U.S. 2017 Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat

June 1, 2017

Weapon Program: 

  • Missile

Many countries view ballistic and cruise missile systems as cost-effective weapons and symbols of national power. These weapons present an asymmetric threat to US forces. Many ballistic and cruise missiles are armed with weapons of mass destruction.

However, numerous types of ballistic and cruise missiles have achieved dramatic improvements in accuracy that allow them to be used effectively with conventional warheads. These highly accurate weapons can be used in anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) missions.


Tehran’s desire to have a strategic counter to the United States could drive it to field an ICBM. Progress in Iran’s space program could shorten a pathway to an ICBM because space launch vehicles (SLV) use inherently similar technologies. Since 2008, Iran has conducted multiple successful launches of the two-stage Safir SLV and has also revealed the larger two-stage Simorgh SLV, which could serve as a test bed for developing ICBM technologies. Iran has developed the Qiam-1 SRBM, the fourth-generation Fateh-110 SRBM, and claims to be mass-producing ballistic missiles capable of striking ships. Iran has modified its Shahab 3 MRBM to extend its range and effectiveness and also claims to have deployed the two-stage, solid-propellant Sejjil MRBM. In 2015, Iran publicized the launch of the Emad-1, which officials claim is Iran’s first long-range missile that is guided throughout flight and capable of hitting its targets with high-precision. Iranian officials have also announced plans for an Emad-2 with greater precision as well as a new Sejjil which can also be guided all the way to the target.


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