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  • mghzhombre mghzhombre Jan 12, 2006 2:11 PM Flag

    UGLY! Why Does Iran Want Cruise Missile

    X-55
    The half-dozen missiles sold to China are consistent with a Chinese interest in reverse-engineering these weapons to provide technical input into China's ongoing efforts to develop long range cruise missiles. But Iran is not known to have a long range cruise missile development program, and the dozen missiles aquired by Iran suggest the possibility that Iran hoped to equip these missiles with nuclear warheads, once Iran completed its atomic weaponization program.
    Press reports noted that while Iran does not operate long-range bombers, it was believed that Tehran could adapt its Soviet-built Su-24 strike aircraft to launch the missile. But this totally misunderstands the multiple launch modes of this missile, which can also be launched from ships or from land based truck launchers. These later modes are certainly the ones relevant to Iran. The Soviet sea and ground launched versions of the missile had a small solid rocket motor that would boost the missile to cruising speed, and Iran would have to make some provisions to replicate this equipment. Such small motors would seem well within the reach of Iran's capability base.Long range cruise missiles tipped with atomic bombs would provide an attractive capability for attacking Israel.

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    • It may be imagined that an Iranian atomic bomb would be somewhat larger and heavier than the Soviet nuclear charge the missile was initially designed to carry, but no so much larger as to preclude installation in the missile's nose. Absent unavailable data on Iranian atomic bomb characteristics, some reduction in the Kh-55's 2,500-3,000 km range would be anticipated, but not so much as to preclude reaching Israel at a distance of less than 1,500 km.While Israel has invested considerable effort in developing the Arrow anti-missile system for countering Iran's ballistic missiles, Israeli capbilities to counter low-flying cruise missiles are less well developed. The X-55 cruise missile is much smaller than the Shehab 3, and consequently could be mounted on a much smaller launching truck, making it easier for the launcher garrison to evade detection.
      Unlike a ballistic missile, it is hard to detect a cruise missile when it is launched. The KH-55 flies at medium altitude for the first part of its flight. Cruise missiles can fly at low altitude and weave in between mountain ranges to minimise the risk of detection. They are much more difficult for SAMs and other air defences to track or attempt to engage. The only way to effectively deal with cruise missiles is to use AWACS to guide in fighters. Even then its hard for the fighters' AAMs to engage the missiles. Trying to intercept cruise missiles over land is a difficult challenge for the defending side.Basic computer maps used for navigation can be compiled from information bought from most countries with operational satellite systems. With the inflight navigation fixes periodically throughout its flight this would be good enough for a 1,500 km flight.

      • 1 Reply to mghzhombre
      • With a simple low powered altimeter radio system it could avoid the ground quite easily.With converted civilian planes, Iran could possibly launch these missiles from the middle of the Atlantic to hit the United States. This might require some fancy engineering on the part of Iran. The missiles could be mounted on launchers slung under the wings of a heavy cargo plane such as an IL-76, but Iran only has one such airplane in military service. Low-wing commercial aircraft would not provide sufficient ground clearance for such an installation. In principle commercial passenger aircraft could be modified with a bomb-bay, but the structural modifications required would be rather heroic.A more attractive alternative might consist of arming small ships with single cruise missiles. The modifications required to launch such a small missile would easily escape detection.Iran's merchant marine fleet is controlled by the state shipping company Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL). It serves now two container services from the port of Bender-e Abbas. One of them goes on a 30-day loop to East Asia, the other reaches Europe via the Suez in 22 days.In 2003 it was estimated that Iran's merchant marine consisted of 130 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 4,715,242 GRT / 8,240,069 DWT. This was composed of 40 bulk, 36 cargo, 3 chemical tankers, 7 container, 1 liquefied gas tanker, 5 multifunction large-load carrier, 33 petroleum tankers, 8 roll-on/roll-off cargo, 1 short-sea passenger, and 10 other ships registered in other countries.
        Iran's merchant marine fleet is doing relatively well, but the average age of 40% of its vessels is over 20 years, which makes it rather unfit for international competition. In October 2001 an agreement for manufacturing six ships was signed with Germany. The ships will be constructed with a total investment of $188 million in Bandar Abbas under German supervision.Iran Shipbuilding and Offshore Industries Complex [ISOICO] is a qualified Iranian company, active as shipbuilder and shiprepairer of different types of vessels and contractor of offshore structures. It operates from a production premises on the Persian Gulf (37 km west Bandar Abbas City), shipping to any location offshore or onshore.The activity of the Company started in the early 1990s as a workshop and a yard. The experience gained in this operation enabled the company to enlarge its sphere of activity to plants and mechanical plant components, then to multidisciplinary projects. Although the offshore experiences is short but ISOICO has played an important role in offshore market, constructing in its Bandar Abbas Yard.ISOICO shipyard is capable of constructing any type of vessel up to about 4 x 80,000 DWT per year on its existing building berths mainly bulk carrier, containership and oil product carrier using advance technology, which after accomplishing the development in process (i.e. two Dry Docks) the constructing capability will increase for the vessel up to about 2 x 300,000 DWT VLCC or 2 x 140,000 m3 LNG carrier per year in addition to the existing capacity.

 
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