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How IRGC’s Buried Ballistic Missiles Tear Up Ground to Become Iran’s New Surprise Weapon

The Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz were the scene to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Great Prophet 14 wargames last week during which ballistic missiles buried deep into the ground were fired to surprise world weapons manufacturers.

In these exercises, in addition to various international dimensions and special messages for foreigners, specially trans-regional enemies who have been illegally deployed in the Persian Gulf region for many years, new defense achievements were demonstrated, specially in area Iran’s missile technology. Meantime, significant increase in the level of new defense technologies and weapons was also put on display.

Among these achievements was the very high velocity feature of anti-radar ballistic missiles – much faster than previously seen – which makes it impossible to intercept and target ballistic missiles by any defense shield. These missiles had already been unveiled, though.

But the most important and unique defense achievement displayed in these drills, which astonished many experts and international observers, was the firing of ballistic missiles planted, or still better to say buried, deep into the ground. This technology is unique, under Iranian monopoly, and is completely different from earlier versions of underground ballistic missiles which are fired from underground silos and are owned by a few countries in the world. In other words, the new capsuled ballistic missile is unrivaled in technology and uniquely owned by Iran.

In addition to underground missile towns and mobile launchers, this was the IRGC’s third tactical move to confuse enemy reconnaissance aircraft; the first two tactics made it hard for enemy aircraft to site and target missile platforms and launchers, but this new weapon system disarms enemy as it is buried and impossible to trace by enemy aircraft.

During the Great Prophet 14 drills, the IRGC Aerospace Force demonstrated another achievement that is unparalleled in the world. Missiles buried into the ground were fired at once with no need to platforms or launchers.

Of course, studies showed that the US in the 1980s had a conceptual plan to fire the LGM-118 Continental Ballistic Missile named Peacekeeper from underground with a different mechanism but the conceptual design that was totally different from IRGC’s system never came in practice. As seen in the picture below, the LGM-118 and its launcher were designed to be hidden in camoflague few a centimeters-tick layer of soil and once the command unit would decide to fire it, it took some time for the launch and missile system to get ready, giving enemy aircraft or forces a chance to site the system, although even this conceptual design never came into effect, it still is completely different from the technology and features of the new Iranian buried ballistice missile.

How Are IRGC’s Buried Missiles Fired from Their Resting Place Deep into The Ground?

An analysis of images and videos released of this crucially important achievement show the ballistic missile is placed inside a capsule or vertical launch canister (VLC) which is planted into a hole dug into the ground and then covered with soil, or simply said, buried.

The technology of making capsules for vertically launched missiles, which is available in both hot and cold launch types in the world, is one of the complex areas of hi-tech, specially in the hot launch type, because the capsule or chamber in which the missile is placed must be capable of tolerating the very high temperatures resulting from the combustion of fuel by the missile fire engine in the initial moments of launch.

The IRGC missiles displayed during the recent drills use the vertical hot-launch system, because in the first seconds of firing, the gas and fire resulted from the combustion of fuel remove the soil from the upper discharge valves and open a hole for the missile to fly out. Yet, as shown in the footage of the drills, all this mechanism works in less than a second from the time of activation to the launch of the missile.

There is no information on the type of the missiles fired from inside these capsules, as IRGC Aerospace Force has kept the identity and features of these missile highly confidential, but a review of the video released from the moment these missiles were fired in the recent drills shows that at least two types of missiles with solid fuel have been launched.

One of the missiles has no wings and the other missile has wings on its warhead to increase its precision-striking power; the use of wings in the warhead of one of the missiles fired as well as its solid fuel reinforces the speculation that it has been from the Fateh class.

Also, given the launch of two types of missiles from under surface, it can be strongly speculated that most missiles which are fired obliquely or even vertical launch missiles can be fired with this new technology.

Another point that can be understood from the released video is that these missiles have a thrust vector change (TVC) system, which can be seen in their firing profile due to the changing trajectory of the rocket compared to the initial firing angle. Such a control system is an indispensible part of these missiles, because missiles fired from VLS launchers must use such a control method to guide it towards the target.

Meantime, using thrust vector control system in Iranian missiles is not unprecedented. The system has, for instance, been used in Qiam ballistic missile which has no wing to guide and correct its trajectory. Qiam uses 4 Jet Vanes in the nozzle of gases which are exhausted from the missile and changing the thrust vector of the exhausted gases guides the missile and corrects its path. Also, in Sayad-4 defensive missile used in Bavar-373 defense system, because the missile operates in a hot vertical launch system, the thrust vector change control has been used.

