Friday, July 15, 2011

Iran's Anti-Ship Missiles

 Iran's Anti-Ship Missiles

This is an updated version of a previous piece by this blog.

- Fajr-e Darya
- Kosar
- Nasr
- C-801
- C-802/Noor
- Harpoon
- C-201
- Raad

(also, my apologies if the footnotes are off, please point out any inconsistencies if you see them)

Fajr-e Darya (فجر دریا )
The Fajr-e Darya is a light anti-ship missile based off the Italian Sea Killer Mk. 2. The Sea Killer was designed by Italy's OTO Melara in the 1960s and was chosen as the primary surface-to-surface armament of the IIN's Alvand/Saam class frigates which would carry them in five-cell launchers. (1) They were also mounted on the IIN's BH-7 Mk. 5 hovercrafts which could carry four of them on their decks. They could also be fired in the air-to-surface role by Iran's AB-212s and ASH-3Ds. (2)  It is unclear exactly when Iran began to receive the Mk. 2 variant missiles since most sources peg development of the missile as continuing up through 1984. (3) It is generally accepted that Iran exhausted their stock of original Sea Killers during the Iran-Iraq war judging from dwindling deployment on surface vessels.
Fajr-e Darya  (Unknown)

The Sea Killer Mk. 2 features a solid-fuel booster and a solid-fuel sustainer motor housed in missile's narrow body. A large bulbous nose draws the eye and house the SAP warhead and guidance payload with active radar seeker. A set of four control surfaces are mounted in a cruciform configuration mid-body while the set of fins at the rear of the missile (ignoring the booster) are for stabilization. (4)

Fajr-e Darya test on IRINN ASH-3D (Unknown)
After the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iran is reported to have provided examples of the Sea Killer Mk. 2 to China which in turn reverse-engineered it into the FL-6 and then provided a production line to Iran under the name "Fajr-e Darya" (Dawn of the Sea).(5) The only external visual difference between the two missiles is the replacement of the active radar with an EO-seeker mounted in the nose. The Fajr-e Darya also features several unidentifiable objects on rear set of stabilizing wings. However lack of sufficient photographic evidence makes it impossible to tell whether these objects are also found on the Sea Killer Mk. 2. It is reported to have a range of 25 km and sea-skimming capability. (6) Both the ASH-3D and AB-212 should have the capability to carry two missiles.

Kosar (کوثر)
The Kosar family of light, sea-skimming anti-ship missiles (AShM) are license produced copies of the Chinese TL-10/C-701 missiles. The family is often said to have been developed in cooperation between Iran and China along with the C-704 (Nasr).(7) Others claim that the missile was developed by China specifically for Iran. (8) Both of these scenarios, while they cannot be verified, are more then believable. SIPRI reports that Iran purchased 40 of these missiles from China in 1998 with all of them being delivered or locally assembled between 2001 and 2004. (9) It is likely, since these numbers are so small, that this was only a test batch since we have seen such a large number of launch platforms being built in recent years.

All three known variants of the missile are lightweight models, designed to attack ships with a displacement in the "low hundreds" such as fast-attack craft and missile boats. Judging from the combat history of other missiles in their size class, another potential use would be against support vessels like minesweepers or landing-craft, as well as volley attacks against larger craft. (10) This last role is supported by their use on IPS-type fast-attack craft.

An unknown sub-type of the Kosar is the most likely culprit behind the 2006 attack by Hezbollah on the Corvette "Hanit" which killed for Israeli sailors. The small amount of damage sustained by the Hanit as well as relative ease of operation for Hezbollah with regard to the size of the launch cells. See this post for why this assumption is probably incorrect.

All three models share the same basic configuration with cruciform mid-body cropped-delta wings and aerodynamic control surfaces at the rear of the missile. Propulsion is provided by a two-stage, solid fuel rocket motor.

The flight profile is traditional: boosting to cruise altitude after launch where INS takes over and delivers to the missile to the target area where it turns on it's terminal seeker to search for a target at which time it descends to "sea-skimming" level (exact altitude unknown) for the final run to the target.

