Iran has demonstrated its capability to launch a massive missile strike in the Gulf.
Western intelligence sources said the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps succeeded in a test that concentrated massive missile and rocket fire in one area. They said the IRGC launched hundreds of missiles and rockets by remote control toward simulated targets in the Gulf.
“They fired and fired and there were no duds or mishaps,” an intelligence source said. “It was a very impressive display of firepower.”
[On Saturday, Iran announced the testing of anti-tank, anti-helicopter and anti-personnel weapons. Officials said the capability of the anti-helicopter weapons was enhanced by 100 percent in recent years.]
On November 2, Iran began firing Shihab-3 and Shihab-2 ballistic missiles as well as medium-range rockets at the start of the “Great Prophet” exercise.
The sources said Great Prophet, held in 10 Iranian provinces, was said to have resembled the North Korean exercise in July 2006. At the time, Pyongyang fired a range of intermediate-, medium and short-range missiles into the Japan Sea in what was later deemed a test of North Korea’s command and control system.
“The Iranian firing was on a much larger scale [than the North Korean test] and it proved the seamless ability to coordinate the launches of a range of missile and rockets,” the source said.
The Shihab-3 contains a range of 2,000 kilometers and Iran said the missile reached that distance during Great Prophet. Iran was also developing missiles with ranges of up to 5,500 kilometers.
The sources said the Shihab-3s, fired as part of a mock offensive in neighboring Iraq and Saudi Arabia, contained separating warheads. They said the multiple reentry vehicles were not guided.
On November 2, Russian Chief of Staff Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky played down Iranian missile capabilities. Baluyevsky said Iran does not have the technology required to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles, with a range of more than 5,000 kilometers.
“According to our information, today Iran has no technological or technical capabilities to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile,” Baluyevsky said.
However, Western sources said Iran was developing what they termed asymmetrical warfare skills meant to overcome U.S. defenses. They said Great Prophet included the use of a swarm of unmanned aerial vehicles to attack U.S. warships. They said the UAV payloads could contain either conventional explosives or nerve gas.
“The United States has been very concerned over the Iranian use of both swarm speedboats and UAVs,” another source said. “The U.S. Navy has determined this a leading threat in the Gulf and wants to develop counter-measures.”