Iran introduced the Asef missile, which research institutes say is capable of reaching all of Israel. Photo/Tasnim News
TEHERAN – Iran has introduced a new type of air-launched cruise missile, known as Asef. According to the Institute of International and Strategic Studies (IISS), the missile is capable of hitting the entire region Israel .
IISS, as quoted by Asia Times, Friday (3/3/2023), reported that Iran had previously displayed a small part of the new weapon on the Su-24M aircraft and appeared to be similar to the Soviet-era Kh-55 cruise missile, which Russia had used in Syria and the war in Ukraine which is currently ongoing.
The research institute noted that while Tehran has been able to manufacture the Kh-55 body, it has not been able to manufacture the missile’s turbofan engine – a complex technology that requires substantial metallurgical know-how and precision engineering.
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The IISS suggests Iran may have used domestic turbofan engines which are less efficient in a fixed underbody configuration than the Kh-55’s drop-down engine layout.
The IISS report said that the Su-24M’s combat radius of 500 kilometers with the Asef’s range of 1,000-1,500 kilometers gives the new missile a maximum strike range of 2,000 kilometers. Thus, the missile allows Iran to hit all of Israel.
The Kh-55 is the basic design for various Iranian cruise missile models. As noted by Missile Threat in August 2021, the Kh-55 was first designed in 1971 as a strategic cruise missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead at a range of 2,500 kilometers with a possible circular error (CEP) of 25 meters.
Other Advanced Iranian Missiles Besides Asef
Missile Threat, part of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), notes that the Kh-55 is roughly analogous to the US Tomahawk cruise missile, with roughly identical body diameter and length and capable of carrying a warhead. 410 kilogram nuclear or 400 kilogram conventional warhead in the Kh-555 variant. Both are guided by inertial guidance or terrain contour matching (TERCOM).
Apart from the Asef, Iran has likely built an entire family of cruise missiles based on the basic Kh-55 design, including the Soumar, Hoveyzeh, and Abu Mahdi.
The Soumar, which was first launched in March 2015, is likely a ground-launched copy of the Kh-55, with a claimed range of 2,500 kilometers, as noted by Missile Threat in July 2021.
However, the report notes that Iran’s inability to produce a domestic version of the Kh-55 turbofan engine means its range may be much lower than Iran claims.
Missile Threat further mentions that Iran launched the Hoveyzeh cruise missile in February 2019, which has a range of 1,350 kilometers, much smaller than the Soumar. The research institute notes that the Hoveyzeh engine housing is typical of a turbojet engine rather than a turbofan engine.
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