The Kosar is a copy of the TL-10A which was developed by China's Hongdu Aviation Industry Corporation. This model can be identified by the TV seeker with a transparent dome in the nose of the missile as well as external control lines running from the control surfaces at the rear of the missile, to the guidance section further forward. The mid-body wings also have a shorter leading-edge then the C-701R (below).

Kosar - note the control lines and absence of installed seeker (Mehr News)
The TL-10 can be launched by sea (such as on the C-14), though potential air and coastal launch capability does exist.

Specifications: Kosar/TL-10A (11)
Length: 2.5 m
Diameter: 18 cm
Wingspan: 52 cm
Weight: 105 kg
Speed: .85 mach
Range: 3-15 km
Warhead: 30 kg semi-armour piercing (SAP)
Guidance: INS+TV
Hit Probability: 85%

  This missile substitutes a radar seeker for the TV camera in the TL-10A and is helicopter-launched. (12) Very little evidence of it's use in Iran. Local Iranian designation unknown.
TL-10B - Note the control lines and lack of TV-seeker

The Kosar-1 is a copy of the air-launched C-701T AShM (also known as the C-701KT) developed by the China Precision Machinery Import Export Company (CPMIEC). The missile is characterized by the TV-seeker in the nose, delta wings with a longer leading-edge then the TL-10A/B, and pop-out fins at the wing-tips. Unlike the Kosar/TL-10, the Kosar-1/C-701T is able to receive mid-course updates, allowing an operator to take over control of the missile. (13)

While intended as an air-launched system, the MODLEX entry indicates at least two types of coastal launchers exist. (14)
C-701T - Photograph is nearly identical to Modlex's publicity photos. Note the TV seeker and pop-out wing tips. (Australia Air Power)

Specifications: Kosar-1/C-701T (15)
Length: 2.50 m
Diameter: 18 cm
Weight: 100 kg
Speed: .8 mach
Range: 4-15 km
Warhead: 29 kg semi-armour piercing (SAP)
Guidance: INS+TV+operator command
Hit Probability:95%

This missile is a copy of the C-701R variant of the C-701 which sees the TV-seeker replaced with millimetre wave radar (mmW) and the removal of the pop-out fins on the wing-tips. These seekers tend to have good performance because they're able to provide high resolution, all weather capability and high resistance to countermeasures (16) The missile is also slightly longer and heavier then the Kosar-1/C-701T as well as a correspondingly longer range.
Kosar-3 launch from a coastal battery (Fars News)

Specifications: Kosar-3/C-701R (17)
Length: 2.68 m
Diameter: 18 cm
Weight: 120 kg
Speed: .78 mach
Range: 4-25 km
Warhead: 29 kg semi-armour piercing (SAP)
Guidance: INS+MMW radar
Hit Probability:95%

Nasr (نصر)
The Nasr is a copy of the Chinese C-704 which, along with the Kosar, is believed to be a jointly-developed and produced missile rather then just being a design purchased by Iran (like with the HY-2 for example). However, the family history is a bit more complicated then just that.

In the late 1990s Iran-Sino missile cooperation was reaching new height, including the transfer of several designs of missiles, but under pressure from the US they curtailed most of the cooperation (or at least the most visible programs) including the seizing of many parts of the C-802, forcing Iran to reverse engineer some of the parts. However, the US agreed that some of the shorter ranged missiles being jointly-produced did not fall under the reach of the agreement reached on halting missle sales; the Kosar was one of these missiles, the Nasr was probably another. (18)
Nasr-1 (Unknown)

One of the first references to the Nasr in particular came in 2004 when Jane's compared the newly unveiled Chinese TL-6 with the Nasr which the IAIO had already displayed brochures of. (19) Unfortunately, it's unclear exactly which pamphlets the author is talking about.

