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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

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Iran's Missile-Rattling Ups the Ante PDF Print E-mail
Written by W. THOMAS SMITH JR.   
Tuesday, 15 July 2008

‘WE MEAN BUSINESS’ - An F-22 Raptor, shown here performing during an air show in California, is the U.S. Air Force's newest fighter aircraft. Its combination of stealth, supercruise, maneuverability, and integrated avionics, coupled with improved supportability, represents an exponential leap in warfighting capabilities. (US Air Force Photo)
‘WE MEAN BUSINESS’ - An F-22 Raptor, shown here performing during an air show in California, is the U.S. Air Force's newest fighter aircraft. Its combination of stealth, supercruise, maneuverability, and integrated avionics, coupled with improved supportability, represents an exponential leap in warfighting capabilities. (US Air Force Photo)

In the wake of Iran's lighting off several medium-range ballistic missiles, or MRBMs – including one that never got off the ground, but was doctored in a widely publicized photograph to make it look as if it did – there has been much speculation about Iran's missile capability: The greatest fear being that Iranian MRBMs could strike targets almost anywhere in the Middle East, including Israel and many U.S. bases, perhaps even reaching targets in southern and eastern Europe (perhaps most of Europe if Iran decided to move some of its missiles to Hezbollah-controlled zones in Lebanon).

Even worse is the prospect that a soon-to-be-nuclear Iran could tip its missiles with nuclear warheads.

According to Iran, the missiles tested included a new and improved version of the Shahab-3 (in some circles known as the Shahab-4), an MRBM capable of hitting targets 1,250 miles away from their launching sites.

U.S. Defense Department officials, however, say Iran did not test anything new, and it is doubtful that any Shahab missile launched last week would be able to reach out beyond 800 miles. Iran was "firing off old equipment in an attempt to intimidate their neighbors and escalate tension in the region," said Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell.

Escalate tension indeed.

The Shahab (translated from Farsi means "meteor" or "shooting star") is a liquid-fueled, tractor-transportable MRBM based heavily on the model of North Korea's Nodong missile. The Shahab is also what the Iranian mullahs hope is the next step toward achieving intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) status.

"The Shahab-3 is the missile the Iranians are looking at as a building block toward an ICBM," Peter Brookes, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense and a senior fellow with the Heritage Foundation, tells me. "What the North Koreans did to attempt an ICBM was to basically strap a couple of Nodongs together to make a Taepodong, which is the one that failed in 1998 and 2006."

Nevertheless, if 10 missiles are launched and nine fail, that still leaves one; and the Sahab-3 is reportedly capable of delivering a 1,800 to 2,600-pound conventional or nuclear warhead. Moreover, Iran's so-called test-firings last week indicate the Persian state has no intention of ending either its missile development or its nuclear program despite the fact that Israel, the United States, and the greater West are increasingly being backed into corners over whether or not the military option must be unleashed to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and the means to deliver it.

"The Iranian's are not just igniting something that goes off," Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely (U.S. Army, ret.), former deputy commanding general of U.S. Army Forces Pacific and current co-chairman of the Iran Policy Committee (IPC), tells me. "They are currently fine-tuning their systems to include perfecting command-and-control, launching, tracking, trajectory, those kinds of things. They've yet to perfect putting a warhead on the Shahab, but they're working toward full-capability, including nuclear, biological, and chemical."

Dr. Jill Dekker, a bio-warfare expert and consultant to NATO, agrees.

"Both Iran and Syria possess highly advanced chemical and biological weapons programs," says Dekker. "Syria's chem[ical] program is more advanced than Iran's, but both countries' bio-programs have benefited from former Soviet labs and more recently from North Korea. And Iran has a very advanced bio program, which is highly imbedded in their pharmaceutical industry."

She adds, "However, both chem and bio have been almost ignored or eclipsed by the focus on nuclear weapons." And Iran might well-employ chemical, biological, or conventionally armed missiles just as fast as – perhaps faster than – any acquired nukes.

Though Iran is working against the clock to become a nuclear state and to simultaneously achieve a measure of ballistic-missile respectability in the Eastern Hemisphere, its latest missile exercise may be less of a test of system-functionality and more of a show-of-force. And in the latter, Iran has certainly inflamed already-high tension: Not so much in terms of its still-questionable strategic-military capabilities, but as another message to the West that Iran's threats against Israel and the United States are not hollow.

Lt. Gen. Thomas G. McInerney (U.S. Air Force, ret.), former assistant vice chief of staff of the Air Force and current IPC advisory council chairman, proposes a reciprocal message: "We should immediately deploy F-22s [America's brand-new air-supremacy fighter] to the region to send a very strong signal that we too mean business!"

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W. Thomas Smith Jr. is a military analyst, columnist, and a former U.S. Marine infantryman and counterterrorism instructor. He has covered conflict in the Balkans, on the West Bank, in Iraq, and Lebanon. Visit him online at http://www.uswriter.com.

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F-22 Farnborough Flight Demo by Lockheed Martin Videos - July 14, 2008
The Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor air dominance fighter showcased its unique capability performing aerodynamic maneuvers during the opening day at the 2008 Farnborough Air Show.
July 14, 2008

 


F-22 Raptor at Farnborough Airshow 2008 - July 14, 2008

 

 

This is a behind-the-scenes video of the first full-up F-22A Raptor demo performed by Maj. Paul "Max" Moga at Langley Air Force Base, VA, on April 25th, 2007. This was the certification flight for the flight profile. Included is the first HUD video of an F-22A ever shown to the public! Credit goes to Lockheed Martin and AirShowBuzz for this amazing video!!!

 


1st Tac Fighter Wing
East Coast F-22 Demonstration Team Pilot Major Paul "MAX" Moga
Describes the F-22

 


Airshow Demo at 1st Tac Fighter Wing

 


F-22 Raptor Airshow Demo Debut at Langley AFB, VA

 


F-22 Supermanouverability

 

 

F-22 Raptor Airshow Demo Debut at Langley AFB, VA
Major Max Moga Describes

 


F-22 Air Show Demo
Highlights of the demo flight of the F-22 Raptor at the "Air Power Over Hampton Roads" air show at Langley AFB, Virginia, April 27-29, 2007. The pilot is Maj. Paul "Max" Moga. The flight demonstrates some of the maneuvering capabilities of the F-22 Raptor. Video produced by Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, Fort Worth, TX.



Last Updated ( Tuesday, 15 July 2008 )
 
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