Iranian Deputy Defense Minister Qassem Taqizadeh said Saturday that Tehran was working to expand the range of its cruise missiles and that it will soon be adding a home-grown laser air defense system to its arsenal.
Taqizadeh said that Iran’s Defense Ministry was working on a new cruise missile prototype that will have “longer operational range and higher precision with the use of advanced digital and mapping technologies,” according to the semi-official Fars News Agency. He said the prototype would pass the testing stage in the near future.
Taqizadeh also said that a project to produce a laser air defense system had recently been successfully completed and that Tehran was working to mass-produce the new weapon, Fars News reported.
Last month, Israeli Air Force chief Amikam Norkin said the military’s multi-tiered network of air defense systems was “on alert” amid a general threat of attack by Iran.
In recent months, the military has begun to believe that Tehran intends to eventually retaliate against Israel’s regular airstrikes against its forces and proxies in the region.
The Israel Defense Forces believes this could take the form of a large-scale attack involving cruise missiles and attack drones, similar to the strike on Saudi Arabia’s Aramco petroleum facility that was attributed to Iran.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last month that Iran intends to attack Israel from Yemen, which may make intercepting such a strike more difficult as the IDF’s intermediate and long-range air defenses are better positioned to shoot down incoming attacks from Israel’s north, rather than from the south.
Unlike ballistic missiles, which usually fly through a high arc on the way to the target, cruise missiles and drones fly at low altitude, making them harder to detect and intercept.
Iran appears to have been building up its drone activities and attacks in recent months. In August, Israeli fighter jets carried out airstrikes in Syria to thwart a planned attack on Israel by Iran-backed fighters using armed drones, the IDF said at the time.
The Israeli military said its strike targeted operatives from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force as well as Shiite militias, including the Hezbollah terror group, who had been planning on sending “kamikaze” attack drones into Israel armed with explosives.
Israel has vowed to prevent Iran’s regional proxy militias from obtaining advanced weapons to use against the Jewish state and has carried out numerous airstrikes in Syria that it says were to prevent delivery of weapons and to stop Iranian military entrenchment in that country.