As a matter of fact, the Iranian missile experts have managed to pose a big challenge to enemy intelligence services and air reconnaissance by combining several special technologies. Because they were so far able to detect the location of ballistic missiles launchers, platforms or bases, underground missile towns or missile centers by monitoring satellite images and monitoring the movement of missiles and their launchers, but from now on they will not be able to detect Iran’s missile depots and fire platforms as this type of planted or buried missiles stay fully hidden in camouflage deep into the ground and, hence, leave not even the slightest chance for any enemy to trace and find them.

“Given the high durability of solid fuel missiles, which can stay in operation for up to 15 years, IRGC’s buried ballistic missile farms could grow anywhere, and this will change the battle scene in favor of Iran in the entire region in future as these missiles could be planted even behind enemy missile defense shields, like the iron dom,” Senior Analyst Seyed Mostafa Khoshcheshm said.

Last Wednesday, Commander of the IRGC’s Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said that Iran is the first country in the world that has fired camouflaged ballistic missiles buried deep into the ground during the military drills.

“It was the first time in the world that ballistic missiles were fired from beneath soil,” General Hajizadeh told reporters on the sidelines of the second day of massive ‘Great Prophet-14’ drills in the Southern parts of the country.

He added that the missiles were launched without using platforms and equipment, noting that the hidden missiles tear up the ground from where they are buried, fly and hit the target.

The IRGC fired ballistic missiles buried deep into the ground during the second day of massive ‘Great Prophet-14’ drills in the Southern parts of the country on Wednesday.

Also, in the final stage of the IRGC drills, which took place in the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, the IRGC Aerospace Force drones attacked enemy’s mock aircraft carrier and targeted its command tower and bridge.

Also, the IRGC’s Sukhoi-22 fighters bombed and destroyed pre-determined targets in Farour Islands with winged bombs.

Destroying hypothetical enemy targets designed much smaller than the actual size with a variety of smart bombs was another part of this phase of the exercises.

The IRGC Aerospace and Naval Forces’ joint exercises were an important part of the drills and demonstrated surprising tactics, including establishment of the two forces’ joint command systems, joint control, combined tactics and combat methods.

Successful missile combat operations were carried out by firing two surface-to-surface Hurmoz and Fateh missiles, and a ballistic missile at specific targets, as well as launching precision-striking air defense missiles.

Also, Shahed 181, Mohajer and Bavar drones successfully attacked and destroyed hypothetical enemy targets and positions at this stage of the drills.

Meantime, surface-to-surface missile operations, coast-to-sea operations, heavy artillery firing and offensive mine-laying operations to cut off enemy lines were demonstrated on the second day of the massive wargames.

Also, firing of all kinds of artillery, RPGs and light weapons by combat forces in line and around Iranian islands was part of the drills to reportedly show the firm determination of the border guards in defending the country.

The IRGC announced in a statement last Tuesday that it has started the final phase of the ‘Great Prophet-14’ drills in the South of the country, and added that Nour-1 Satellite, that was launched on April 22, was used to monitor the wargames.

The drills were held with the participation of the IRGC Navy and Aerospace forces in the Hormozgan province and extend to the depth of the Iranian soil.

IRGC Navy’s missile, ship, and drone units as well as IRGC Aerospace’s missile, drone, and radar units are due to conduct operational drills in the wargames, the statement said. 

The wargames were monitored for the first time by the Nour-1 Satellite that was launched successfully on April 22.

The IRGC launched the satellite aboard Qassed (Carrier) satellite carrier during an operation that was staged in Dasht-e Kavir, Iran’s sprawling Central desert. The Launcher Qassed is a three-stage launcher using compound solid-liquid fuel.

The satellite was placed into the orbit 425km above Earth’s surface.

The satellite was sent to the space on the anniversary of the IRGC establishment (April 22, 1979).

Great Prophet (Payambar-e Azam) wargames are annual missile tests and exercises conducted by Iran’s IRGC. The first series of the wargames began in July 2008.

In recent years, Iran has made great achievements in its defense sector and attained self-sufficiency in producing essential military equipment and systems.

The Iranian Armed Forces several times a year test their preparedness and capabilities as well as newly-manufactured weapons systems in different wargames.

Iranian Armed Forces recently test-fire different types of newly-developed missiles and torpedoes and tested a large number of home-made weapons, tools and equipment, including submarines, military ships, artillery, choppers, aircrafts, UAVs and air defense and electronic systems, during massive military drills.

Iranian officials have always stressed that the country’s military and arms programs serve defensive purposes.

Defense analysts and military observers say that Iran’s wargames and its advancements in weapons production have proved as a deterrent factor.

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