An old, now defunct, Modlex site advertises the Nasr as availble for export. It's unclear exactly when this site date's from, but it's possible it's from the mid-2000s. (20) Interestingly, in this entry, as well as in other various illustrations and mockups, the missile more closely resembles the TL-6 versus the C-704 (which, contrary to some observers beliefs, are different missiles) featuring non-folding wings. This may be what has led some to incorrectly hypothesize early on that the Nasr was a copy of the TL-6 and not the later C-704. Another explanation is that there might be different versions of the Nasr in the same way there are different versions of the Kosar,

Sometime during the 2000s the Nasr entered production because during Army Day 2008 we were treated to the first pictoral evidence of an actual Nasr/C-704 missile in Iranian service. These were not mock-ups, but actual production missiles. (21) Later in 2008, Fars News announced that the new missiles were being tested during naval wargames. (22)

In Spring 2010, Iran publically unveiled the Nasr with a visit by DM Vahidi to the inauguration of a production line of the missile. (23)

Note the S/N (Is. MFA)
Then, almost exactly a year later, in March 2011, the IDF intercepted a cargo ship, The Victoria, with cargo bound for the Gaza Strip. Aboard this ship was found, among numerous other crates of munitions, six Nasr missiles, complete with technical documentation, radars, and launching cells. (24) Like Hezbollah's potential use of Kosars, this would represent a generational leap in terms of capability for Gaza-based groups who have been largely reliant on crude rockets shaped from sugar and sheet metal. The nature of the launch cells also illustrate the potential danger to all the worlds navies presented by low-cost anti-ship missiles like this one which are nominally portable, able to be well hidden and fired surreptitiously from hidden locations. It's also worth noting the serial number and date of the manufacture. According to the cover of the technical documentation supplied along with the missiles, the serial of one of the missiles is "SA880805" and was produced in 1/15/1389 (March 2010) which places this missile produced in the batch immediately after the public showing in March 2010 (serials from this showing included SA880711 and SA880716). Also, if the serials are in any way, numerically continuous, then that would mean that Iran has quite a few Nasr's (even assuming the numbers don't go up directly from 0). Lastly, the naming conventions on the technical documentation suggests that the name "Nasr" is simply the name for the missile itself, with "C-704" being reserved for the entire system. For comparison, look to the Shahin missile which is the projectile belonging to the larger Mersad SAM system. Some have asserted that this is a false flag operation by Israel in order to justify further aggression against Iran, however there is absolutely no evidence of this as of yet.

The Nasr itself is a medium-weight anti-ship missile designed for use against ships with a displacement between 300 and 1500 tons which includes smaller missile boats up through corvettes like the Saudi Badr class and the UAE's MGB-62 class. (25) (26)

In it's design the Nasr can be described, in essence, as a scaled-up Kosar. It features the same basic configuration with a two-part solid-fuel motor, mid-body folding cruciform wings (though it should be mentioned that many drawings of the missile do not feature the folding aspect) and cruciform aerodynamic control surfaces at the rear of the missile with the warhead and guidance payload at the front of the missile. It is also fired from a cell that is visually very similar to the Kosar's.

The Nasr distinguishes itself from the Kosar in scale; the warhead is a 100 kg more and the range is 10 km greater then on the Kosar. Most importantly however, the millimeter wave radar has been exchanged for a centimetre wave radar which, while offering lower resolution, has a greater range then the mmW system.(27)

Nasr being tested aboard a C-14 (Borna News)
The missile has been seen tested on the C-14 fast attack craft and according to Vahidi shore batteries exist, likely self propelled like the Kosar, though the missiles being sent to Gaza indicate that they could just as easily be set up as a diffuse, semi-mobile/static system. Vahidi also asserted that the missile would soon be adapted for launch from helicopters and submarine. (28) Helicopter launch capability isn't that remarkable, but submarine-launch certainly is. It is unknown if there is a difference between the "Nasr" and the "Nasr-1", or if they are the same weapon.

Specifications: Nasr
Length: 3.5 m
Diameter: 28 cm
Weight: 350 kg
Speed: .8-.9 mach
Range: 8-35 km
Warhead: 130 kg
Guidance: INS + Radar homing
Hit Probability: 75%

The C-801 is the first of the YJ-8 AShM family that also includes Iran's C-802/Noor missile. They are often compared to the US's Harpoon and the French Exocet both in terms of overall configuration/design and capability.(29)

Some sources report that Iran began acquiring the C-801 in the late-'80s/early-'90s  and that by 1994, they had 200 of them. (30) However more generally reliable sources assert that Iran's acquisition of C-801 missiles came much later, specifically in March 1997 when Iran received an evaluation batch of 16 C-801Ks (air-launch variant). Testing over the next several months led Iran to conclude that while the missiles were generally inferior to the Harpoon they were still a good overall value; this in turn led to plans to purchase an additional 100 C-801Ks and negotiations for Iran to domestically produce the C-802K. (31)

