Tags: Iran | Launch | 'Space | Probe' | (Read: | Missile | Test)

Iran to Launch 'Space Probe' (Read: Missile Test)

Wednesday, 15 December 2004 12:00 AM

The Iranian government has announced that it will launch the first satellite in early March or April 2005.

"The satellite will prove the capacity of the Islamic Republic in space technology," stated Iran's deputy defense minister, Nasser Maliki.

The first Iranian satellite will be a simple 44-pound "Safir" or "Emissary," carrying a small transmitter to confirm that it achieved orbit. The Safir satellite will be launched into space on top of the recently improved "Shahab-3" missile, an Iranian copy of the North Korean No-Dong missile.

The upgraded Shahab-3 has been flight-tested four times by the Iranian missile forces between July and October 2004. The U.S. Air Force Defense Support Program (DSP) missile warning satellite and the USAF Cobra Ball surveillance aircraft monitored the flight tests. In addition, Israeli surveillance aircraft also closely monitored the Iranian launches.

The improved Shahab-3 missile flew at ranges of 930 to 1,240 miles and demonstrated accuracy never seen before by the No-Dong class of missile. The improved Shahab-3 is nearly 60 feet long and reportedly carries 15 percent more propellant than the standard North Korean design.

The new Iranian warhead design is considered nuclear capable, enabling the Shahab-3 missile to carrying atomic bombs that can fuse during re-entry and air-burst at accurate altitudes above their intended targets.

The Iranian missile has also been improved with what appears to be advanced Chinese nose cone and re-entry vehicle designs. The Shahab-3 now sports a bulbous nose cone system and the flight tests indicated that the simulated warhead carried advanced navigation avionics and re-entry control systems for improved accuracy.

Iran also recently announced a joint space venture with China. Iran plans to develop a small satellite for land surveillance that will be launched into space by a Chinese rocket. The satellite is most likely a commercial platform for what will eventually become Iranian spy satellites.

The joint Iranian-Chinese venture is also considered part of the "Trojan Horse" plan to disguise military space and missile development activities under a so-called civilian space program.

The Bush administration has imposed sanctions against several Chinese companies that are reportedly involved in the upgrade of the Iranian Shahab-3 missile. The Chinese firms are accused of providing the avionics and re-entry control packages now in place on the improved Iranian missile.

U.S. intelligence sources indicate that the Chinese space navigation and control systems sold to Iran are modifications of American space technology provided to China by the Clinton administration.

During the Clinton years, Hughes sold advanced nose cone design software to the Chinese army that greatly improved Beijing's long-range missile accuracy and capability.

In addition, Loral sold advanced space navigation and radiation-hardened electronic design and manufacturing technology to the Chinese military. Finally, Lockheed sold "post boost vehicle" space control systems for a contract under the Motorola Iridium project.

All of these technologies are now playing a key role in improving the Iranian missile development by being re-exported from China to Tehran.

In response to the Iranian missile developments, Israel is considering upgrades to its Arrow missile defense system. The Iranian Shahab-3 missile already targets Israel but questions remain about whether the Arrow defense system could intercept a Shahab warhead in flight.

The Shahab-3 simulated warheads observed during the recent series of tests were able to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere at high angles and speeds. The Arrow was designed to protect Israel from threats such as the improved Scud-C missiles fielded by Iraq.

However, the Scud missiles do not carry detachable warheads and fly as a complete system to their intended targets. Scud missiles also have a much slower speed and lower re-entry angle than the longer-ranging Shahab-3 threat.

The U.S. has also responded to the Iranian threat by accelerating its missile defense program. Current plans are under way for missile interceptors to be based at Ft. Greeley, Alaska, and at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

However, the Iranian missile threat may force the Bush administration to consider basing interceptors on the U.S. East Coast for the first time since the Cold War ended. Several sites along the coast are under consideration, including Virginia's Wallops Island, which could protect the mid-Atlantic coast.

The Bush administration is also considering a new offensive weapon to counter the growing missile threat from rogue states such as Iran and North Korea.

The Air Force is considering a modified U.S. ICBM missile with a conventional or even "block of concrete" warhead that can accurately strike targets anywhere on the globe within minutes.

The new system would use former nuclear-tipped ICBM missiles armed with highly accurate maneuvering conventional warheads. The missiles would be able to take out mobile missile targets such as the Iranian Shahab, the North Korean No-Dong, the Chinese DF-31 and Russian SS-27 Topol-M.

The system would be replaced later during the 2020 time frame by an air-breathing hypersonic vehicle that could carry scores of independently targeted weapons to near space for fast delivery around the world. The space bomber concept is planned to operate at several hundred thousand feet at speeds in excess of Mach 10. The spacecraft would be capable of operating from normal 16,000-foot runways, fly on a missile and land like a conventional aircraft. The intent is to be able to strike any target within an hour of take-off.

Charles Smith will be on:

The Jerry Hughes Show on Friday, 12/17/4, at 3 p.m. Eastern time. Show information at http://www.cilamerica.com.

The Charlie Smith Show on the American Freedom Network on Monday, 12/20/4, at 11 a.m. Eastern time. Show information at http://www.americanewsnet.com

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The Iranian government has announced that it will launch the first satellite in early March or April 2005. "The satellite will prove the capacity of the Islamic Republic in space technology," stated Iran's deputy defense minister, Nasser Maliki. The first Iranian...
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Wednesday, 15 December 2004 12:00 AM
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