In the quarter century since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Iran has established in-house capability for the development and production of cruise and ballistic missiles. To cope with the effect of the military equipment sales embargo on the country, Iranian specialists have mastered reverse-engineering methods. Considerable experience in copying Eastern and Western weapons has prepared Iran well for its next step: establishing full-cycle missile development and production without foreign assistance.
At the Iran Airshow 2005, held on Kish Island, just 120 miles from Dubai, Tehran-based Turbine Engine Manufacturing (TEM) company exhibited its Toloo-4 mini jet engine. The compact turbojet engine uses a three-stage compressor (with 1:3.75 pressure ratio) and a single-stage turbine. The Toloo-4 has undergone trials and has entered series production, according to TEM managers.
The Iranians made no secret of the fact that they based the design of the Toloo-4 is based on France’s MircoTurbo TRI60-2 powerplant. The 120-pound engine produces 815 pounds of thrust and can power a cruise missile weighing about 2,200 pounds. With an overall length of 52 inches and a diameter of 13 inches, it would fit into the narrow bodies of antiship missiles in the Harpoon class. TEM is now working on a more advanced, higher-thrust Toloo-5 model that it also displayed at the Iran Airshow.
It remains to be seen exactly what munitions these engines will power. With reverse engineering mastered, and a number of European, Chinese and Russian missiles in hand, Iran can easily copy them. Iranian officials have floated the names of Ra’ad and Noor as designations for indigenous cruise missile programs. Reportedly, those programs will center on Iranian versions of the Russian Raduga P-15 and Chinese C-802 antiship weapons. Iran has also acknowledged that it runs special programs for development of improved guidance systems as part of the programs.
The large-scale use of low-flying, self-homing, turbojet-powered cruise missiles could pose a serious threat to any foreign force in the Gulf and adjacent territories. Iran also produces the Shahab series of ballistic missiles derived from the Russian Scud. But, as the two recent Gulf wars demonstrated, Iraqi Scuds fell easy prey to U.S. air defense systems such as the Raytheon Patriot PAC3.