Monday, July 13, 2009

Iran in mass production of long-range, solid-fuel Sejil surface missiles


DEBKAfile Exclusive Report | July 13, 2009, 9:29 AM (GMT+02:00)

Iran is slowing down the manufacture of the Shehab-3 surface missile in favor of mass production of the more accurate two-stage 2,000-kilometer range Sejil II ballistic missile powered with solid fuel, which was successfully tested on May 20, DEBKAfile's military and Iranian sources report.

More than 1,000 new Sejil IIs are projected to come off production lines in five years, at the rate of 200 a year.

Western sources say the Iranians are over-ambitious and can deliver no more than 10-15 missiles a year at present, although with a huge multi-billion dollar investment they might raise output to 30.

Liquid-fuel missiles like the Shehab take hours to prepare for firing, during which time they are exposed to oversight by US and Israel spy satellites, whereas the Sejil because it is powered by solid fuel has the huge advantage of stealth. It can only be detected by military satellites and early warning radar systems like the American FBX-T posted in the Israeli Negev after it is airborne and winging towards target.

Iran has also recruited Chinese missile experts to assist in the production of mobile launchers for the Sejil II. The combination of the solid-fuel Sejil mounted on mobile vehicles will give an Iranian missile attack the advantage of surprise, because of the difficulty of tracking and targeting them from space or the air.
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