Two new indigenously-developed missile systems – a long-range ballistic system and a cruise missile – were unveiled during National Defence Industry Day in Iran on 20 August, according to the FARS news agency.

The 1,400km-range ballistic missile is apparently named after Lt Gen Qasem Soleimani, killed by US forces in January. The cruise missile, with a 1,000+km range, is designated Martyr Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, after one of Soleimani’s colleagues killed in the same drone attack.

The announcement came as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was poised to inform the UN Security Council that Washington intends to seek the restoration of US sanctions on Iran, following the nation’s failure to agree to stricter limits on its nuclear programmes or curb its missile development. Tehran has rejected negotiations until US sanctions are lifted.

Calling the recent advances “a strategic exercise to attract new buyers,” Dr Mathew George – an analyst at data and analytics firm GlobalData – continued “Iran has developed its military capabilities domestically over the past decade or so to circumvent the arms embargo, leading to the occasional demonstration and announcement of new aircraft, [UAVs] and developments in armaments. Yet, concerns still exist around whether the specifications mentioned are definite capabilities or whether they are ‘hyped’ versions of older devices, with the latest QASEM SOLEIMANI missile looking identical to the older SHAHAB 3 ballistic missile […] While these developments are a cause of concern for many countries in the region, an additional supplier of arms in to the global market will be welcomed by many countries interested in these technologies, but without the deep pockets and rigorous prerequisites required to purchase from traditional suppliers.”

Other announcements at the same time serving to highlight the inexorable advances of the Iranian defence industry included news that the YASIN, A-90 and FAJR-3 training aircraft are in their final test phase and will soon enter service; that the nation’s first indigenous turbojet engine, the OWL, has entered series production; and that a further three KOWSAR fourth-generation fighters will shortly be delivered to the Air Force.

Analysts have yet to definitively prove that the QASEM SOLEIMANI ballistic missile is truly a different system from the existing SHAHAB-3, which it closely reesembles. (Photo of SHAHAB-3 via Wikipedia Commons)

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