Iran’s Revolutionary Guards unveiled Sunday a short-range ballistic missile that they said can be powered by a “new generation” of engines designed to put satellites into orbit.
The Guards’ Sepahnews website said the Raad-500 missile was equipped with new Zoheir engines made of composite materials lighter than on earlier steel models.
It also unveiled Salman engines made of the same materials but with a “movable nozzle” for the delivery of satellites into space.
The Raad was “a new generation missile that has half the weight of a Fateh-110 missile but with 200 kilometres more range,” it added.
The Fateh-110 is a ballistic ground-to-ground missile first unveiled in 2002. Its latest generation has a range of 300 kilometres (186 miles).
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Major General Hossein Salami unveiled the missile and engines alongside IRGC aerospace chief Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh.
“The complicated achievements on the bleeding edge of global technology that were unveiled today are our key to entering space,” Salami said.
Salami noted the movable nozzle on the new engine allowed “manoeuvrability beyond the atmosphere” and amounted to a “leap in modern missile technology”.
The new technologies that made the missiles “cheaper, lighter, faster and more precise” could be applied to all of Iran’s missile classes, he added.
Tensions between Iran and its arch foe the United States have soared since May 2018 when US President Donald Trump withdrew from a nuclear deal that offered Tehran sanctions relief in return for curbs to prevent it acquiring nuclear weapons.
Washington says it seeks to rein in Iran’s ballistic missile programme as well as its “destabilising behaviour” in the region.
It has since slapped crippling sanctions on Iran as part of its “maximum pressure” campaign, with Tehran hitting back by progressively rolling back commitments to the nuclear deal.
The US has also raised concerns in the past about Iran’s satellite programme, saying the launch of a carrier rocket in January 2019 amounted to a violation of curbs on its development of ballistic missiles.
Iran maintains it has no intention of acquiring nuclear weapons, and says its aerospace activities are peaceful and comply with a UN Security Council resolution.