, instead of the Shahab -3 type arrangement. (see Geoffrey Forden at ACW)

I'm interested in reading these experts projected layouts for an ICBM based on the Simorgh, the technology hurdles necessary in putting it together, as well as the proposed defense strategy to be employed in fielding such an SSM.

Nader Uskowi said...

Thanks, Paul.

Mark, I am sure there would be a difference of opinion on the issues you're raising. I know very respectable experts who expected a three-stage Ashura as the next step. But this is what it is now, with Simorgh instead of 3-Ashura.

I believe you need to be registered/subscribed to DefenseNews to get all feature articles (I am a subscriber). I will send you the link if available.

If you click on you will get to the first page, the article today is on page 9. Try putting Iran as searach, and you might get the link to the article under features.

Mark Pyruz said...

Nader, using "Iran" as a search word doesn't work, and "Page 9" requires a username and password. Too bad. I'm interested.

What really interests me is the specific 3-stage configuration they were expecting, the means of fielding this cumbersome SSM and the defense doctrine it would be employed in. What range did they expect and how would this fit into Iran's defense strategy based on deterrence? Did they envision a different strategy and if so, what? Are they somehow calculating that Iran is hell bent on diverting its nuclear program towards weaponization- and if so, where's the proof? Or is this all speculative and conjecture? (perhaps with a political motive in mind?) Well, if that's what you're working with, yes, you would be subject to surprise by the more logical arrangement of the Simorgh rocket!

As to the Simorgh, itself, it's a bit over-the-top to claim this SLV mockup as a new ICBM. Much development work is in the offing, and it is configured at its unveiling as an SLV, not a SSM. Iran's more immediate need is for efficient satellite delivery, not extended range beyond the required region for its SSM force.

Nader Uskowi said...


I’ll try sending you the entire article.

On Simorgh, same argument can hold: it has a weight of 87 tons, this mammoth cannot carry a reasonable re-entry vehicle capable of flying long distance. It can be used, however, as a platform for future serious modifications if Iran is as determined as it seems.

Alborz said...

somebody said the new iran missiles are a version of old russain SS-5 missiles