Part of the reason that comparisons are often drawn between the Exocet and the C-801 is the almost identical dimensions between the two, same length, same diameter, same wingspan, same weight, same warhead weight. The missile body is a long, thin tube with four cruciform wings located set slightly behind the midpoint with aerodynamic control surfaces behind these. Powering the missile is a solid fuel rocket motor and, in the case of coastal and sea-launched variants, an additional solid-fuel booster which drops away after launch. The front of the missile contains both the warhead and guidance section which includes the INS as well as terminal-phase seeker. The terminal phase seeker is the same as on the Noor as well as the Raad; the DM-3B, as it is known in Iran, is described by Global Security as a "monopulse, high-frequency (probably J-band) terminal guidance radar seeker" which has "high anti-jamming capabilities."(32) (33)

Despite knowing that Iran did in fact order a substantial number of these missiles, the current operational status still remains unknown. Because China reneged on their delivery obligations to Iran after 1997 because of US pressure (see above) it's more then possible that only part of the 100 missiles ordered were delivered. The development of domestic tooling and production lines for the Noor would remove any incentive to devote more resources toward the C-801. While some have undoubtedly been expended in training and via attrition, it's likely Iran still maintains the remainder whatever they have left in storage.

While Iran is only known to have procured the air-launched version, they could also be adapted for coastal or naval launch by the addition of the booster. Some have also suggested that the C-801 is the basis for the Saqeb (also, Thaqeb/ثاقب ) which is Iran's reported SLCM. (34) (35)

The C-802 is a development of the Chinese C-801/YJ-8 AShM and serves as the primary anti-ship missile within the Iranian Armed Forces.
Noor on parade (SMM)

Following their experience with the C-801, Iran expressed their interest in producing the C-802K within Iran. These moves however would make far too much of an impression on the US's radar screen and in Fall of 1997 and early in 1998, Washington received assurances from the highest levels that Beijing had halted arms sales of the C-801 and C-802. (36) This forced Iran to reverse engineer the missing missile components and introduce their own production line for the missile, which they did two years later. (37) Over the course of the next several years, Iran began testing and integrating the missiles with their Persian-Gulf-based fleet of F-4Es and Su-24MKs. (38)
Air-launched C-802K (note the F-4E) (

It is similar to the C-801 is almost every way except for the substitution of an air-breathing turbojet engine in place of the solid-fuel sustainer motor. The turbojet is known in Iran as the Toloue-4 and is a copy of a motor produced by the French company "Microturbo SA". (39) The guidance section also features a datalink to allow for mid-course corrections. (40)

In cruise mode, the missile flies at 20 m ASL, but once it enters the terminal phase it descends to 5-7 m. (41)

Today, the missile is being mass produced and is carried by a lions-share of Iran's naval warfare platforms. This includes the air-launched C-802K (Qaem/قائم ) which can be carried by F-4s and Su-24s. Launch cells are also found on Alvand and Mowj class frigates, the Bayandor corvette, Kaman/SINA FACs and Thondar missile boats. Coastal launch variants are notable in that many are designed to operate covertly or can be disguised as civilian trucks. Moreover, equipping the launch trucks with basic surface-search radars also gives them a degree of mobility allowing them to operate without (or with less) support equipment.
Single cell launch vehicle - note the radar and camouflage

Double cell launch vehicle (IRNA)

Specifications: Noor (42)
Length: 6.38 m
Diameter: 36 cm
Weight: 715 kg
Speed:.8-.9 mach
Range:10-120 km
Warhead: 155 kg
Guidance: INS + Radar Homing
Hit Probability: 90%

Iran originally ordered a modest number of RGM-84A Harpoon AShMs from the US in the 1970s to fit to their stock of Combattante (Kaman/Sina) class FACs. (43) One of Iran's P-3s (it's unclear which one) was adapted to carry the Harpoon (AGM-84A) but there is no evidence that it was ever used in combat or is still used in this manner today. While Iran has no known supply route to obtain additional missiles, at least one Kaman-class FAC (P226) can still be seen on exercises armed with Harpoons rather then the more common Noor.
P226 armed with Harpoon AShMs (FNA)

