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Philosopher

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Author: Philosopher
Topic: Short article on Iran's anti-ship ballistic missiles

In February 2011, Iran revealed a new ballistic missile called "Persian Gulf" (PG), this missile was a development on the Iranian Fateh-110 "quasi" ballistic missile but with an Electro-Optic seeker. What made this missile specially important was the fact it was designed specifically for anti-ship roles meaning at the time, Iran and China were the only two nations that had anti-ship ballistic missiles in service. The PG missile has a range of 300km, 650kg warhead, speed of Mach-3 (terminal) and CEP of around 1-2 meters making it an extremely potent weapon against the fleets of Iranian adversaries in the Persian Gulf.


Persian Gulf missile:

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Persian Gulf missile in action:

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A few years later, in 2014, Iran revealed two new addition to its anti-ship ballistic missile arsenal, namely Hormuz-1 and Hormuz-2 both also developed from the Fateh-110. Hormuz-1 was possibly the world's first anti-radiation ballistic missile in active service, meaning this missile is designed to home onto the electromagnetic waves given off by a naval vessel's radars. The other missile, Hormuz-2, has an Active radar seeker. In terms of overall capability (range, warhead etc), they are similar to the previous Persian Gulf missile but they have a faster terminal velocity.

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Hormuz-1 and Hormuz-2 missiles.

Hormuz-1 anti radiation missile used against radar target


The combination of the above missiles utilising three different types of seekers is a very potent offensive capability as they give the adversaries multiple seeker types to content with, for example, the existence of the anti radiation missile will make any radar emitting vessels vulnerable, putting defenders in a relatively more difficult position. Do you keep radars on and be vulnerable to this missile or limit your radar emissions and as a consequence become much more vulnerable to other threats? Of course Electronic warfare could in theory be used as a countermeasure but the missile designers have taken electronic warfare into account. Another important point to keep in mind about the above systems is that they are designed to fired together in volleys as demonstrated by Iran in the recent naval war-games (see below). In other words, the adversary will not be dealing with these systems in a consecutive manner but all at once.

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Persian Gulf, Hormuz-1 and Hormuz-2 fired simultaneously against naval target.


A significant leap in range
Iran's missile program is extremely dynamic with new advancements being made on a near monthly basis. When Iran revealed its longer range versions of the Fateh-110 family called Zolfiqar missile with a 700-750km range in 2017, people immediately talked about this missile also having an anti-ship variant. And in September 2020 those people were proven right when Iran showcased an anti-ship variant of Zolfiqar missile called Zolfiqar Basir using an Electro-optic seeker and a range of 700-750km. This means the range of Iran's anti-ship ballistic missile were at minimum now doubled compared to the previous missiles. Something else to bare in mind is that is the Zolfiqar Basir is certainly not a "new" missile and instead has certainly been around for a while. Given other longe range missiles in Iran's arsenal such as Dezfoul (1000km range), Haj Qassem (1400-1800km range) and Sejill (see below) it is safe to say Iran has even longer anti ship ballistic missiles.


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Zolfiqar Basir anti-ship ballistic missile with 700-75-km range.


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Zolfiqar Basir Electro-optic seeker visible


The future

For many years now Iran has talked about the existence of an anti-ship ballistic missile with 2000-3000km range. The existence of this missile has been confirmed by the head of IRGC's aerospace force, General Hajizadeh. Therefore, we can be certain of this missile's existence and readiness but what is hindering its full operation capability is Iran's current lack ability to detect and track ships at those long distances in order to use this missile effectively. However, with Iran's rapidly growing UAV, radar and satellite capabilities we can be sure that in the near future Iran will reach the technological means to be able to target ships at those ranges. To conclude, Iran is one of few nations on the planet actively fielding anti-ship ballistic missiles and these are constantly increasing in potency. These missiles, especially when combined with Iran's other offensive capabilities (such as UAVS) give it a highly effective area/access denial capability at the sea (and land). We will watch Iran's development in this area closely and with excitement to see what other capabilities will be developed by Iran.

