Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) unveiled today the existence of a new tactical ballistic missile representing a generation leap in ballistic missile technology.
The 4th Generation Raad-500 (Thunder) introduces an improved aerodynamic design, composite casing rocket propulsion, and terminal precision capability recently demonstrated by Iran on its attack on the US Airbase of Al Assad in Iraq.
It shares the physical dimensions with the Fateh 110, but improves payload to weight ratio. The new missile weighs half the weight of the Fateh 110 (3320 kg) while extending the Fateh 110 range to 500 km (adding 200 km).
The missile used a separable maneuvering warhead that shapes the warhead stage trajectory after separation to improve impact accuracy.
The missile uses four canard fins placed at the main contributor to this improvement is Zohair, a new rocket engine made with carbon fibers composite rocket casing, designed to withstand pressures up to 100 bars at temperatures of 3,000 degrees (Celsius).
Until now rocket casing made of steel was used for this purpose. Tehran also unveiled a bigger rocket engine designed to propel satellites and missile’s upper stages in space.
This rocket engine also implements composite casing and thrust vectoring enabling a missile to shape its trajectory as it moves in space.
This capability is useful for placing satellites in orbit and improving the accuracy of reentry vehicles before entering the earth’s atmosphere.
Tehran wants to make more solid-fuel missiles for ground-to-ground engagements, as well as reduce costs and increase production using new complex methods, reports say.
Carbon fiber is interesting because a new process for making it was unveiled at the University of Alabama in 2016 for rocket nozzles.
The concept has received funding from the US Army’s Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center.A social-media account that follows Iranian technology, @AmirIGM, noted that “Fateh’s weight has been previously specific [sic] at 3,320 kg, so Raad 500 [Thunder 500] weights [sic] approximately 1,660 kg.
A remarkably low weight for a 500 km. range.” Iran has a whole series of missiles from the Sejil and Shahab-3 with 2,000-km. ranges, to the Fateh series and down to its Fajr missiles with a range of 50 km. The Sejil also uses solid fuel.
Iran uses the word Raad for an air-defense system as well as a self-propelled howitzer, making it unclear why they used it for this as well.
The Thunder rocket is getting press attention in Iran as part of the Islamic Republic’s plan to “get stronger to prevent a war,” ISNA news said. IRGC commander Hossein Salami emphasized Iran’s successes in a speech Sunday.
Iran seems to believe this new missile can avoid some radar detection due either to its signature or flight path.
The advances for this rocket, if they are accurate, are part of Iran’s plan for a new generation of rockets and missiles, according to Fars News.
Iran’s IRGC has fired rockets at Israel in the last two years from Syria, and Tehran is increasingly sending rocket technology to allies in the region.
It has also transferred ballistic missiles to Iraq.