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Iran Unveils Potent Khorramshahr-4 Medium-Range Ballistic Missile, Raising Regional Security Concerns

A few years ago, the Iranian industry developed and introduced the Khorramshahr medium-range ballistic missile. In the future, this product has undergone modernization.

The missile received a new control system and improved combat equipment. The resulting IRBM “Khorramshahr-4” or “Khaibar” was recently presented to the public and brought to the test.

Modern family

In early 2017, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps tested and introduced a new mobile complex with a medium-range ballistic missile. The product was named “Khorramshahr” – in honor of the city in the province of Khuzestan in western Iran, where fierce battles took place in 1982.

According to known data, the Khorramshahr IRBM successfully completed the tests, was adopted by the IRGC missile forces and entered mass production. In addition, at the same time, the development of a project for the modernization of the finished missile began, the purpose of which was to expand combat capabilities without a radical restructuring of the product.

At the end of May 2023, on the anniversary of the liberation of the city of Khorramshahr from Iraqi troops, the Iranian Ministry of Defense for the first time presented a modernized IRBM. This product was named “Khorramshahr-4” and “Khaibar”. They also showed photos and videos of a test launch at the test site – this was probably the first launch. Representatives of the military department revealed some features of the new complex, and also pointed out its advantages over existing products.

Apparently, in the near future, the IRGC and the development companies will conduct the remaining tests, after which the Khorramshahr-4 missile will be put into service. Over the next few years, we can expect the deployment of a sufficient number of such complexes in the troops. Due to the characteristic advantages, “Khaibary” will positively affect the potential of the missile forces as a whole.

Technical features

Two missile systems of the Khorramshahr line are as similar as possible to each other. The new Khorramshahr-4 project makes maximum use of components and assemblies from the previous complex and its missiles, but a number of new components have been introduced to improve combat performance. It is reported that such improvements have affected the combat equipment and the missile control system.

Like its predecessor, the Khaibar complex is made mobile. Its main elements are a towed launcher on a three-axle semi-trailer and the rocket itself. In addition, the complex should include a command post responsible for preparing for the launch and its conduct. Thanks to automobile chassis and tractors, the complex can quickly move between positions and begin preparations for launch.

There are no exact data on the layout of the Khorramshahr-4 rocket. According to various sources, it is divided into one or two stages. The appearance of the rocket body may indicate a division into two large-sized units. In this case, the declared range characteristics can be achieved with any scheme. The rocket has a cylindrical body with a conical nose fairing. There is a longitudinal fairing connecting the head fairing and the tail compartment.

The total length of the rocket of the new model reaches 12-13 m with a diameter of 1,5 m. The launch weight should reach 18-20 tons. Of these, 1500 kg falls on the combat load.

Both rockets of the Khorramshahr line are equipped with liquid rocket engines at all stages. The new Khorramshahr-4 IRBM uses self-igniting fuel stored in ampoule tanks. The maximum launch range for both missiles is 2 km. The speed of the detachable warhead on the descending part of the trajectory reaches 8M.

Test run

Like other IRBMs, the Khorramshahr and Khaibar products must use an inertial navigation-based control system. It provides the output of the warhead to the calculated trajectory. Part of the flight of the block passes outside the atmosphere.

The combat unit for Khorramshahr-4 received its own controls and propulsion system, probably a maneuvering one. The possibility of controlling and correcting the trajectory in the exoatmospheric section is declared. Due to this, the accuracy of the hit is increased. In addition, the block deviates from a predictable trajectory and actually makes the missile quasi-ballistic. Intercepting such a target is a difficult task.

It is reported that the rocket can carry different load options. It can be conventional or nuclear monoblock. In addition, cassette equipment can be used. Thus, the command of the military space forces of the IRGC said that one Khorramshahr-4 missile is capable of hitting up to 80 targets. The declared payload is quite sufficient to accommodate a cassette with a large number of combat elements of a significant mass.

Obvious advantages

To date, the new Khorramshahr-4 IRBM and the mobile missile system of the same name have been tested and show their characteristics. Obviously, in the coming months or years, these products will cope with the tests and will be recommended for adoption. Then the Iranian industry will master mass production, and the complexes will begin to enter the missile units of the IRGC.

Judging by the published data, the Khorramshahr-4 / Khaibar complex has a number of important technical, operational and combat advantages. So, the origin of the rocket is of great importance – it was made on the basis of a serial product using the maximum number of ready-made components. This will speed up and simplify the mass production and development of missiles among the troops.

It should be taken into account that the introduction of new solutions and technologies has nevertheless complicated the development of the project and will further affect the production process. However, all the costs of fuel ampulization, a new combat load, etc. fully pay off due to the increase in key characteristics and capabilities.

The use of ready-made components did not allow improving the flight characteristics of the new IRBM. At the same time, the firing range of up to 2 thousand km allows the new complex to solve all the intended tasks. Both versions of Khorramshahr are capable of controlling a significant part of the Middle East and the surrounding regions. First of all, the main potential adversary of Iran – Israel – falls into the zone of their defeat.

Of great interest is information about the new combat equipment. Instead of a conventional warhead capable of flying only along a given ballistic trajectory, a kind of aircraft has been developed that is capable of some change in the trajectory. Moreover, such a unit can carry different types of combat load.

The updated combat equipment allows solving a wider range of tasks – by choosing the most effective warhead in this case. In addition, the interception of the warhead after separation from the missile is sharply difficult. It is not known whether the foreign air defense and missile defense systems available to potential adversaries are capable of working on such targets.

Potential and security

The new Khorramshahr-4 IRBM, successfully developed and brought to trials, clearly shows the potential of the Iranian defense industry. Iranian enterprises, commissioned by the IRGC, are capable of creating new missile systems of various classes, incl. strategic systems, and can also upgrade existing designs with improved performance and capabilities.

The new missile system will enter service in the foreseeable future and enhance Iran’s missile potential. Due to its high performance and new capabilities, it will become a more effective means of strategic deterrence. “Khorramshahr-4” / “Khaybar” will complement other missiles and will contribute to ensuring national security and maintaining peace in the region.