References:

1- https://www.mashreghnews.ir/news/224818/دقت-موشک-خلیج-فارس-به-زیر-۱۰-متر-رسید

2- https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/iransource/iran-s-ballistic-missile-inventory/

3-https://www.yjc.ir/fa/news/6947668/%D8%A2%D8%B2%D9%85%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%B4-%D9%85%D9%88%D8%B4%DA%A9-%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%B2%D9%86-%D9%87%D8%B1%D9%85%D8%B2-%DB%B1-%D9%81%DB%8C%D9%84%D9%85

4- https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990706000932

5- https://www.youtube.com /watch?v=1RcvQRuVJyA
 
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Sina-1

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Great piece! Question is if sejjil will now be phased out because of a more effective Haj qassem system?
 

Philosopher

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Great piece! Question is if sejjil will now be phased out because of a more effective Haj qassem system?
If they applied their newer technologies (in terms of materials) to sejill, it will be become quite a long reaching system, for political reasons they may keep that on the quiet side for now. Even the original system a range of around 2500km. In terms of what they decide to do with the Sejill program, it really depends what role Sejill was playing for Iran. There is no doubt Sejill had a "special" role for Iran's missiles, but what that was exactly we do not know. Regarding Haj Qassem, to me that is an interim missile and not one that will enter mass production. There will certainly be a newer missile that uses the Raad-500 full carbon fiber body method.
 

Philosopher

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Very impressive. Emad itself is quite a few years old now so we can only imagine what sort of technologies they have today.
 

makranman

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Another candidate for anti-ship roles is the Khoramshahr missile. That missile is very deadly with a 1500-1800kg warhead. Here is a test footage showing the accuracy of its MaRV. It looks like a meteorite!
has anybody ever tried something like a 1.5-2 tons of explosives on a carrier like ship? I have seen clips of a few hundrad tons of TNT to a nuclear explosion. but a 1-2 tons?
 

Ich

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has anybody ever tried something like a 1.5-2 tons of explosives on a carrier like ship? I have seen clips of a few hundrad tons of TNT to a nuclear explosion. but a 1-2 tons?
The warhead is the second what is important. The first is the velocity of the hitting missile. It breaks through the deck and the warhead explode inside the ship.
 

Philosopher

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Few points to note, it is very important to remember that the naval vessels themselves are volatile where even a small explosion can set off chain explosions on the ship. Look into the 1967 USS Forrestal fire where a small fire on the carrier led to chain explosions killing 134 sailors. Now you can imagine what a 1500kg high explosive warhead traveling at mach 13-15 will be do. Having said that, a large 1500kg warhead in Khoramshahr is important for another reason. This being that it gives more room for cluster warheads.

When using cluster warheads, it is not necessary for the MaRV to actually hit the vessel, which remember are not static and are moving at sea. This is one major advantage of using cluster systems, the other being it is much more difficult to deal with 100's of bomblets than to deal with 1 MaRV. Depending on that number of bomblets, you can spread these over 10s or 100s of meters (even more).

The other point to note is you are not necessarily looking to sink the ships but simply to put them out of commission. Spending energy in sinking a vessel has little added military value, and could actually be counter productive if it causes the adversary to retaliative rashly due to large number of causalities. In terms of pure psychological warfare value, I'd argue taking over a ship is much more worthwhile than sinking it.

Regarding the cluster warheads, here are some that were shown by Iran last week:


Quite a larger one, perhaps for Khoramshahr missile:

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A smaller warhead belonging to the Qiam family:
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makranman

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The warhead is the second what is important. The first is the velocity of the hitting missile. It breaks through the deck and the warhead explode inside the ship.
a big explosion inside a billion dollar ship with tens of beautiful fighter jets on it. :cheesy: :cheesy: i really don't want to be in that ship...

Few points to note, it is very important to remember that the naval vessels themselves are volatile where even a small explosion can set off chain explosions on the ship. Look into the 1967 USS Forrestal fire where a small fire on the carrier lead to chain explosions killing 134 sailors. Now you can imagine what a 1500kg high explosive warhead traveling at mach 13-15 will be do. Having said that, a large 1500kg warhead in Khoramshahr is important for another reason. This being that it gives more room for cluster warheads.

