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Iran Launches "Another" Missile

Dec 2, 2017
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A C-802 anti-ship missile, being fired from a shore battery (GlobalSecurity.org photo)

Reuters claims that Iran has test-fired a new “long range” missile, although specific details on the weapon–and its capabilities–are lacking.

And, making matters even more muddled, the wire service report is based on Iranian press accounts. As we’ve seen in the past, Tehran’s military (and its state-run media) are not above fabricating accounts of military “achievement.” Last year’s “photo-shopped” image of a missile test are one case in point.

According to Reuters, the initial report consisted of a scroll on Press TV, another government-controlled media outlet. “Iran test fires new long-range missile” said the headline, without giving details. Later, the semi-official Fars news agency said that the weapon is actually an anti-ship missile, launched by military aircraft. The missile has a reported range of 110 km.

But available information suggests the weapon isn’t new, nor does represent a significant upgrade for Iranian military capabilities. The missile is believed to be a variant of the C-802, a Chinese-designed, anti-ship missile that has been in Tehran’s inventory for more than a decade.

Normally fired from surface vessels or shore batteries, the C-802 can also be employed by tactical aircraft. Intelligence sources tell In From the Cold that Iran has been experimenting with air-launched versions of the missile for several years. Imagery from 2006 showed a possible C-802 mounted on an F-4 Phantom at Iran’s Bandar Abbas Airbase, near the Strait of Hormuz. There have also been reports of “live fire” tests from F-4s, which remain the workhorse of the Iranian fighter inventory.

Despite its relative age, the C-802 remains a threat to naval vessels and commercial ships. During its war with Israel three years ago, Hizballah used a C-802 to damage an Israeli Saar-5 patrol craft, enforcing a blockade off the Lebanese coast. A second missile damaged a cargo ship operating in Lebanese waters. A subsequent investigation indicated that the Israeli vessel was on “weapons tight” status at the time of the attack, preventing use of its own missiles for self-defense.

With a maximum range of 120 km–and past testing involving Iranian aircraft–the C-802 seems to fit the general profile of the missile tested by Tehran. Other reports suggest that Iran and North Korea have modified the C-802, improving its accuracy against naval targets.
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