Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on Thursday issued a surprising statement claiming that it has developed a hypersonic missile "capable of penetrating all defense systems," according to the words of the commander of the IRGC aerospace unit overseeing the project.
General Amirali Hajizadeh claimed in the statement cited in state-run Fars news agency, "This hypersonic ballistic missile was developed to counter air defense shields." Hypersonic missiles can reach more than five times the speed of sound, and very few countries in the world possess the capability. Iran is now for the first time claiming to be among them.
"It will be able to breach all the systems of anti-missile defense," said the general, stressing that no anti-air system has yet been developed by any foreign nation which is capable of intercepting them. "This missile, which targets enemy anti-missile systems, represents a great generational leap in the field of missiles," the IRGC commander added.
Israel, the US, and the West more broadly is sure to take this as a shocking and dangerous development if confirmed, given already there's been years of scrutiny placed on Tehran's nuclear and ballistic missiles programs, amid ongoing threats to Israel especially.
The only three countries in the world believed to possess hypersonics include the United States, Russia, and China. It remains Russia that is likely most out front in testing its hypersonic arsenal, having touted multiple successful launches and even limited deployment on the Ukrainian battlefield.
North Korea last year also claimed to have tested a hypersonic missile, though there was little in the way of verification as to how far along its program really is. Some Western analysts think Pyongyang was bluffing, and this could be the current case with Iran as well.
While there remains cause for skepticism over the new hypersonics claim, in recent years Western defense officials have consistently underestimated Iran's defense technology sector and capabilities...
The commander of the IRGC Aerospace Force has announced— Seyed Mohammad Marandi (@s_m_marandi) November 10, 2022
Iran has developed hypersonic ballistic missiles that can't be countered by any missile defense system.
Remember how in the past western media & elites would sneer and claim Iranian military achievements were photoshopped? pic.twitter.com/MOuFHVpsJr
Iran has within the last year launched ballistic missiles on neighboring Iraq, targeting what it called terrorist militia groups seeking to undermine the state, which had camps hosted in Kurdish areas. Washington has also accused Iran of launching attacks via proxies on Saudi Arabia and the UAE, specifically out of Yemen. "These attacks are a reminder that Iran's development and proliferation of ballistic missiles pose a serious threat to regional and international security," the US government said at the time.
More recently there have been rumors that Iran is supplying ballistic missiles to Russia alongside drones for use in Ukraine. Tehran has vehemently denied it is giving missiles to Moscow, but has just this month belatedly admitted to supplying drones.
As for this new claim to possess hypersonic projectiles, if Israel sees any validity in it, Israeli forces could potentially see reason enough to launch preemptive strikes on the Islamic Republic's missile manufacturing facilities. However, Iran has long tried to conceal aspects of its long-range missile program in deep underground bunkers.