Iranian missiles Fateh-110, Zolfaghar and means of their effective interception

Iranian missiles Fateh-110, Zolfaghar and means of their effective interception

In October, the information space was agitated by information from Ukrainian intelligence about an agreement on the transfer of tactical short-range ballistic missiles Fateh-110 and Zolfaghar to Russia by Iran. On Tuesday, November 8, Pentagon spokesman General Patrick Ryder said that the American side had no information about the fact of the transfer of missiles. The US presidential administration assured that they would actively prevent such supplies.

Despite this, in the information field of Ukraine, the supply of ballistic missiles by Iran is discussed almost as a fait accompli. Ukraine has already been confronted with Iranian drones, so the supply of other types of weapons looks very likely and scary. Especially in the light of the words of Yuriy Ignat, the speaker of the Air Force Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, that our country does not have the means to effectively counter this threat.

What are ballistic missiles?

The trajectory of a ballistic missile is divided into an active and a ballistic segment. At the beginning of its movement, rising to a considerable height, with the help of the flight control system, the ballistic missile receives the speed and direction necessary to hit the target. After turning off the engine, the warhead of the rocket continues uncontrolled movement along a given trajectory.

Ballistic trajectory examplesBallistic trajectory examples

Tactical ballistic missiles are land-based, sea-based or submarine-based and have a short range – usually up to 1000 km. It is about ground-based short-range tactical ballistic missiles that we are talking about in the event of possible Iranian deliveries to Russia.

The danger of ballistic missiles lies in the height and high speed of flight. Missiles can hit targets at an angle close to vertical. The best areas for their destruction are the starting and finishing ones, however, in the latter case, there is very little time left to knock out a rocket.

Fateh-110 and Zolfaghar missiles

The Fateh-110 single-stage solid-fuel quasi-ballistic missile is located on a movable chassis (6×6, one missile). The maximum flight range is 300 km, the weight of the warhead is 650 kg, the developed speed is Mach 3 (3675 km / h). The destruction power roughly corresponds to two Kalibr missiles, notorious in Ukraine. Over the course of four generations, the accuracy of the missiles has been improved and is now 3 m.

Fateh-110 missiles at Iranian military exercisesFateh-110 missiles at Iranian military exercises

More long-range is the Zolfaghar missile – the result of further development of the Fateh concept. The range of the missile is 700 km. Unlike the Fateh-110, it flies in a true ballistic trajectory. In flight, the warhead is separated from the upper stage. Uses satellite or inertial guidance. Warhead weight – 579 kg, flight speed – Mach 3. Placed on a mobile platform (8×8, installation of two missiles).

Zolfaghar missilesZolfaghar missiles

Only these two names were indicated in the released intelligence data, however, the range of Iranian missiles is much wider, negotiations between Russia and Iran are still ongoing, and it is not completely known what range of weapons can be supplied. It should also be noted that far from all the parameters of Iranian missiles and installations are known exactly and deserve full confidence.

Iranian missilesIranian ballistic missiles

Ballistic Missile Protection

The best means of defense against ballistic missiles are global systems – such as the US National Missile Defense or the Aegis complex. They include a variety of detection tools of various levels and a large number of anti-missile systems. ABM facilities are scattered around the world and include ground and sea-based facilities, large and small radar stations. The key to the success of the fight against ballistic missiles is the timely detection of launches and the destruction of the missile in the initial segment of the flight, or in the phase after acceleration and before re-entry into the atmosphere. Although the existing means of destruction are capable of intercepting missiles in virtually any part of the trajectory.

Aegis missile defense system

The Aegis missile defense system was originally a sea-based system, subsequently acquiring ground-based systems. Designed to combat short and medium-range missiles, as well as hypersonic ones. Destroys targets after the boost phase. Depending on the type and range of the target, various anti-missiles are used – SM-3, SM-2 Block IV, SM-6 and GPI.

Sea-based missiles are located on destroyers and battleships of the United States and other countries in vertically-based mines. Aegis Ashore ground complexes are located in various US territories, as well as in Poland and Romania. Japan refused to deploy ground-based systems – for financial reasons and because, due to the specifics of the location, it could not guarantee that debris would not fall into residential areas.

NATO Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System (AABMDS) site in PolandNATO Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System (AABMDS) site in Poland

The Aegis detection system as part of the IBCS integrated missile defense system allows the use of radars from missile defense systems and MIM -104 Patriot, NASAMS, AN / TPY-2 and F-35 Lightning II combat aircraft to improve target detection and expand coverage.

US national missile defense system

The national missile defense includes, among other things, the Aegis system. It also integrates GMD medium-range ground defense systems with GBI missiles and ground-based radars. To combat missiles in the upper atmosphere, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system with ground-based missiles is used. National Missile Defense facilities are located in the United States, in the Navy and in a number of other countries.

To combat short-range missiles, the National Missile Defense uses the Patriot and Hawk land launchers with the latest modification of ammunition, the Aegis combat system with SM-2 missiles and the Israeli Arrow land mobile system. The listed mobile missile defense systems, as well as some others, are capable of withstanding tactical ballistic missiles by themselves and in sufficient quantities. In the conditions of the Russian-Ukrainian war and the already agreed deliveries of some of them, they deserve special attention.

