Press TV.ir – July 10, 2008
Israeli experts have dismissed as false the reports that Iran's Shahab-3 ballistic missile is an updated version of the rocket.
According to senior commanders of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) the Shahab-3 long-range ballistic missile can hit targets within a range of 2,000 kilometers with greater accuracy and with a larger payload.
However, the former head of Israel's 'Arrow' missile defense program, Uzi Rubin, is convinced that the new Shahab-3 is not a new version of the Iranian ballistic missile.
"From what I saw, this is an old version of the Shahab-3, and contrary to their claims, it is not capable of reaching 2,000 kilometers, only 1,300 kilometers," Rubin was quoted as saying in Ha'aretz.
Instead, Rubin claimed that an upcoming version of the Shahab-3 with a 2,000 kilometers range has not been tested yet or is not operational.
"Without being hasty, I note that the Iranians have a tendency to exaggerate to a certain extent the capabilities of their missiles," he went on to say.
Iran launched a new military maneuver in response to recent US and Israeli threats against the country. The war game came after Israel carried out a military exercise in an effort to show its defense readiness to enter into a new war in the region.
Israeli experts say that the new Shahab-3 is based on a liquid fuel rocket that requires fueling prior to launch, a time consuming process that leaves the weapon vulnerable to being identified from the air.
But Dr. Nathan Farber of Technion in Haifa says that the Iranians are in the process of developing a more advanced version of the Shahab known as the Ashura, with a range of 2,000 km.
According to Farber's assessment, the new missile uses solid propellants, which makes it easier to launch, although unlike the Shahab-3, its flight time to Israeli airspace is estimated at 14 minutes compared to the 11 minutes of the older missile.
In parallel, Israel is preparing to carry out its own upgrades to its ballistic systems and in recent months, numerous Israeli defense officials have stressed the need to bolster the 'long arm' of Israeli Defense Forces through its air capability.
The new Arrow-3, for example, which is funded in a multi-year program dubbed Tefen, will be capable of intercepting ballistic missiles higher and further away from Israel than its earlier class of rockets.
Yet there is widespread belief that any military attack on Iran would be counterproductive and that Tehran would not change its nuclear policies in the event it does come under attack.
"If Iran's facilities were to be bombed, public support for any retaliation its government took would likely be widespread," the Rand research organization said in a report on Thursday.
Despite this most recent assessment, Israel continues its efforts to enhance its air capability.
Retired air force chief Major General Eliezer Shkedi has called for the procurement of advanced strike aircraft. Israel is expected to acquire F-35 stealth fighter bombers and has asked the US to consider moving forward the delivery date for such aircraft.
Last updated 15/07/2008