Commonly identified as the "Silkworm", the C-201 Seersucker is the most well-known and infamous of Iran's AShMs thanks to it's widespread proliferation across the world, previous usage, and general media unfamiliarity with exact missile designations.
HY-2G launch - note the frame for camouflage (FNA)

The HY-2 was widely exported across the Middle East and saw action during the Iran-Iraq war where both sides used them against military and commercial targets. Iran's acquisition of the HY-2 began in 1986 when they captured an Iraqi missile base near Faw during the Valfajr-8 offensive that housed numerous Iraqi HY-2s that were being used against Iranian shipping originating from the northern Persian Gulf. It's unclear exactly what Iran was able to capture, but the it was enough, reportedly, to serve as the basis for Iran to reverse engineer. (44) Also around this time, Iran purchased a number of HY-2 missiles and associated launch equipment from China in order to outfit their own anti-shipping units. (45)

Control over the HY-2s was given (predictably) to the IRGC where they were located in and around the Hormuz passageway on Islands like Qeshm, Farsi and Larak. The IRGC deployed the missiles on mobile launchers as well as on built-up launching pads with revetments that allowed for more precise targeting. (46) Many of these sites are still visible today and may remain in use (Ex: Larak, Qeshm).

During the early-90s, China is reported to have transferred production know-how to Iran. This might appear to some to conflict with earlier reports indicating Iran reverse engineered them. However it's more then possible that Iran's reverse engineered production lines, if they did exist at all, were of a lower quality then the genuine tooling, materials, and training available from the Chinese. (47)

The missile itself is extremely large with two equally large horizontal mid-body wings for lift with three control surfaces at the rear of the missile arrayed very much like the H/V-stabilizers on aircraft rather then the cruciform pattern found on most missiles. Unlike modern missiles, it also uses a rather elaborate system of liquid fuel for propulsion which is highly toxic and requires full chemical protection to prepare for launching. Iran operates the HY-2G variant of the missile which features a radio altimeter for improved sea-skimming performance though it still retains the same active radar seeker as used on the original HY-2. (48) Details about any ground-based support radars used for tracking and surveillance are unknown.

Today, the HY-2 continues to be a mainstay of the IRGCs coastal defence units despite its obsolescence who are often seen during wargames firing the missiles from towed coastal launchers. A self-propelled variant similar to a North Korean design has also been seen on parade. Lately, launchers have been seen fitted on Mercedes Benz trucks and fitted with scaffolding to disguise them as civilian vehicles. It is also serves as the basis for Iran's indigenous Raad-1 which features numerous improvements.

Specifications:HY-2G (49)
Length: 7.36 m
Diameter: 76 cm
Weight: 2,998 kg
Speed:.9 mach
Range: 95 km
Warhead: 513 kg
Guidance: INS + active radar homing

Raad (رعد)
The Raad is an indigenous variant on the HY-2 which sees the replacement of the liquid-fuel engine with a turbojet that lends the missile it's distinctive appearance with two air-scoops at the rear of the missile. The archaic guidance package has also been replaced with the same DM-3B monopulse radar seeker used on the Noor and an unknown INS. It was first tested in 2004 and was reported have entered an unknown rate of production soon afterwords.(50)
Raad aboard a tracked, self-propelled launch platform (Unknown)

Specifications: Raad (50)
Length: 5.3 m
Diameter: 36 cm
Weight: 555 kg
Range:200-300 km (51)
Warhead: 165 kg
Guidance: INS + homing radar

