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19 Nov, 2023 21:56

Iran unveils its newest hypersonic missile – media

Tehran’s ballistic weapon reportedly makes use of a technology possessed by very few nations
Iran unveils its newest hypersonic missile – media

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) unveiled the nation’s cutting-edge hypersonic missile at a ceremony in Tehran attended by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday, local media reported.  

The missile was presented at the Ashura Aerospace Science and Technology University during an exhibition showcasing the Islamic Republic’s advancements in aerospace tech, and comes months after Tehran unveiled its first hypersonic missile in June.

According to the IRNA news agency, the Fattah-2 missile is equipped with a hypersonic glider warhead that places it “in the HGV… class of hypersonic weapons.” 

Iranian media reported that the Islamic Republic had become only the fourth nation in the world to make use of such technology.

A hypersonic glide vehicle, or HGV, is a type of warhead that allows a rocket to maneuver and glide at hypersonic speeds. It is usually mounted on ballistic missiles and can significantly change flight trajectory after launch, which makes it a much more challenging target to detect for an enemy’s missile defense system than a typical warhead traveling in a more predictable arc trajectory. 

Very few nations have operational HGV missiles to date. One of them is Russia, which possesses the ‘Avangard’ gliders mounted on its silo-based intercontinental ballistic missiles like the ‘Sarmat’. The Russian HGV is capable of flying between 20 and 27 times faster than the speed of sound or between 24,000 and 33,000 kilometers per hour. It has a potential explosive yield of to two megatons, which is more than 100 times greater than the explosion produced by the US nuclear bomb dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.

In 2019, China officially put its DF-ZF HGV missile into service. Mounted on a road-mobile medium-range ballistic missile, the Chinese hypersonic glider can travel up to 10 times faster than the speed of sound at a speed of 12,360 kilometers per hour and carry a nuclear charge. 

The US was expected to have its ‘Dark Eagle’ Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW) enter service in September, but its fielding has been delayed due to a scrapped critical test of its glide vehicle. The weapons system is still expected to become operational by the end of the year, according to media reports. 

Little is known about Iran’s Fattah-2 missile, as the national media provided very few details on the projectile’s technical characteristics. Its predecessor, the Fattah missile that was officially unveiled less than six months ago, had a range of 1,400 kilometers and could travel between 13 and 15 times faster than the speed of sound.

The commander of the IRGC Aerospace Force, General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, said later in June that the projectile’s range could be increased to 2,000 kilometers. Such an operational range could potentially allow Iran to reach the territory of Israel, which Tehran considers to be its arch-enemy. According to the Iranian media, the Fattah missile was also capable of penetrating through a potential enemy’s air defenses and destroying them.