Iran's EMAD ballistic missile carries a single Maneuverable Re-Entry Vehicle (MARV) loaded 750 high-explosive warhead. Photo: Iran's MOD
Iran’s EMAD ballistic missile carries a single Maneuverable Re-Entry Vehicle (MARV) loaded 750 high-explosive warhead. Photo: Iran’s MOD

Iran has successfully test fired a new, domestically-produced, medium-range ballistic missile, named Emad (pillar, in Farsi). “This is Iran’s first medium-range missile that can be guided and controlled until hitting the target,” Iran’s Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan was quoted as saying. According to analyst estimates the new missile could be ready for service next year.

The Islamic Republic of Iran already has surface-to-surface missiles with ranges of up to 2,000 kilometers that can hit Israel and US military bases in the region. The new missile seems to be a derivative of these liquid-propelled Ghadr and Shahab missiles. This Medium-Range Ballistic Missile (MRBM) is also powered by liquid-fuel and; according to unconfirmed sources, it has a range of up to 1,700 km., (1,060 miles) carrying a payload of 750 kg (1,650 pounds). Its accuracy is estimated at 500 meters (1,650 ft), compared of 2,000 meters (1.2 miles) accuracy achieved by the current Shahab 3 missile.

Unlike its predecessors, the new model is equipped with a re-entry vehicle which integrates a guidance system that controls four aerodynamic surfaces for endo-atmospheric flight, and thrusters which can adjust the vehicle’s exo-atmospheric trajectory, before it re-enters the earth’s atmosphere.

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Two views of the new MARV employed on the EMAD ballistic missile. Photo: Iranian MOD
Two views of the new MARV employed on the EMAD ballistic missile. Photo: Iranian MOD
[nonmember]In order to gain higher precision, EMAD likely integrates inertial and satellite navigation systems with aerodynamic and propulsion control to guide the re-entry vehicle to its target. Potentially, with these capabilities also enable the reentry vehicle to dodge interceptors, posing a new challenge for missile defenses[/nonmember] [ismember]The new missile is Iran’s first Maneuverable, Re-entry-Vehicle (MaRV)-equipped missile. In order to gain higher precision, EMAD likely integrates inertial navigation systems employed in previous weapons with satellite navigation systems, to compensate for the inertial navigation drift which develops over the long flight trajectory. Having such a navigation system on board also enables the re-entry vehicle to conduct evasive maneuvers, in an attempt to evade or confuse the enemy’s anti-missile systems and significantly to improve accuracy.

Iran has positioned it’s ballistic missile force as a strategic arm capable of attacking Israel. Israel, with U.S. assistance and financial support, has developed and fielded a multi-layered missile-defense network based on the Arrow 2 missile defense system, employing IAI’s Arrow 2 Block 4 interceptors, capable of defeating Iran’s ballistic missiles of the Shahab 3 generation. Additional capabilities are currently in development with Arrow 3 and US THAAD ballistic missile interceptors, soon to be positioned in the Persian Gulf.

The Arrow 3 interceptors will be able to intercept Iran’s missiles in outer space, before the separation of re-entry vehicles. So far the main concern of missile defenses was eliminating the enemy missile’s release of decoys, thus avoiding the challenge of distinguishing the actual target from decoys. A re-entry vehicle that can dodge interceptors will pose a new challenge for missile defenses.[/ismember]