Reflections on a House Divided

Reassurance with a chilling edge:
More on Iran's "New" Missiles

The 4th April edition of ThreatsWatch  reported that, as of that date, the Department of Defence had announced that NORAD had - indeed - detected the recent Iranian ballistic missile test. But, that instead of revealing some new and advanced missile, clearly exhibiting leading-edge technology, the actual missile was one of a standard "work-horse" variety - i.e. the Shahab-2, which is the Iranian designation for the venerable Russian Scud-C. However, in a separate report, there was one vital caveat to the Pentagon's otherwise reassuring assessment. The official spokesman was quoted there as observing that "It is possible they [Iran] are increasing their capabilities and making strides in radar-absorbing material and targeting. However, the Iranians have been known to boast and exaggerate their statements about greater technical and tactical capabilities."

The abovementioned statement echoed concerns expressed in the ThreatsWatch article already cited, another cited in an earlier posting on this site, and that posting itself - Able to leap tall buildings.... . Which said concerns centred on the dangers that possession of advanced "stealth" - i.e. "radar-absorbing" or "radar-avoidance," technologies by Iran may pose. Said circumstance may very well allow Iran to defeat the current generation of anti-missile defence technology employed by the US, Israel and their strategic partners. And, may also indicate a dangerous level of irrationality affecting the process by which strategic decisions made by the current Russian Government are arrived at. Fore Russia is the most likely source of advanced materials and techniques currently obtained by Iran - and Russia has been battling elements of the Islamist Movement in and on the boarders of Her own South Central Provinces for many years. And, due to that experience, it should be clear enough to any child that the Russians themselves may very well become targets of those very weapons eventually.

It is also evident that the aforesaid dangers are likely independent of the question of whether Iran has currently absorbed the techniques required to produce such weapons on their own, or is simply in possession of systems supplied by their partners along with the knowledge necessary to use and maintain them. That is because in the latter case - given the level of technical knowledge and skill available to them - it only then becomes a matter of time before Iran would also possess the capacity to produce the required materials and design modifications, and then apply those adaptations to their exiting arsenal of strategic missiles.

It is to be expected that - in spite of the qualification made by the Pentagon's spokesman concerning the propensity of Iran's Officials to " boast and exaggerate their statements about greater technical and tactical capabilities. there must be some reasons besides Iran's official pronouncements for the American Defence establishment to give the possibility of said capacities some credence. The question then becomes one concerning the nature and severity of the current threat. If, as implied in the DOD statement, the capabilities which Iran's weapons might possess in that area are limited to those pertaining to "radar-absorbing material" alone - the implicit risks are moderate - for the time being, as - with existing techniques - the results that can be obtained through those means are beneath the capability of stealth systems currently employed by advanced military forces. That is a result of the fact that much of current stealth technology is based on the way in which a vehicle's surfaces are configured. And, a Scud type missile reconfigured in a way consistent with such techniques would be a different and noticeable beast indeed.  However, there is one very grave possibility that would also likely be consistent with the report of a standard missile of the Scud-C configuration. The Russians have been reported to have developed a form of radar-defeating technology that relies on Plasma Screen Technology. And, it is also suggested in the same report that the equipment required to implement that system can be installed on almost any vehicle - newly made or antiquated - with little effect on its outwards appearance. If it is a system of that kind that Iran's military was referring to, that is troubling news indeed. Fore that would mean both that Iran had possession of the very leading elements of advanced missile-defence defeating technology, and that the Russian leadership was indeed sufficiently suicidal or fantasy-smitten to give it to them.


What is the basis of stealth technology in the F-117 Nighthawk?
MILNET: What Is Stealth?

Iran Might Have New 'Missile-Torpedo,' DoD Official Says
Pentagon: Iran Missile Advances Possible
Russia Develops Stealth Aircraft Using Plasma Screen Technology

(C) David Aronin 2006