Amid rising tensions with two of its biggest adversaries – Israel and the United States, Iran unveiled its first-ever hypersonic missile,’ Fattah, which it claims can penetrate all enemy missile defense systems.
Developed by IRGC Aerospace Force specialists, the ‘Fattah’ hypersonic ballistic missile was unveiled in the presence of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and senior commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
According to state media, the missile has a range of 1,400 kilometers (870 miles), can travel at speeds of up to Mach 15 (5,145 meters or 16,880 feet per second), and uses solid propellants to enable high maneuverability.
The name of the missile was reportedly chosen by the Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and roughly translates to “to make victorious.”
The unveiling of Fattah is significant because Iran would become the first country in the entire Middle Eastern region to wield a hypersonic weapon that moves at more than five times the speed of sound.
In general, hypersonic missiles are known to be difficult to intercept due to exceptional maneuverability. According to Iranian media, the ‘Fattah’ missile additionally has stealth characteristics, allowing it to pass through radar systems.
#BREAKING– IRAN unveiled its First-ever Hypersonic Missile ‘FATTAH.’
According to Iranian media, the Fattah hypersonic missile has a range of 1,400 kilometers and hits speeds of Mach 13-15. The reports claim that the missile is able to bypass and destroy air defense systems.… pic.twitter.com/G6WjgHuHBL
— EurAsian Times (@THEEURASIATIMES) June 6, 2023
The reports note that the missile can overcome various kinds of air defense systems by performing a variety of maneuvers in and out of the Earth’s atmosphere, thanks to its solid fuel propulsion system and second-stage mobile nozzle.
As soon as the missile was unveiled, it triggered an intense discussion among military watchers for its distinctive design. Instead of a high-lift HGV, it uses a speed-optimized MaRV with a thrust vectoring sustainer motor.
Iran has unveiled its 'FATTAH' hypersonic ballistic missile, with a range of 1400km and maximum speed of Mach 15.
Instead of a high-lift HGV, it uses a speed-optimised MaRV with a thrust vectoring sustainer motor.
— Aᴍɪʀ (@AmirIGM) June 6, 2023
Speaking at the high voltage unveiling ceremony, Commander of the IRGC Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said that after unveiling the ‘Fattah,’ Iran has become just the fourth country in the world to have this technology, without naming the said countries.
Global military experts have cast doubts on Iran’s claims about Fattah being a hypersonic missile, labeling it an Iranian attempt at information warfare. Moreover, the alleged interception of Russia’s Kinzhal hypersonic missile by a Patriot has further brought into suspicion the “invincibility” of hypersonic missiles.
A military expert from the region who did not wish to be quoted told EurAsian Times, “In the dearth of any substantial evidence, it is hard to believe that they have a sophisticated technology that even the most technologically advanced countries are struggling with. Tehran is bluffing or highly exaggerating its capabilities. It is more of an ‘info war’ just like we see between Russia and Ukraine.”
It may still be a deeply unsettling precedent for Iran’s regional adversaries, especially Israel. In November 2022, a popular Iranian newspaper published a covert threat to Israel on its front page, warning that a new Iranian hypersonic missile could reach Israel in just 400 seconds.
While Iranian officials are boasting that their brand-new hypersonic missile could breach all enemy defenses, Israel is aggressively promoting its David’s Sling air defense system to foreign customers after a recent successful combat performance demonstrated by the system.
Israel Is Marketing David’s Sling To Europe
A key executive at Rafael stated that the business is trying to make sales “deeper into Europe” and possibly further beyond, riding the success of actual interceptions in Israel by the David’s Sling air defense system in the recent series of hostilities with Gaza Strip-based militants.
In a recent interview with Breaking Defense, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Air and Missile Defense Systems Division Pini Yungman said, “It’s a long journey. I believe that it will happen. The journey began with Finland,” referring to a deal announced in April for Helsinki to buy the system for $345 million.
With the help of interceptor missiles, Iron Dome, and David’s Sling, according to Yungman, the company may “go onto more business activities [in] Europe, and the US Army and other customers may be in the east.”
Israel’s middle-tier interceptor, the David’s Sling air defense system, is positioned between the high-altitude, anti-ballistic Arrow system and the short-range Iron Dome system, which Rafael also manufactures.
Praising David’s Sling, Yungman said the system “is designed to intercept all threats and has been operational since April 2017. It was designed and built to intercept long-range threats, including low-altitude maneuvering missiles and missiles that fly at high speeds.”
The three systems work together to form the nation’s multi-layered air defense system, neutralizing everything from mortars to long-range missiles. Israel has primarily used Iron Dome to intercept rockets over the years, but in a recent conflict with militants in Gaza, Israel is said to have used David’s Sling for the first time to intercept two rockets.
“The results were very good. Two operational interceptions by David’s Sling. Many interceptions by Iron Dome. More than 95 percent success by Iron Dome. One hundred percent success by David’s Sling,” Yungman said. “Now they know [David’s Sling is] not only a system that can do fantastic, outstanding results in test ranges but in real life.”
Projecting it an appropriate choice for Europe following the Finnish deal, Yungman said, “I’m 100 percent sure countries in Europe understand what is going on and understand the threats that exist and will be developed and produced for the future.”
Several European nations field the Patriot, and Yungman said Rafael is “willing to do integration [with the] Patriot for European countries.”