Air Weapons: Iran And The Cursed Cruise Missile

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January 21, 2014: In December 2013 Iran announced that it had recently tested an air-launched version of its Qader cruise missile. Introduced in 2011 as a ship and land launched missile, Qader is a longer range (200 kilometers versus 120 for the early C-802 models) variation on the 715 kg (1,500 pound) Chinese C-802 anti-ship missile that Iran builds under license. The C-802A is a 6.8m (21 foot) long, 360mm diameter, 682kg (1,500 pound) missile, with a 165kg (360 pound) warhead. The C-802 uses a rocket to get started then a small jet engine kicks in. It travels at an altitude of 3-7 meters (10-24 feet) and uses inertial guidance to get to the general area of the target then a radar kicks in to hit ship. So, technically it is a cruise missile and Iran could equip it with GPS to use it as such.

Back in 2011 The Iranian Navy announced plans (never carried out) to send warships to patrol off the coast of the United States. The Iranian ships would be equipped with Qader cruise missiles that could hit targets inside the United States. In theory, Iran could send one of its surface warships (accompanied by several supply ships) to friendly ports in Cuba or Venezuela, and from there cruise off the American coast. The implied threat here was that the missiles on these ships could eventually be equipped with nuclear warheads. Right now, Iran could arm these missiles with nerve gas warheads. But this would not do any substantial damage on American military power, while U.S. retaliation would be substantial against Iran and Cuba or Venezuela if either hosted these ships. Iranians tend to avoid situations where they would get hurt in such a disproportionate way. But just talking about Iranian warships off the coast of North America makes great propaganda. Iranian military affairs is largely talk, not action. Qader appears to be a little of both.

 


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