Iran claims the missile, which can travel five times the speed of sound, can evade and destroy air defense systems.

On Tuesday, Iran unveiled what authorities described as its first domestically-made hypersonic ballistic missile; the official IRNA news agency reported, an announcement likely to deepen Western concerns over Tehran’s missile capabilities.

Iranian state media released images of the missile, dubbed Fattah, or “Conqueror” in Farsi, at a ceremony attended by President Ebrahim Rahisi and commanders of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The precision-guided Fattah hypersonic missile has a range of 1,400 km and is capable of piercing all defense shields,” Amirali Hajizadeh, head of the Guardians’ aerospace force, said, according to Iranian state media.

Hypersonic missiles can fly at least five times faster than the speed of sound and follow a complex trajectory, making them difficult to intercept.

Last year, the Islamic Republic claimed to have built a hypersonic ballistic missile capable of maneuvering in and out of the atmosphere.

State television claimed that Iran’s Fattah missile could strike “the enemy’s advanced anti-missile systems and represents a great generational leap in the field of missiles” without providing evidence to support this claim. It can evade the most advanced US and Zionist regime anti-ballistic missile systems, including Israel’s Iron Dome,” Iranian state TV said.

Iran presents its first hypersonic missile, a challenge to Israel and the West

Fattah’s top speed reached Mach 14 levels (15,000 km/h), it added.

Flying at speeds greater than Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound, hypersonic weapons could pose crucial challenges to missile defense systems due to their speed and maneuverability.

Despite opposition from the United States and Europe, the Islamic Republic has stated that it will continue to develop its defensive missile program. However, Western military analysts say that Iran sometimes exaggerates its missile capabilities.

In November, General Amir Ali Hajizadeh of the Revolutionary Guards claimed that Iran had created a hypersonic missile without offering supporting evidence. Last month, Iran claimed it had successfully tested a ballistic missile with a potential range of 2,000km.

At the time, state television broadcast a few seconds of footage of what it said was the launch of an upgraded version of Iran’s Khoramshahr 4 ballistic missile, with a range of 2,000km and capable of carrying a 1,500kg warhead.

Iran presents its first hypersonic missile, a challenge to Israel and the West

Khorramshahr-4 is named after an Iranian city where heavy fighting occurred during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. Iraq seized the city, located in the oil-rich southwestern province of Khuzestan, at the beginning of the war, but Iran took it back more than a year later.

Iran, which has one of the largest missile programs in the Middle East, claims its weapons are capable of hitting the bases of arch-enemies Israel and the United States in the region. Concerns about Iran’s ballistic missiles contributed to then-US President Donald Trump’s decision in 2018 to ditch Tehran’s 2015 nuclear pact with six major powers.

Trump has reimposed US sanctions on Iran after pulling out of the nuclear pact, prompting Tehran to resume previously banned nuclear work and reviving US, European and Israeli fears that Iran may seek an atomic bomb. Iran has consistently denied any such ambition.

Indirect talks between Tehran and the administration of US President Joe Biden to save the nuclear deal have been stalled since last September.

Israel, which the Islamic Republic refuses to recognize, opposes efforts by world powers to revive the Tehran nuclear deal and has long threatened military action if diplomacy fails.

Like the United States, China is believed to be trying to get hold of the weapons. Russia claims it already has these weapons and has said it has used them on the battlefield in Ukraine.

Rachael Bunyan