Sunday, April 02, 2006

Iran Says Fires Sonar-evading, Underwater Missile

Alireza Ronaghi, Reuters:
Iran has test-fired a sonar-evading underwater missile that can outpace any enemy warship, a senior naval commander told state television on Sunday during a week of war games in the Gulf.

Western nations have been watching developments in Iran's missile capabilities with concern amid a standoff over the Iranian nuclear program, which the West says is aimed at building atomic bombs. Iran says the program is only civilian.

Analysts say the United States could take military action against Iran if it fails to resolve the nuclear dispute through diplomatic means. Iranian commanders say their armed forces are ready to respond to any attack.

Iran earlier in the war games said it tested a radar-evading missile and Sunday's announcement is likely to add to Western worries. Iran has a commanding position over the Strait of Hormuz at the entrance to the Gulf, a shipping route through which passes some two-fifths of all the oil traded in the world.

"This missile evades sonar technology under the water and even if the enemy sonar system could detect its movement under the water, no warship could escape from it because of its high velocity," Revolutionary Guards Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi said.

"The Islamic Republic is now among the only two countries who hold this kind of missile. Under the water the maximum speed that a missile could (usually) move is 25 meters (82 feet) per second, but now we possess a missile which goes as fast as 100 metres (328 feet) per second," he told state television.

The commander used the word "missile" in Fares, rather than "torpedo." READ MORE

"The boats that can launch this missile have a technology that makes them stealthy and nobody could recognize them or act against them," he added.


State television had earlier described the missile as the world's fastest. It also showed images of the weapon being fired from what appeared to be the deck of a ship, followed by the weapon traveling at speed through water.

"It carries a very powerful warhead that enables it to operate against groups of warships and big submarines," Fadavi said.

The test was part of a week of Iranian naval maneuvers that started on Friday and taking place in the Gulf and Sea of Oman. The official IRNA news agency said the maneuvers were to show Iran's "defensive capabilities."

On Friday, Iran said it had successfully test-fired a domestically produced, radar-evading missile, and released images of it being launched into the air from land.

Iranian state television said that missile was called the Fajr-3. But Hossein Salami, head of the Revolutionary Guards air force, did not name the new weapon or give the missile's range, saying it depended on the warhead weight.

The U.S.-based military affairs Web site describes the Fajr-3 as a 240 mm artillery rocket with a 25-mile range, one of a group of light rockets Iran has developed mainly for tactical use on the battlefield.

However, it also says Iran has been working on another missile, called the Kosar, that would be undetectable by radar and designed to sink ships in the Gulf.

Diplomats in Europe said this month that Iran was stepping up development of other missiles capable of carrying atomic warheads. An Iranian official denied the charge.
Shoshanna has more, including Wikipedia's entry on the Shkval-2.