Super-fast underwater missiles — they ain’t the half of it. Iran’s armed forces are rolling out a slew of new military hardware this week, as part of its “Great Prophet” naval war games. Some of the gear seems downright comical. Others, downright dangerous.
(Most of these links are crimped from Kathryn Cramer and Airborne Combat Engineer. Make sure you show ‘em a little click-love.)
First, the comical — a “flying boat,” which moves at low altitude above the water. “The vessel appeared to be a more-advanced military version of the common seaplane,” Iran Focus observed. “Because of its hulls advanced design, no radar at sea or in the air can locate it. It can lift out of the water. It is wholly domestically built and can launch missiles with precise targeting while moving,” the Mullahs’ Defense Ministry mouthpiece crowed. Mayyybe. But ACE notes that “you can buy your own such boat/plane (in kit or finished form).” He finds some pictures of awfully similar craft over here.
Next, the dangerous. The Times takes a look at Tehran’s embryonic satellite program. The orbiters the Iranians are launching are crude. “But some Western analysts note that such technologies can also have atomic roles and that a crucial element of a credible nuclear arsenal is the ability to launch a missile accurately and guide a warhead to its target,” the Times says.
While Iran now depends on Russia to launch its satellites into orbit [and we know how helpful Moscow is feeling these days — ed.], it has vowed to do so itself, and is developing a family of increasingly large rockets. In theory, the biggest could hurl not only satellites into space but warheads between continents.
“The real issue is that they have a very large booster under development,” said Dr. Anthony H. Cordesman, a military analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington who wrote a recent report on Iran’s nuclear effort.
Closer to home, Tehran is bragging about an “advanced shoulder-launched rocket ‘Mithaq 1′ — which can be carried by IRGC fast ships and used on shore and on islands — was successfully test-fired,” Iran Focus quotes a military spokesperson as saying.
The Mithaq 1 anti-aircraft rockets have a heat tracking device and are “fast” and “manoeuvrable,” the report said, adding that they were particularly good at targeting light helicopters…
Iran also has the Mithaq 2 on its production line. The more advanced rocket is [almost identical to the Chinese shoulder-fired missiles and is] capable of destroying choppers and jet fighters which fly at low altitude. Tehran claims that it is good for use in electronic warfare and it can also hit fake targets.
On Friday, Iran “tested the Fajr-3, a missile that it said can avoid radars and hit several targets simultaneously using multiple warheads,” the Associated Press noted. Again, it appears to be based on a Chinese model.
The International Institute for Strategic Studies’ Jason Alderwick, reminds Reuters about the Iranian habit of “military bravado and posturing.“
But Tim Ripley, with Jane’s, adds that, “You don’t actually need lots of weapons to close (the Strait of Hormuz), you just need lots of threats… “You don’t even have to sink a ship, you just have to double the insurance rates (for shipping) and it has a knock on effect on the price of oil.“
And Kathryn Cramer notes that the man behind Tehran’s new technologies is a seriously bad dude — the man “responsible for recruitment of suicide bombers in Irans armed forces.” Not coincidentally, Brigadier General Hossein Salami also crafted Iran’s doctrine of “the massive use of suicide operations to target U.S. and Western interests around the world, and the use of weapons of mass destruction.“
UPDATE 5:12 PM: “For months, I have told interviewers that no senior political or military official was seriously considering a military attack on Iran. In the last few weeks, I have changed my view,” says Joseph Cirincione, with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “In part, this shift was triggered by colleagues with close ties to the Pentagon and the executive branch who have convinced me that some senior officials have already made up their minds: They want to hit Iran.“
(Big ups: Kevin Drum)
UPDATE 04/05/06 3:12 PM: Well, now we’ve got the sneaky missile hat trick. “Iran said Wednesday it has successfully test-fired a “top secret” missile, the third within a week, state-run television reported.” To which Kathryn asks, “If it’s so secret, what’s it doing on TV?”