Works Cited and Endnotes:
(1) Sistel Sea Killer/Marte. Harpoon Databases.
(2) IRINA Islamic Republic Of Iran Naval Aviation. Iranian Aviation Review. Issue No. 1. P. 9
(3) Sources vary on the development timeline of the missile,According to Jane's it began in 1975, though Harpoon Database suggests 1980. Others even suggest late-60s/early-70s.
(4) ibd Harpoon Databases.
(5) It's worth noting that almost no information can be gathered on any missile in China designated "FL-6".
(6) ibd Iranian Aviation Review, no 1.
(7) Report on the 5th Airshow, China. Richard Fisher, Jr. International Assessment and Strategy Center December 13th 2004.
(8) China Aids Iran's Tactical Missile Program. Robert Hewson. Jane's Air Launched Weapons. November 17th 2004. Accessed via:
(9) SIPRI Arms Transfer Database. 
(10) Helicopter launched AShMs played large roles in the Falkland War as well as the 1st Persian Gulf War.
(11) Modlex Entry.
(12) ibd Hewson, 2004
(13) ibd Modlex
(14) ibd Modlex
(15) ibd Modlex
(16) Active Radar/Millimetre Wave Precision Targeting System. Defence Update.
(17) ibd Modlex
(18) China's Missile Exports and Assistance to Iran. NTI.
(19) ibd, Hewson, 2004
(20) To view a copy of the entry:
(21) This image is accessible via:
(22) In Persian:
(23) Iran Opens "Nasr-1" Cruise Missile Production Line. ISNA. March 7th 2010.
(24) C-704 "Nasr" Missiles Found on Intercepted Cargo Ship. Uskowi on Iran. March 16th 2011.
(25) Basic information on ships of the RSN and the UAE Navy via Wikipedoa.
(26) ibd Modlex
(27) The C-704 carries a cm-band radar, and logically so would the Nasr though we have not recieved official confirmation from Iran that it does, so far it's only been described as a "homing radar seeker"
(28) ibd ISNA, 2010.
(29) PLA Cruise Missiles / PLA Air-Surface Missiles. Australia Airpower. Kopp et al. August 2010.
(30) C-801. Global Security.
(31) Sukhoi Su-24MK Fencer-D. Iranian Aviation Review. Issue No. 3. P. 14
(32) ibd Global Security, C-801
(33) Translation of ISNA News article done by a member of the now-defunct "". 
(34) Iran Tests New Submarine to Surface Missile. AP. August 2006. Accessed via:
(35) Naval Forces - Iranian Military Capability 2011. Open source Intelligence Project. P. 70. Accessible via this blog.
(36) ibd NTI
(37) ibd Iranian Aviation Review, no 3.
(38) ibd Iranian Aviation Review, no 3.
(39) ibd Iranian Aviation Review, no 3.
(40) ibd Naval Forces - Iranian Military Capability 2011.
(41) ibd Modlex
(42) ibd Modlex
(43) SIPRI Arms Transfer Database. 
(44) Iran-Iraq War in the Air 1980-1988. Tom Cooper and Farzad Bishop. Schiffer Military History. 2000. P. 199, 210.
(45) SIPRI Arms Transfer Database
(46) Google Earth
(47) ibd NTI
(48) Ibd Kopp et al, 2010.
(49) The Lessons of Modern War - Volume II. CSIS. Accessible via:
(50) History of the Missiles of Iran - 4. Saff Magazine. No. 357. p.46
(51) Some sources claim a range of 350 km (ibd translation of ISNA article done by member)


  1. there are official reports about an improved version of noor with 170 km range like this:

  2. your welcome Galen, Thank you to for good article too, why didnt you include new anti-ship Tondar and Persian Gulf ballistic missiles in your article?

  3. Galen: I really enjoyed the detail and empirical rock-solid fact-based approach. HOwever, at the end, after having read all the details, I felt unsatisfied. The article is anticlimactic, as there is no overall picture to place all these fine details into a big-picture perspective; a summarizing paragraph telling the non-specialist reader what all this wealth of knowledge tells us about the dangers these weapons systems pose to the 5th fleet, aircraft carriers and their escort battleships. In a phrase, really, I am no better off after having read this wealth of information about Iran's ability to ward off enemy ships, as I was before I read the article.

    Don't be so bashful; venture out of the shallow puddles of empirical certainty and wet your feet in the Ocean Without Shores of metaphysical speculation.

  4. Unveiling ceremony of the Qader cruise missile and the valifajr torpedo :

    Close up:

  5. I presume that the Qader is the Iranian version of the Chinese C-803:

  6. That may be possible Anon, and it's one of the conclusions we've come to over at Iran Military Forum, it could also be the C-802KD which has a 200 km range as well and land-attack capability which we have seen demonstrated on this missile - an ability which is said to be lacking on the C-803 because it is supersonic.