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Iran Unveils 'Hypersonic Missile'      06/06 06:11


   DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- Iran claimed on Tuesday that it had 
created a hypersonic missile capable of traveling at 15 times the speed of 
sound, adding a new weapon to its arsenal as tensions remain high with the 
United States over Tehran's nuclear program.

   The new missile -- called Fattah, or "Conqueror" in Farsi -- was unveiled 
even as Iran said it would reopen its diplomatic posts on Tuesday in Saudi 
Arabia after reaching a dtente with Riyadh following years of conflict.

   The tightly choreographed segment on Iranian state television apparently 
sought to show that Tehran's hard-line government can still deploy arms against 
its enemies across much of the Middle East.

   "Today we feel that the deterrent power has been formed," Iranian President 
Ebrahim Raisi said at the event. "This power is an anchor of lasting security 
and peace for the regional countries."

   Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard's 
aerospace program, unveiled what appeared to be a model of the missile. 
Hajizadeh claimed the missile had a range of up to 1,400 kilometers (870 miles).

   That's about mid-range for Iran's expansive ballistic missile arsenal, which 
the Guard has built up over the years as Western sanctions largely prevent it 
from accessing advanced weaponry.

   "There exists no system that can rival or counter this missile," Hajizadeh 

   That claim, however, depends on how maneuverable the missile is. Ballistic 
missiles fly on a trajectory in which anti-missile systems like the Patriot can 
anticipate their path and intercept them. Tuesday's event showed what appeared 
to be a moveable nozzle for the Fattah, which could allow it to change 
trajectories in flight. The more irregular the missile's flight path, the more 
difficult it becomes to intercept.

   Iranian officials did not release footage of a Fattah successfully launching 
and then striking a target. Hajizadeh later said that there had been a ground 
test of the missile's engine.

   A ground test involves a rocket motor being put on a stand and fired to 
check its abilities while launching a missile with that rocket motor is much 
more complex.

   Hypersonic weapons, which fly at speeds in excess of Mach 5, or five times 
the speed of sound, could pose crucial challenges to missile defense systems 
because of their speed and maneuverability. Iran described the Fattah as being 
able to reach Mach 15 -- which is 15 times the speed of sound.

   China is believed to be pursuing the weapons, as is America. Russia claims 
to already be fielding the weapons and has said it used them on the battlefield 
in Ukraine. However, speed and maneuverability isn't a guarantee the missile 
will successfully strike a target. Ukraine's air force in May said it shot down 
a Russian hypersonic Kinzhal missile with a Patriot battery.

   Gulf Arab countries allied with the U.S. widely use the Patriot missile 
system in the region. Israel, Iran's main rival in the Mideast, also has its 
own robust air defenses.

   In November, Hajizadeh initially claimed that Iran had created a hypersonic 
missile, without offering evidence to support it. That claim came during the 
nationwide protests that followed the September death of 22-year-old Mahsa 
Amini after her arrest by the country's morality police.

   Tuesday's announcement came as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is to 
begin a visit to Saudi Arabia.

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