When using cluster warheads, it is not necessary for the MaRV to actually hit the vessel, which remember are not static and are moving at sea. This is one major advantage of using cluster systems, the other being it is much more difficult to deal with 100's of bomblets than to deal with 1 MaRV. Depending on that number of bomblets, you can spread these over 10s or 100s of meters (even more).

The other point to note is you are not necessarily looking to sink the ships but simply to put them out of commission. Spending energy in sinking a vessel has little added military value, and could actually be counter productive if it causes the adversary to retaliative rashly due to large number of causalities. In terms of pure psychological warfare value, I'd argue taking over a ship is much more worthwhile than sinking it.
so one can imagine a handful of rockets and small missiles from IRGC boats can actually be very dangerous to a carrier or a destroyer. all it takes is 1 rocket to start a mess on a multi billion dollar ship.

I always wondered how could it be useful and why we make more of it... now it makes total sense...
 

LeGenD

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a big explosion inside a billion dollar ship with tens of beautiful fighter jets on it. :cheesy: :cheesy: i really don't want to be in that ship...



so one can imagine a handful of rockets and small missiles from IRGC boats can actually be very dangerous to a carrier or a destroyer. all it takes is 1 rocket to start a mess on a multi billion dollar ship.

I always wondered how could it be useful and why we make more of it... now it makes total sense...
An aircraft carrier such as Nimitz class and the latest Ford class feature hundreds of compartments (each can be sealed) coupled with layers of armoring, firefighting arrangements, and numerous Passive/Active defenses to counter a wide range of external threats which are not openly discussed in the Public domain (kinda surprising, right?). These ships are also among the fastest moving in the world - it is virtually impossible to keep tabs on them in OPEN OCEAN.

These ships do not travel alone either - they are shielded by a number of well-equipped destroyers, cruisers, and even submarines while on the move. Secondly, all those aircraft and helicopters stationed on the aircraft carrier have a purpose - that is to create situational awareness for the entire strike package and attack enemy forces when spotted.

Iranians drills cannot simulate all of the above - not even close. No country can in fact (impossible).

Why do you think China is pouring funds into developing and replicating American CSG level capabilities for PLAN even though it have substantial investment in ASBM and such? A question worth pondering...
 

Philosopher

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The right tool for the right job. Carrier strike groups have their own purposes, hence why other nations are pursuing them. Look at it another way, having the ability to shoot down fighter jets (incl low RCS) does not mean you removed the need to build such an asset. Similar situation in this case. Regardless of the vulnerabilities of the surface fleets today, their ability to deliver their purpose still outweighs their vulnerabilities. Most nations on the planet have limited offensive capabilities. Not every nation is like Iran and China and have anti-ship ballistic missiles etc. And when we look at nations that do have the capability to harm each other in this way, this serves to create a deterrence against one another. Having a carrier group means you can protect your interests globally by extending this same deterrence cover over them. It's because of this reason that the US has to be physically present in places like South China Sea. Not because their fleets are immune to Chinese attacks, but because of this deterrence cover.

With regards to how the US carrier groups function, this is nothing new for Iran. In the unlikely event of an Iran-US skirmish, the Americans would be limited in terms of how close and how far they can keep their fleets from Iran. Iran's focus today is to push that limit further and further away. The existence of long range anti-fleet weapons are a large part of this, however like I discussed in the opening comment, Iran's "eyes" today need to catch up to its offensive capability. In the coming years, you will see Iran's permanent presence in the Indian ocean, this combined with other developments (too many to discuss) will serve to greatly increase Iran's vision.

IRGC to Set Up Permanent Base in Indian Ocean

 

Philosopher

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so one can imagine a handful of rockets and small missiles from IRGC boats can actually be very dangerous to a carrier or a destroyer. all it takes is 1 rocket to start a mess on a multi billion dollar ship.

I always wondered how could it be useful and why we make more of it... now it makes total sense...
IRGCs military boats are like hornets, they will sting individually and collectively decimate. Now newer tactics are being applied for example, using boats as launch platforms for suicide UAVS:

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