Khorramshahr - A Quantum Leap In Iranian Missile Technology

The recent Khorramshahr unveiling at the parade, the IRGC Commander Hajizadeh's statements, and the test footage have given us a raft of information and clues.

What do we know about Khorramshahr?

Surprisingly, quite a lot.

By looking at the images from the parade, we can observe that the Khorramshahr is almost certainly made in cooperation with North Korea, given its similarity to the HS-10 and the R-27 "Zyb" SLBM the HS-10 is based on. From this we can ascertain a bunch of things, like a diameter of 1.5 metres, engine type, fuel etc.

The commander said the Khorramshahr has a 2000 km range with a 1.8 ton payload, and can carry MIRVs.

From certain screenshots we can glean that there were actually 2 tests. In the below image, we can see differences in the sky, with a clear sky in the top image and clouds in the lower image. There is also a lack of mountains in the background, though that may be because of air quality. Furthermore, although both tests were in the same location, the first image depicts the exact TEL launch position further away from the windsock than the second image (it is not visible in the screenshot, but can be seen in the video).

Although the US claimed there was a failed test, at least 1 of the tests was a success, though because of the way the video was shot we can't tell which. This can be seen in the last few seconds of the below video, where the warhead is seen hitting the ground, with the man saying "Allahu Akbar" and "Mashallah", indicating a good test (though I concede that this may be the voice of simply a cameraman or non-technician). Again, I've given the link instead of embedding, because blogger is iffy with videos.

Perhaps obviously, the Khorramshahr is a liquid fuel missile, just like the R-27 and HS-10. And the clean burn indicates good fuel, almost certainly the UDMH/N2O4 mix used in the R-27, and recently, the Simorgh SLV.

We can also observe a few differences between Khorramshahr and the HS-10. The most obvious difference is the lack of folding Russian style grid fins to stabilise the missile in the launch phase.

What are the implications?

Absolutely enormous. 

For one thing, the Khorramshahr in effect has a longer range than just 2000 km. It just does. Iran has gone very, very far with its political 2000 km limit to the point that it gives the Khorramshahr a 1.8 ton warhead to justify the 2000 km range, much larger than the 1 ton warhead in the Shahab-3 and the 650/750 kg warhead in the Emad and Sejjil. Though, in my opinion, they shouldn't have publicly released the warhead weight if they wanted to remain ambiguous and not give the Israelis and Americans any material to scare the Europeans with. Nevertheless, the significant throw weight can allow for impressive payloads that can contain MIRV, jammers, decoys, high grade guidance equipment, and other ABM evasion technology.

Khorramshahr is, in my opinion, an ABM killer. If given very accurate guidance technology, its MIRV tech, combined with a possible lofted trajectory granting higher speed, can make it a huge problem for Israeli and Saudi ABMs, especially given Saudi's recent interest in the THAAD. Alternatively, it can be used to penetrate highly defended areas to hit HVTs, if precision is not sufficient to hit something as small as an ABM radar or TEL.

I've heard some doubt as to whether the Khorramshahr's 1.5 metre diameter is too small for MIRVs. To which I say:

R-27U SLBM, with fairing removed to reveal 3 MIRVs

Speaking of the diameter, this is the first Iranian missile with a larger diameter than 1.25 metres. The Simorgh - though not a missile - has a large diameter, but that has cluster of 4 Nodong engines. Khorramshahr has a single main engine, with a few steering engines. This shows Iranian liquid fuel rocket engine technology has advanced significantly from the Nodong series. The Khorramshahr's engine can be used in more advanced SLVs that could launch heavier, military grade Iranian satellites. In fact, there is evidence the HS-10's steering engine is used in the Simorgh. The Khorramshahr's main engine can also be used in more advanced missile designs.

The 1.5 metres diameter and shorter length of the Khorramshahr also lends itself to easier storage and transportation. It also seems to fit on the standard Iranian MRBM TELs, though they may require some modification. This is great news for cost savings and interoperability. Iran doesn't have to manufacture a whole new type of TEL to accommodate 1 missile type.

One would initially assume that the failed test is shown in the video. However, the Americans say it exploded. In the video, not only do we see an angular jet that could be a steering engine, but for a brief moment we can see this engine straighten out or shut down, indicating nothing more than a course correction. There is no explosion. The "jink" is seen from the ground, but from the quadrant of flight cameras we can see the jet. The straightening out/shut down is at 1 min 21 seconds in the video at the link:

The moment of the possible steering engine shutdown

Puzzlingly, an annotation at the quadrant section showing the angular jet says the depicted section of the video is the warhead separation. However, we do not see the warhead separate. Maybe the annotation is wrong, or the video doesn't show the actual separation, just the procedure before it.

The lack of fins is a huge plus. It indicates Iran is now sufficiently advanced with TVC technology, and increases both range and speed.


Khorramshahr is another example of Iranian-North Korean cooperation. As usual, North Korea goes ahead and deploys the product earlier. But Iran spends more time refining it, and comes up with a better design. North Korea has had a lot of failed tests with the HS-10, but Iran appears to have gotten a successful test already, and improved the design by removing the grid fins. The same case was with the Nodong series. North Korea had the Nodong. Now Iran has turned the Nodong into a much refined missile with a MaRV, called the Emad, able to evade ABMs and grant greater accuracy.


A video has emerged on Twitter showing the warhead separation from the missile body, taken by the onboard cameras.


As you can see 3 of the squares turn blue and say "loss". I think this means the top left square is showing the missile body falling back from the warhead, the camera in the top left being attached to the warhead itself. This indicates that the power supply is in the warhead itself, and when cut off from the missile body, the cameras stop working. This is good, as it proves there is very likely a terminal guidance system. A turn is also made by the warhead, pointing the business end towards the direction of travel.