Iran in mass production of long-range, solid-fuel Sejil surface missiles
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.
debkafile‘s military sources add that Iran is going all out to fill its arsenal with Sejil II missiles for outwitting Israel’s Arrow interceptors if and when they attack Israel. Western missile experts calculate that if Iran lets loose against Israel a simultaneous barrage of dozens of Shehab-3 and a handful of Sejil II, the Arrow will only intercept some of them; the rest will reach their targets.
Iran’s arms industry is driving forward at top speed to attain this capability. Israel has entered the arms race by stepping up production of the Arrow anti-missile systems.
At some point, Israel strategists had hoped the surge of unrest in Tehran sparked by the disputed June 12 presidential election would result in the regime pulling funds out of nuclear and missile industries and investing in projects for improving the lives of the disaffected populace. But the challenge to its authority has had the opposite effect. The Islamic rulers have opted for speeding up weapons production and maximizing their tools of war rather than home benefits.