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Source: Al-Jazeera

Aug 9, 2023

Iran says it has technology to build supersonic missiles amid US tensions

Iran is touting the new technology as Washington has sent thousands of troops to regional waters.

By Maziar Motamedi

Tehran, Iran – Iran has obtained supersonic cruise missile technology, state media have said amid rising tensions with the United States over military deployments in the region.

The missiles are now undergoing tests and “will mark the beginning of a new chapter in the defence power of our country”, the state-linked Tasnim news website reported on Wednesday.

Tasnim said the new missiles could “significantly accelerate the Islamic Republic of Iran’s response time in case of any combat, and take away attacking forces’ opportunity for reaction”.

It did not say when such a missile could potentially complete the testing phase and be publicly unveiled.

Iran has an array of cruise missiles, but none has so far breached Mach 1, or the speed of sound, which is 343 metres per second (1,125 feet per second). A projectile that could travel at speeds between Mach 1 and Mach 5 is considered supersonic.

Projectiles moving at a speed greater than five times the speed of sound are classified as hypersonic. Iran unveiled its first hypersonic ballistic missile – capable of manoeuvring inside and outside the atmosphere – in June saying it is capable of evading radars and breaching any defence system.

The Wednesday announcement on the supersonic cruise missile comes as tensions between Tehran and Washington are on the rise over maritime security in regional waters.

The US Navy said on Monday that more than 3,000 military personnel have arrived in the Red Sea on board two warships to help protect shipping lanes, including those in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, from Iranian “harassment”.

That only added to the US military buildup in the region, including the possibility of putting armed personnel on commercial ships travelling through the strait, which analysts have said risks a significant escalation in an already tense region.

Iran has repeatedly rejected the US military involvement in regional waters, saying it only serves Washington’s interests.

“What do the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean have to do with America,” said Iranian armed forces spokesperson Brigadier-General Abolfazl Shekarchi, as quoted by the semi-official Tasnim news agency. “What is your business being here?”

In response to the US military buildup, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) last week said it has equipped its navy with new drones and 1,000km (600-mile) range missiles.

The IRGC also launched a surprise military drill last week on three islands it controls that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) claims as its own, deploying swarms of fast boats, paratroopers and missile units.

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