Archive for August, 2012

Iran tests new ASM, but is it all it’s cracked up to be?

Posted in Iran, Middle East on August 8, 2012 by maccaulay

According to United Press International and a slew of other news organizations, the Iranian Revolutionary Gaurd Corps has tested a new Anti-ship Ballistic Missile during the final phase of wargames a week ago. According to FARS (which should be taken with a grain of salt), the missile is capable of propelling a 1400 pound warhead over Mach 3 with active guidance and a range of almost 200 miles. As a comparison, the Exocets used in the Falklands War to sink and/or disable many British ships carried a 360 pound warhead. With a speed of just over 1,000 miles per hour, the Exocet is capable of supersonic speed, but nothing near Mach 3.

The timing of such a test, no matter if it’s true or not, is fairly obvious: Iran threatened a few weeks ago to shut down the Strait of Hormuz to shipping if it was threatened, and the development and deployment of an indigenous anti-ship missile with high effectiveness would greatly increase their bargaining position.

In videos released to the public, the missile is shown being launched from mobile launchers, which would be the most feasible choice in any future conflict: static sites would most probably be the first taken out if the West were to launch an air campaign against the Iranian state. Many countries learned after Desert Storm that the most useful missile system against a Western air campaign is a mobile one.

The obvious Iranian dream weapon would be a missile system that could cover the entire Persian Gulf while also being able to launch at standoff range towards any carrier groups that may be in the Arabian Sea. If it can keep them out of aircraft range, or at least at the extreme range of it, then Western air power to it’s south is negated.

Whether this is an actual system or something older they have gussied up and decided to say is something new is also something to think about. They’ve proven that they have the ability to conduct indigenous engineering programs of fairly high sophistication; the development of the Saeqeh and Azarakesh fighters show that an incremental program is being taken to slowly build up technical know how.

So…is this a new threat to Western naval sovereignty in the Gulf, or is it a huge sham? Perhaps a bit of both, if the Iranians can be counted on for anything. Generally when they do unveil a new piece of equipment, it can be counted on to at least be new. And if they say it was built in Iran, then it can at least be counted on to be built in Iran. But, like used car salesmen, they will always round up on their goods’ strengths when they’re trying to sell them to the public.

What do you think, readers?