Military Knowledge: Fattah Hypersonic Ballistic Missile
The Fattah missile is the first example of Iranian hypersonic missiles that was unveiled in a special ceremony in Tehran on June 6. This missile, with a speed of more than 13 Mach in the midcourse phase and a speed higher than 5 Mach in the terminal phase and also with the ability to maneuver at a distance of 100 km before hitting the target, is considered a very big leap in Iran’s missile arsenal. In fact, the Fattah missile is a very advanced MaRV (Maneuverable Reentry Vehicle) ballistic missile that has tried to maintain a speed of 5 Mach or more throughout the maneuver and impact to be classified as a hypersonic missile.
Most ballistic missiles have the ability to reach speeds higher than 5 Mach, but they are not considered hypersonic because they follow a ballistic path and have bullet-like movement. In general, it is easy for air defense systems to detect a ballistic trajectory at any speed. But maneuvering in the final phase is an important characteristic that creates a fundamental difference in missile classification. A hypersonic ballistic missile is a ballistic missile that has the ability to maneuver before hitting its target while maintaining a speed of more than 5 Mach.
For example, the Khorramshahr missile has a speed of near 16 Mach in the intermediate phase outside the atmosphere and a speed of near 8 Mach when entering the atmosphere, but it lands directly on the target like a bullet, so it is just a ballistic missile.
A review of the Fattah missile shows that this missile has a lot of similarity to the Kheibar Shekan missile in appearance. The tail fins and warhead have a lot of similarity to each other. The similarity is such that even the front ramp of the warhead control fins is the same. Therefore, it is assumed that the diameter of the Fattah and Kheibar Shekan missiles are also the same.
Given the great similarity between the two missiles and also the software reviews that were done, it can be assumed that the two missiles have the same diameter, equal to 80 centimeters. Also, considering that the length of the warhead has been announced as 3.6 meters, with a software review of the missile, the total length of the missile can be considered as 11.5 meters.
Another similarity between these two missiles is their range. In addition to the visual similarity of the Kheibar Shekan and Fattah missiles, the range of these two missiles is also similar to each other. The Kheibar Shekan has a range of 1450 kilometers and Fattah has a range of 1400 kilometers.
The missile body, along with the end fins and the fins on the cap, is entirely composite (carbon fiber). The body color is also of the radar wave absorbing type, which helps increase missile stealth. The use of warhead fins is when the missile comes down from an altitude of 30 kilometers and enters the atmosphere. Because at higher altitudes it has no effect on warhead maneuvering. This is useful for maneuvering near the target.
As it is clear, the aerodynamic shape of the Fattah and Kheibar Shekan warheads are the same, but due to the addition of an engine and fuel in the final section, it has been tried to maintain the aerodynamics of the warhead and reduce drag by making the missile tip longer.
As mentioned, the warhead has propulsion with the ability of change thrust vector, and the presence of this engine allows the warhead to maintain its speed at a speed of more than Mach 5 when maneuvering near the target. When the warhead enters the atmosphere, its speed is greatly reduced due to the strong air resistance, and by performing heavy maneuvers with the help of its fins, its speed is reduced again; But with the warhead engine, it is possible to increase the speed to more than Mach 5. Also, with the thrust vector nozzle, it is possible to perform heavier maneuvers.
It should be noted that this engine can be turned on when the warhead is separated from the missile, which increases the flight height of the warhead and greatly increases its range.
The next issue is how the Fattah missile works and whether it is hypersonic or not.
This missile has a warhead with the ability to change thrust vector, which allows it to maneuver from the time the warhead separates from the body at an altitude of 300 kilometers above the ground. So after separating from the body, the Fattah missile’s warhead maneuvers with a low or depressed trajectory to escape anti-ballistic missile systems and changes or adjusts its path several times during flight.
It should be noted that Fattah does not need much maneuvering outside the atmosphere; in addition to performing regular maneuvers to adjust its path, this missile has the ability to change its ballistic path shape. The next point is the ability to maneuver from a distance of 100 kilometers before hitting the target, which also puts it in the category of MaRV ballistic missiles.
So, Fattah follows a non-ballistic path both outside the atmosphere and when it is in Earth’s atmosphere and near its target. However, it should be noted that the mentioned capabilities alone do not make Fattah hypersonic. What puts the Fattah missile in the category of hypersonic ballistic missiles is that in addition to the mentioned capabilities, the missile’s speed at the moment of impact on the target is also higher than 5 Mach. This has been made possible by keeping the engine on for 50 seconds at different stages of flight to maintain warhead speed. As a result, by combining all of these features, we can consider Fattah as a hypersonic ballistic missile.
Fattah missile specifications:
Length: ~ 11.5 meters
Diameter: ~ 80 cm
Weight: 4000 to 4600 kg
Warhead length: 3.6 meters
Warhead weight: ~ 1000 kg
Weight of explosives: ~ 500 kg
Speed: more than Mach 13
Range: 1400 km (increasable)
Fuel: solid compound
Flight trajectories: ballistic (maneuverability from the mid-phase)
“Fattah hypersonic ballistic missile” posters collection in Persian, Russian, Arabic, Azeri, Kurdish and Hebrew: