Iran announced on Wednesday that it has achieved the ability to produce supersonic cruise missiles, a potentially significant military achievement at a time of heightened tensions with the United States.
Iranian military scientists said they gained the “technical know-how” to manufacture cruise missiles that can travel at supersonic speeds and that the homegrown missile is currently in the testing stage. The development will “open a new chapter in Iran’s defense technologies,” the semi-official Tasnim News Agency reported.
Tasnim is affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
What it means: Cruise missiles are powered by jet engines, in contrast with ballistic missiles, which are fired from rockets but then fly unpowered through the air. Supersonic missiles are capable of traveling at one to five times the speed of sound.
Why it matters: Supersonic cruise missiles are relatively difficult to intercept and could boost Iran’s military might.
The announcement comes at a time heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington. Earlier this week, the United States deployed 3,000 troops to the Suez Canal in response to Iranian attempts to seize commercial tankers in the Persian Gulf.
Also this week, US CENTCOM commander Gen. Michael Kurilla traveled to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to discuss regional issues with leaders in both countries.
Know more: Iran also announced in June that it developed a hypersonic ballistic missile known as Fattah. A report from the DC-based Stimson Center said there are “reasonable doubts” as to whether the Islamic Republic actually has such technology.