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Tuesday, December 22, 2009     GET REAL

U.S. tracked launch of new missile Iran claims can evade radar

NICOSIA — Iran claims its new solid-fuel ballistic missile can evade radar detection.   

The Defense Ministry said the Sejil-2 was coated with an unidentified material that could foil detection by long-range radar. A senior official said the coating was one of several elements added to the intermediate-range ballistic missile to prevent radar detection.

U.S. government sources have dismissed the Iranian claim. The sources said the U.S. intelligence community tracked the flight of Sejil-2 from launch without disruption.

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"The special paint [coating], the substance used in the shell and some special electronic devices used in the missile are the main three factors that provide a radar-evading capability to the missile," Brig. Gen. Mehdi Farahi, director of the Defense Ministry's Aerospace Organization, said.

In a statement to the semi-official Fars News Agency on Dec. 19, Farahi provided some details of Sejil-2, launched in a test three days earlier. Farahi said Sejil-2, with a reported range of 2,500 kilometers, marked an important element in Iran's deterrence posture.

"The optimized missile is one of the important achievements of the Islamic republic of Iran's defense experts, which plays a significant role in increasing the deterrence power of the Iranian armed forces," Farahi said.

For his part, Farahi said Sejil-2 was designed to penetrate missile defense systems deployed by Israel and the United States. He said the missile was coated with a substance that prevented radar lock-on required for interception.

Sejil-2 was described as a two-stage missile with two engines. Officials said the missile featured a larger range and higher altitude than the liquid-fueled Shihab-3, which could travel about 2,000 kilometers.

"Iran successfully tested the second generation of Sejil missiles and brought them into mass production earlier this year," the Fars News Agency reported. "Sejil missiles are considered third-generation Iranian-made long-range missiles."

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