The announcement was the latest in a chain of advancements Iran has claimed in its missile technology in defiance of Western criticism and amid regional tensions.
Iran’s defense minister said his country has developed “ramjet” engines, the key component to supersonic cruise missiles.
Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Ashtiani told a crowd of worshipers in Tehran on Friday that the Iranian defense ministry is now capable of mass producing the engine, which can boost a cruise missile’s speed to five times the sound of speed.
The development, according to the Iranian general, was accomplished using domestic capabilities and came less than a fortnight after the Islamic Republic said it had acquired the know-how to produce supersonic missiles, introducing its first homemade version, dubbed “Fattah.”
The ramjet engine technology could now place Iran on the path to being a mass producer of cruise missiles, according to Tasnim news agency, which is run by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Tasnim also highlighted how those Iranian missiles will be “extremely difficult” to intercept thanks to the indigenous ramjets.
Over the past few months, Iran has been unveiling one long-range missile after another in what appears to be a message of defiance to its foes. Criticism over the controversial program has come mainly from major powers, Israel and regional Arab states, as they consider Iran’s missile program a threat to regional and global security. Tehran says in counterargument that its missile activities are solely for “deterrence.”
The Islamic Republic’s defense industry, Ashtiani said, is relying on a massive network of some 6,500 Iranian entities, including research centers, universities and knowledge-based firms which constantly contribute to the country’s military advancements.
The minister further announced in his speech that the production of solid-fuel Iranian ballistic missiles as well as the production of cruise missiles “have doubled in recent years.” In the field of missile air defence systems, he boasted a 45% growth.
The hard-line general said the number of Iranian speedboats has also gone up by one third in recent years. Those vessels are in wide service of IRGC marines in the Persian Gulf and the Strategic Strait of Hormuz. Using them, IRGC forces have been seen increasingly “harassing” international commercial vessels and oil tankers, at times forcing them to redirect their paths before fully seizing them.
The practice has laid the ground for potentially heightened tensions between Iranian and American forces. The United States sent reinforcements to the waters in July, including marines, F-15s and the USS Thomas Hudner destroyer to curtail the IRGC forces, who have said they will not be intimidated by the deployment as they are “the leading regional power.”