Iran claims it has successfully tested a hypersonic missile and a 2,000km range ballistic missile within the past week.
Iran on Monday announced that it had finished testing a new hypersonic missile capable of penetrating all defense systems and that it will soon be unveiled.
Hypersonic missiles, like traditional ballistic missiles that can deliver nuclear weapons, can fly more than five times the speed of sound. A hypersonic missile is also maneuverable, making it harder to track and defend against, and are capable of striking targets in 15-30 minutes from thousands of miles away.
In November 2022, Tehran said it had developed the first national hypersonic ballistic missile. The United States said at the time that it was “skeptical” of Iran’s reports.
While countries like the United States and Israel have developed systems designed to defend against cruise and ballistic missiles, the ability to track and take down a hypersonic missile remains a question.
General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, who commands the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’s aerospace unit, said the development marked a “great leap in the field of missiles,” and that “the hypersonic missile has a high speed and can maneuver both in and out of the Earth’s atmosphere.”
The commander added that the new missile can fly at a speed of 12-15 Mach (8,893-11,116 miles per hour).
Ballistic missile test
Last week, Iran unveiled another version of a ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,242 miles), enough to hit areas of Israel.
The Kheibar missile — the latest version of the Khorramshahr, which is Iran’s longest-range missile to date — was unveiled last Thursday alongside a replica of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City, in a live broadcast on state television.
Iran said the missile had been successfully test-launched, with State TV broadcasting a few seconds of footage of what it said was the launch.
Its name references the ancient town of Khaybar, located in modern-day Saudi Arabia, known for a decisive 7th-century battle in which the army of Prophet Muhammad defeated its thousands of Jewish residents.
China and Russia
Two other countries have hypersonic weapons in service – Russia and China, whilst the US program is still under development.
Russia fired hypersonic Kinzhal missiles at Kyiv on Tuesday, with Ukraine saying it had shot down all six, and Russia claiming one got through air defences to destroy a U.S.-built Patriot surface-to-air anti-missile defence system.
China claimed to have deployed a hypersonic glide vehicle system, the DF-17, in 2020. Its DongFeng-27, with a range of 5,000–8,000 kilometers, is already in service.
The US Army, Navy, and Air Force have their own non-nuclear hypersonic missile development program to develop weapons that fly five times faster than the speed of sound and spend most of their flight in the Earth’s atmosphere.
However, the US technology is yet to reach the deployable stage.
Sources: Times of Israel / Eurasiannews