Middle EastAnalysis

Iran’s hypersonic missile could be a game-changer in the Middle East

The new weapon could give Tehran a military advantage over international and regional foes

Tehran this week publicly presented its first hypersonic missile, compounding US and Israeli concerns over Iran’s already formidable arsenal of conventional ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and lethal drones. Iranian state television called the hypersonic missile “a big generational leap in the field of missiles”.

If the hypersonic missile is as effective as Iran claims, the weapon could boost Iran’s deterrence and give it a military advantage over international and regional foes. A substantial number of hypersonic missiles could mount devastating counter strikes if Iran is attacked and could be a game changer in the Middle East.

Dubbed Fatah, which translates as Conqueror, the missile is said to fly five-to-10 times the speed of sound and to have a range of 1,400 km. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps aerospace chief Amir Ali Hajizadeh told state media the Fatah missile “cannot be destroyed by any other missile due to how it moves in different directions and at different altitudes”.

The western anti-missile systems deployed in the region are the US surface-to-air Patriots and Israel’s Iron Dome and Arrow. US bases, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Iraq, Qatar, and Israel possess Patriots. Israel’s Iron Dome has, reportedly, been 96 per cent effective against home-made Palestinian rockets fired from Gaza. Arrow is designed to destroy conventional ballistic missiles.


Iran’s Fatah, apparently, seeks out and destroys these anti-missile systems which were in service before the emergence of hypersonic missiles. Until Iran announced its development of hypersonic missiles, the US, Russia, China, and North Korea were the only states believed to have these weapons.

Israeli defence minster Yoav Gallant said this week: “I hear our enemies boasting about weapons they are developing. To any such development, we have an even better response – whether it be on land, in the air, or in the maritime arena, including both defensive and offensive means.”

Israel has repeatedly called for military action against Iran’s nuclear programme and has carried out strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities and assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists. Israel was blamed for a drone attack on an Iranian military factory in January of this year.

The Fatah revelation followed the successful testing at the end of May of Iran’s latest ballistic missile, with a range of 2,000km and a 1,500kg of high-explosives. The long-range, high-speed, precision-guided strategic missile, named Khorramshahr-4 or Kheibar, is believed to be the most advanced non-hypersonic missile to be produced by Iran’s Aerospace Organisation.

In response to the emergence of this missile, US state department spokesman Matthew Miller said: “Iran’s development, and proliferation of, ballistic missiles pose a serious threat to regional and international security and remains a significant non-proliferation challenge” to which the US responds with sanctions.

According to Britain’s defence intelligence agency, Iran is also a world leader in the production of cheap killer-drones. Iran has produced more than a dozen military drones for reconnaissance and delivering explosive payloads. Since the Ukraine war erupted in February 2022, Iran has been accused of smuggling armed drones to Russia. Iranian drones and ballistic missiles have also been fired at Saudi Arabia and the Emirates by Yemen’s Houthi rebels after these countries intervened in Yemen’s civil conflict in March 2015.

Since Iran was subjected to Iraqi missile attack during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War, Tehran has produced nearly two dozen missiles of varying types and ranges with the aim of deterring and warding off rocket attacks from antagonists, particularly Israel.