November 30, 2023

The Iranian show of force comes amid heightened US military presence in the region after Israel began bombing Gaza.

Tehran, Iran – Iran has unveiled an upgraded version of its hypersonic missile in a military exhibition for the country’s supreme leader.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday visited a university run by the aerospace division of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in Tehran, where a more advanced version of the Fattah hypersonic missile was put on display along with an array of arms, including the Iranian-made Gaza drone.

A new version of the Shahed series of unmanned aerial vehicles and an upgraded version of the 9-Dey missile defence system, capable of launching short to medium-range projectiles, were also unveiled.

The IRGC in addition displayed a new missile defence system called Mehran, which is said to employ solid-fuel missiles.

Iran had first unveiled the missile in June, joining a small club of countries, including China and Russia, which have weapons capable of travelling long distances with strong maneuverability.

The Iranian state media said the Fattah II missile is a hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV), a projectile that glides to its target after the initial launch, offering substantially more maneuverability compared to a ballistic warhead travelling in a more predictable arc pattern.

No more information was provided on the upgraded version on Sunday, but Iran had said Fattah is capable of moving at a speed of up to Mach 15 (5.1 km or 3.2 miles per second) with a range of 1,400km (870 miles).

IRGC officials had said in June that the elite force could look to improve its range of hypersonics to 2,000km (1,242 miles), which would effectively cover the distance to Iran’s regional archenemy, Israel.

The Iranian supreme leader on Sunday again condemned Israel and its Western allies for their war on the Gaza Strip, which has killed more than 12,000 Palestinians, nearly half of them children.

Khamenei said “the Zionist regime is a symbol of racism”, adding that Western backing for the weeks-long bombing of the enclave means Western leaders “also believe in racism and see nothing wrong with it”.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (centre right) during a visit to the IRGC aerospace achievement exhibition in Tehran [Handout from]

He said brutal attacks on hospitals in Gaza indicate anger on the part of Israeli leaders due to their “failure” in defeating Palestinian fighters.

“The Islamic governments must sever their political relations with the Zionist regime at least for a limited time,” Khamenei said, also calling on the Muslim states to cut the flow of energy and goods to Israel.

The Iranian military show of force came as the United States moved considerable military assets, including two carrier strike groups and a nuclear submarine, to the region.

Under the umbrella of the Iran-backed “resistance axis” of political and armed groups across the region, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Yemen’s Houthis have been engaged in cross-border fighting with Israel since last month in solidarity with Hamas fighters.

Israel on Sunday said the Houthis seized a British-owned and Japanese-operated cargo ship in the southern Red Sea, describing the indent as an “Iranian act of terrorism”.


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