During Army Day celebrations in April 2018 Iran’s Armed Forces revealed two new missile platforms designed to modernise the country’s air defence and strike capabilities. The development and commissioning of new missile systems comes as part of the country’s longstanding effort to develop effective asymmetric warfare systems to counter threats from the far larger military forces of its potential adversaries - including Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United States and a number of Arab and European states. Iran’s missile program has been heavily assisted by North Korean specialists, with Pyongyang lending a great deal of support to Tehran since the early 1980s when the two first formed diplomatic relations. Alongside the development of an advanced ballistic missile program, which has recently given Iran’s forces the ability to strike targets across the Middle East and Much of East Africa and Central Asia with highly mobile platforms, Tehran has also sought to development of cruise missiles for precision strikes and surface to air missiles for air defence.
Iran unveiled the Kamin-2 as a new surface to air missile designed specifically to engage low altitude threats such as attack aircraft, UAV’s and helicopters. With a number of high altitude long range surface to air missile systems such as the indigenous Bavar-373, Soviet S-200 and Russian S-300 already in service, such low altitude capabilities are key to cementing the country’s multi layered air defence network. Iran has notably based its anti aircraft missiles heavily on U.S. systems such as the MIM-23 Hawk and AIM-54 Phoenix acquired in the 1970s, improving on their capabilities to develop sophisticated modern platforms.
Alongside the new air defence platform, Tehran also unveiled an air launched cruise missile marked with initials of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force. The unnamed platform featured trapezoidal grid fins, a feature commonly associated with U.S. missiles, and a seeker in its tip. A sign accompanying the missile further stated that it was electro optically guided with a range of up 100 km. Iran is currently developing a light stealth fighter, the Qaher-313, and has already developed an indigenous third generation light multirole fighter, the Saeqeh, which could both potentially make use of the missile in a strike role. Iran has also recently developed a number of stealth drones, some of which have reportedly been deployed to Syria, and while their purpose has as of yet been restricted to reconnaissance, attack variants modified to deploy cruise missiles could well be developed in future.
Upon the unveiling of the new weapons systems, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the country would “produce or acquire any weapons we need” despite disapproval and pressure from the Western bloc to limit the development of its missile program. Iranian ballistic missiles were also on display in the parade. Rouhani further sought to assure the country’s Middle Eastern neighbours, in order to prevent the escalation of a regional arms race, that “our weapons are not against you, it’s for deterrence.” The President stated in a thinly veiled reference to the Western bloc: “we are not living in a normal region, and we see invading powers have built bases around us.” The statement notably came just days after Britain’s Royal Navy commissioned a new facility in Bahrain, just across the Persian Gulf from Iran, which was capable of housing hundreds of personnel as well as servicing the country’s aircraft carriers.