Iran has reportedly test fired a ballistic missile during naval drills conducted earlier this month – the first time Iran has done so in 2018, believed to be aimed at sending a message as the United States reimposes sanctions on Tehran.
According to Fox News, a Fateh-110 short-range ballistic missile was fired during large-scale naval exercises by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard forces late last week, which involved more than 50 small gunboats in the Strait of Hormuz – the waterway between Iran and a Omani exclave – to rehearse ‘swarm’ tactics, which could one day potentially shut down the waterway through which 30 percent of the world’s oil passes each year. Fox News cited information from an American surveillance satellite and an unnamed U.S. official.
The anti-ship Fateh-110 Mod 3 was reported to have flown over 100 miles on a flight path over the Strait of Hormuz to a test range in the Iranian desert. The launch is Iran's first since March of 2017. Iranian officials and domestic media have not confirmed the test launch.
Iran’s military exercises in the Gulf come at a time of increased tension between it and the United States.
Exercises began on August 2, with the aim of controlling and ensuring the security of international maritime routes within the framework of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) scheduled routine drills, according to head of the IRGC Public Relations Department General Ramezan Sharif.
Meanwhile on August 13 Iran's Fateh-e Mobin missile, equipped with an advanced ‘smart warhead’ was inaugurated, with the Minister of Defense, Brigadier-General Amir Hatami, present.
Fateh-e Mobin is a 100 percent domestically produced stealth precision missile that can be used during the day and at night. It can detect the enemy on land and sea, and can pass through anti-missile systems undetected.
The new missile’s range has not been disclosed, but previous versions have a range of around 200 to 300 kilometers (125-185 miles), according to the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Iran’s ballistic missile program was not included in the 2015 nuclear deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which has been a source of concern for the U.S. and its allies. UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorsed the deal, called on Iran to refrain from ballistic missile testing only on systems “designed to be capable” of delivering nuclear weapons.
In May 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump announced the U.S.’ withdrawal from the nuclear deal and threatened Iran with tough economic sanctions, which are expected to go into full effect sometime in November. The Trump administration is aiming to tie a new nuclear agreement to limits on Iran's ballistic missile program and its role in regional conflicts in the Middle East.
Earlier Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had threatened to shut down the Strait of Hormuz, the world's busiest sea lane for oil exports, if the United States goes through with the oil-related sanctions.
"The Strait of Hormuz is the world's most important oil chokepoint because its daily oil flow of about 17 million barrels per day in 2015 accounted for 30 percent of all seaborne-traded crude oil and other liquids,” reads the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s 2017 World Oil Transit Chokepoints report. “The volume that traveled through this vital choke point increased to 18.5 million b/d in 2016.”
Meanwhile, a military expert from the public relations department of Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), who wanted to remain anonymous, unveiled the details of Iran's air-launched cruise missiles with a range of 1,500 kilometers, which are planned to be mounted on Sukhoi-22 warplanes. The plan to use cruise missiles mountable on Sukhoi-22 was first raised in Shiraz air base, at the same time as the unveiling of 10 overhauled and modernized Su-22 (Sukhoi) warplanes by the Aerospace Forces of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, on July 25.
The military expert said the missiles are launched by a booster and primary propulsion system, and then continue their flightpath following their second engines, which are usually a jet type. The cruise missiles are manufactured on the basis of land-launched cruise missiles and are designed for predetermined targets navigation is based on Ins, GPS, Glonass, Terom and DSMAC.
Iran’s air force is suffering from a lack of modern warplanes because of sanctions. It is actively working to maintain and upgrade old jets.