by Waseem Shehzad (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 52, No. 10, Jumada' al-Ula', 1444)
For weeks, the western corporate media has indulged in intense propaganda about Iran supplying drones to Russia that have caused havoc in Ukraine. Initially, Iran denied the reports. Then, on November 5, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hussein Amirabollahian told reporters that Tehran had provided some drones to Russia but this was before the start of the war in Ukraine.
“Some western countries have accused Iran of helping the war in Ukraine by providing drones and missiles to Russia. The part regarding missiles is completely wrong. The part about drones is correct, we did provide a limited number of drones to Russia in the months before the start of the war in Ukraine,” said Iran’s top diplomat.
What is interesting to note is that for years, western regimes have been warning other countries to not supply weapons to Iran. Now, they have changed their tune. The new mantra is: “Don’t buy weapons from Iran.” Throughout these years, Iran has been saying that it was making headway in drone and missile technology. This was dismissed as mere propaganda.
That a major military power like Russia would obtain drones from Iran shows their level of sophistication. Not surprisingly, more than 22 countries have lined-up to buy Iranian drones. There is an even more impressive development relating to Iran’s missile technology.
It has produced a homegrown hypersonic ballistic missile capable of penetrating sophisticated aerial defense shields and striking designated targets. This was announced by Brigadier General Amir-Ali Hajizadeh, the commander of IRGC’s Aerospace Division, on November 10.
Elaborating on the missile’s capabilities, General Hajizadeh said: “The missile has a high velocity and can maneuver both in and out of the Earth’s atmosphere.” Speaking to reporters in Tehran, he added: “The new missile can pass through all missile defense systems, and I don’t think that the technology capable of countering it will be achieved [even] in the decades to come. It can target the enemy’s anti-missile systems, and its production marks a huge leap in the development of a new generation of missiles.”
Development of Iran’s hypersonic missile comes in the wake of another missile, the upgraded version of the domestically-designed and manufactured Bavar-373 (Belief-373) surface-to-air missile system. It was unveiled together with inauguration of the production line of the long-range Sayad B4 missile by Iran’s Defense Ministry on November 6.
The “Bavar-373 system was initially capable of destroying targets at 200 kilometers,” according to Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Ashtiani. He explained during the unveiling ceremony that “the upgraded system, aiming to attack targets at very long range, [including] ballistic missiles, fighter aircraft, and bombers, can destroy targets at 300 kilometers.”
Among its other capabilities, the missile system can engage up to six targets at a time and destroy them. Many technologically advanced countries do not possess such a system at the present time.
Since the victory of the Islamic revolution, Iran has been denied military equipment, mostly US-made. During the Shah’s regime, Iran was virtually an American colony. Almost all of its equipment, planes, tanks, ships, artillery and ammunition, were US supplied. After the revolution, there was a complete halt to supplies. Even spare parts for civilian aircraft were denied resulting in many crashes in which precious lives were lost.
The initial years of the revolution were extremely difficult for Iran. A war was imposed through Iraq which had the backing of virtually the entire world. Saddam Husain’s regime was supplied with every kind of weapon including chemical and biological weapons. The Iraqi regime used these weapons on Iranian soldiers and revolutionary guards subjecting thousands of them to slow painful death. Since the west was supplying such banned weapons, there was no censure of Iraq or Saddam.
Iran had to make some painful choices. Unable to get spare parts for its aging F-14 fleet, it had to resort to cannibalising some to keep other planes operational. Also, parts were used long after their expiration date causing many crashes.
It was in the early days of the war that Iranian military planners especially in the IRGC realized that in the absence of planes, they had to concentrate on the development of missiles. Young Iranian scientists worked extremely hard to master this technology. Through trial and error, they managed to produce missiles, first of limited range and gradually increased it.
With each new development, their confidence level increased. The range of missiles and drones Iran has produced is the direct result of this effort, borne of sincerity and hard work.
What is equally impressive is that Iran’s missiles have achieved a level of accuracy that few countries can match. In order to safeguard these assets, Iran has dug deep underground facilities where these missiles and drones are stored. No enemy missile or bomb can reach them.
Sincerity and hard work have paid off for Iran. Its missiles and drones are a testimony to its achievements. Iran’s enemies are terrified of its power. The result is an impressive array of missiles.
The Bavar-373 system detection radar, for instance, has increased its range from 350 to 450 kms. Its range of engagement has risen from 260 to 400 kms. It has also increased its engagement altitude from 27 to 32 kms.
Many missile system production lines have also become operational, including that of Sayad B4. It is interesting, and quite revealing, to note that during negotiations over Iran’s peaceful nuclear program, western regimes repeatedly brought up the subject of Iran’s missile program. This was firmly rejected by Iranian negotiators.
This is one red line Iran will never allow anyone to cross. Its self-defence is non-negotiable.