Iran nears ICBM capability with recent satellite launch

By Arie Egozi

Iran is approaching the capability of launching intercontinental ballistic missiles. This is according to an analysis of the recent launch of this country's spy satellite.


According to this analysis, Iran will very soon be capable of launching an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) that can reach the U.S., carrying a warhead weighing hundreds of kg. The analysis was written by Tal Inbar, an Israeli senior defence analyst.

The satellite was launched on January 20. The launcher put ‘Suraya,’ a ~50 kg satellite, into a LEO of 750 km perigee and an inclination of 64.51°.


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Inbar points to the rear-stabilized small fins of the launcher that improve static stability during the 1st stage boost and probably – roll control.

According to the Israeli analyst, based on the available open-source information, the three-stage QAEM-100 launcher might serve as a prototype of an Iranian ICBM.

QAEM-100 is launched from a mobile launcher – TEL.

The missile configuration is a compact 3-stage missile.

Iran, according to Inbar, solved all separations and ignition phases.



“Modifying QAEM-100 into an ICBM will require some additional work: Development of an operational Reentry Vehicle (RV), a small 4th stage for precise energy maneuver, relying on GNSS data and/or a star tracker,”

According to Inbar, in the absence of dimensions or weight breakdown, experts can hardly perform any quantitative calculation or simulation.

The Iranians claim that they have achieved a 750 km orbit with a 50 kg (option for 80 kg) satellite.

“If this was done in a direct ascent method, then it might support assessments that a similar missile can carry an RV of about half a ton to intercontinental ranges.”


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