MIM-23 Hawk medium-range air defense system

Hawk complexes have been produced since 1960 in the USA. During their history, they received many modifications and new ammunition. In particular, the Hawk ILM anti-aircraft guided missile with an optimized warhead is capable of shooting down ballistic targets. The complexes are compatible with the use of many different types of radars, fire control and distribution points, as well as other auxiliary equipment – some of such equipment is already operating in Ukraine as part of other systems.

Hawk installation in Polish serviceHawk installation in Polish service

Modern upgraded versions of the Hawk operate at an interception range of up to 2.5-40 km, intercepting a target at a maximum altitude of 17.7 km. The complex is single-channel in terms of purpose – it is able to work on only one object at a time.

Hawk installations of various generations showed themselves well in the Middle East wars on the side of Israel and the US allies. Currently, Hawk air defense systems are operated by dozens of countries – some of them have already promised to supply these systems to Ukraine.


The modern European SAMP-T air defense system intercepts air targets within a radius of up to 100 km, ballistic missiles at a distance of up to 25 km. The maximum height of the defeat is 25 km. The multi-channel air defense system works simultaneously with 16 targets. Digital control requires only 14 people to operate the complex. It includes self-propelled or ground launchers in the amount of up to 6 units. – each of them has 8 missiles. The complex also includes a radar, an interaction module, a maintenance module, reloading machines, and power generators.

SAMP-T self-propelled launcherSAMP-T self-propelled launcher

The defeat is carried out by Aster 30 missiles with an interesting design: the first sustainer stage and maneuvering engines were added to the adapted air-to-air missile with a warhead of up to 20 kg. At the final stage of the flight, the radar guidance head of the missile works, before that it is controlled by radio.

Iranian missiles Fateh-110, Zolfaghar and means of their effective interception

The number of SAMP-T complexes produced is estimated at 40 units. in service with France and 20 units. from Italy – the allies could transfer several of them to Ukraine without significant damage to their own defense capability. It is unofficially known that negotiations are underway.


The well-known Patriot air defense system, which is in service with the United States and allies, is capable of shooting down short-range ballistic missiles – with the advent of the seriously redesigned PAC-3 modification, this has become the main function of the Patriot in the American missile defense system. The missiles combine the method of semi-active homing with radio control (Track-Via-Missile) – using a high-speed guidance system and AN / MPQ-53/65 radar specially designed for the complex.

SAMP-T self-propelled launcherSelf-propelled launcher and Patriot radar

The MIM-104F missile inflicts kinetic damage on the target, however, a small warhead with large tungsten fragments increases the cross-section of the missile’s destruction. In its bow there are three small shunting engines for leveling the trajectory and correcting the defeat.

The complex supports the possibility of destroying missiles at a given height in order to avoid chemical or other dangerous contamination from the corresponding targets. Enemy missiles are destroyed at an altitude of up to 40 km. The radius of destruction is up to 160 km for the PAC-2 systems, 30 km for ballistic and 60 km for other purposes – for the PAC-3 model.

The cost of a battery of 4 Patriot launchers (there are options with 4 or 16 charges) is estimated at about $ 1 billion, this is one of the most expensive air defense systems.

SAM Arrow or Hetz

The Israeli Arrow air defense system in various modifications resists short and medium-range ballistic missiles. The battery consists of 4 installations of 6 missiles each. The multi-channel complex is capable of tracking up to 12 targets. Ballistic missiles are detected within a radius of up to 900 km and are shot down at a distance of up to 100 km.

Missile ArrowArrow Launcher

It is envisaged to intercept the target with a second anti-missile in case of failure or impossibility of long-range interception and in the immediate vicinity of the complex (8 km). Hetz-3 modification provides for kinetic target destruction, in previous generations non-contact defeat was used

There is talk about the possibility of supplying Israeli air defense systems to Ukraine, but so far Israel has no plans to supply lethal weapons to our country.

F-15 and newer fighters

Modern fourth-generation and newer fighters are capable of carrying PAC-3 (MIM-104F) missiles used in Patriot complexes and other ammunition, as well as the flight characteristics of the F-15 aircraft, allow it to be effectively used to intercept ballistic missiles.

US Air Force F-15C fighter

The issue of supplying modern combat aircraft to Ukraine has not yet been resolved, although it has not been closed yet. Rumors about pilot training are constantly emerging, according to US officials, the issue is on the table, according to others, the idea is still being rejected. According to one version, the transfer of modern fighters can occur only after the end of the war.

The NASAMS and IRIS-T installations are already described in our materials, which can be read at the links. The IRIS-T complex, which has already proven itself in practice as an excellent air defense system, is not formally designed to deal with ballistic missiles, but experts suggest such a possibility.

Currently, Ukraine has only a few modern air defense systems and does not have fourth-generation combat aircraft at all. This is absolutely not enough to counter the threat of tactical ballistic missiles. The rapid increase in the number and range of missile defense, as well as its integration into a single network, will help to solve the problem more effectively, but will increase the chances relatively little – due to the country’s large area and the need to protect many objects.

We also recommend an extensive article on Russian nuclear weapons and ways to counter them:

Russian nuclear weapons – means of destruction, consequences of strikes and chances of confrontation

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