Iran Test-Fires Domestic Missile System

Orkhan Jalilov Feature 1 September 2021
Iran Test-Fires Domestic Missile System

The Iranian Army has successfully test-fired a new generation of the domestically manufactured Mersad-16 missile system in the Dasht-e Kavir desert in the country’s north-central province of Semnan.

Brigadier General Mohammad Khoshghalb, the Deputy Chief of Operations of the Army Air Defense, has said the Hazrat Valiasr Command and Control Center used the missile system for the first time to discover, identify, and destroy targets.

“The Mersad 16 missile system is entirely indigenous and benefits from new technologies to counter with electronic warfare and simultaneously engage with several targets,” Khoshghalb said on August 31, according to a report by Mehr news agency.

Developed in 2010, Mersad is a low- to mid-range air defense system. It fires Shahin missiles which are reportedly reverse-engineered, domestically upgraded versions of the American MIM-23 Hawk surface-to-air missiles. The system also uses a series of domestically produced radars and electronic devices.

Compared to Mersad’s previous generations, the Mersad-16 system can be installed on a truck, use new Iranian radars (Hafez and Najm-804), a launcher, or a box launcher and “Shalamcheh 2” missile.

This medium-altitude surface-to-air missile system can detect and take action against enemy targets at any flight altitude in real time. The optimized variant of the system would be unveiled in the near future.

On September 1, Iran's army unveiled the new domestically made Alborz radar system on the occasion of Army Air Defence Day. The Alborz is three-dimensional phased array radar which detects and tracks long-range air targets with low radar cross-section. The system has a maximum range of 450 km and can also detect targets flying at low altitude, and it can track 300 targets simultaneously.

On August 29, Iran’s army conducted an air defense surveillance drill codenamed “Ya Basir” across the country to test the preparedness of the regional command centers and air defense divisions and expand fixed and mobile surveillance posts in the impassable areas and passages. The military exercise aimed to assess the military readiness of the new reconnaissance network of the army’s air defense network, which is equipped with electronic, electro-optic, and resistance systems to counter enemy electronic warfare. These systems can find various types of flying objects, including drones and cruise missiles.

Meanwhile, the stimulator of Iran’s homegrown long-range Bavar-373 SAM system is expected to be unveiled on September 1.

More advanced than the S-300 missile system, the Bavar-373 is a fully homegrown, impenetrable, anti-hacking air defense system. It has a high capability of engaging with various types of covert and stealth aircraft as well as cruise and ballistic missiles. The Bavar-373 can also neutralize both conventional aerial targets such as aircraft and drones and high-speed ballistic missiles.

Iran also plans to put the “Joshan” advanced missile system into operation by March 2022 after undergoing final tests.

In May, Iran unveiled three new defense technologies, including the “Quds” radar system, a surface-to-air missile system dubbed “9-Day”, and the “Gaza” drone with a 2,000 km operating range.

Iran possesses the largest and most diverse missile arsenal in the Middle East, with thousands of ballistic and cruise missiles, some capable of striking as far as Israel and southeast Europe. For the past decade, Iran has invested significantly to improve these weapons’ precision and lethality. Such developments have made Iran’s missile forces a potent tool for Iranian power projection and a credible threat to U.S. and partner military forces in the region.

Iran has not yet tested or deployed a missile capable of striking the United States, but continues to hone longer-range missile technologies under the auspices of its space-launch program.