Tehran (IP) - Increasing the operational capacity of combat helicopters that always has been the focus of the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran, has become even more valuable with the growth and development of Iran's defence industry, especially in the field of missile reconnaissance and weapons systems.

Iran PressIran news: Modernization of the large fleet of attack helicopters at the disposal of the Islamic Republic of Iran Army Aviation is one of the most important and high priority issues in recent years and to date, several important achievements have been made in this field. The projects are based on a master plan called Storm Helicopters, which includes the installation of targeting and optical reconnaissance systems, night-vision goggles for the pilot and new weapons for the helicopter.

In addition, other helicopters, such as the 214 helicopter, will be equipped with optical targeting and reconnaissance systems, night-vision goggles for the pilot, and new weapons. There are also several projects related to the upgrade of Cobra helicopter weapons, such as the installation of the Dehlawieh missile as an Iranian example of the famous Cornet anti-tank missile, Qamar Bani Hashem (AS) missile and Heidar missile but perhaps one of the most special projects in this section is a project called Shafaq. The Shafaq missile is one of the newest weapons products for use in the helicopters of the Armed Forces, which has been installed and operated on Islamic Republic of Iran Army Aviation helicopters in recent years.

This missile is one of the achievements of the Army Ground Self-Sufficiency Research and Jihad Organization.

Shafaq was first seen under the fuselage of a Karrar drone during the visit of then-President Hassan Rouhani to the Ministry of Defense on March 1, 2014. But a few years later, Brigadier-General Yousef Ghorbani, Commander of the Army Air Force, announced on April 16, 2018, the unveiling of the Shafaq missile as one of the operational missiles of the day and required by the Air Force helicopters in the parade on April 18 (Army Day).

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Specifications and features

The Shafaq air-to-surface missile, with a length of one meter and 90 centimeters and a weight of about 50 kilograms, is capable of destroying multiple ground targets in all weather conditions and carrying out night operations. The Shafaq missile intercepts and hits targets in the range of 8 to 12 kilometers.

The significant range of the Shafaq missile provides high security for its carrier aircraft against artillery air defense systems, missile launchers and some short-range surface-to-air missiles.

The high speed of this missile also keeps its flight time at a suitable level according to the maximum range. This supersonic missile can move towards the targets with a speed of Mach 2 to 2.7. Shafaq 60 kg is able to penetrate to the depth of 1 to 1.5 meters in the body of armored equipment due to the special warhead and delay fuse.

The accuracy of the Shafaq missile is 30 square centimeters at a distance of 10 kilometers. One of the most important features of this missile is the ease of use and the lack of need for a helicopter to stand in front of the target, which is in the category of FIRE & FORGET missiles.

In this way, the helicopter is no longer needed to guide the missile until it hits the target, which is very useful for its survival on the battlefield. The first generation Shafaq uses the Infrared Imaging (IIR) detector, which is capable of engaging armored and floating targets from all angles.

This detector has a high resistance to interference and deception and has a much better sensitivity in detecting targets and operate improperly with a percentage reduction in range.

This technology is used in various systems with missile detection, target tracking, fire control systems and missile sensors. In missiles using an infrared image finder, the sensor image data is also transmitted to the launch system via a data connection line.

The first generation of the Shafaq missile was originally designed and built on the basis of the Shahab Saqib series air-to-air missiles, which are also based on the Iraqi-booted Krotal missile or the FM80 purchased from China.

Shahab Saqeb is a 84 kg rocket with a 13.5 kg warhead that can reach a maximum speed of 740 meters per second due to its solid fuel propulsion.

The missile has a range of 8.8 to 11 km in surface-to-air mode against various targets. One of the differences between the Shafaq missile and the Shahab Saqib missile, which is easily recognizable, is the removal of the control small wings on the nose of the Shahab Saqib missile at Shafaq.

The first generation of the Shafaq missile uses an infrared image detector (IIR). This type of detector has the ability to track armored and floating targets from all angles, has a relatively high resistance to jamming and deception, and has a much better sensitivity in detecting targets.

One of the advantages of this missile is its ease of use and no need for the helicopter to stand in front of targets, which indicates that it is in the category of 'shoot and forget' missiles.

The new generation of Shafaq

During the visit of Major-General Mousavi, the Chief Commander of the Army, to one of the bases and air support centers in Qazvin province in the early 2021, images related to the optimized Shafaq missile were released, which reveal new information about this.

Of course, these images were not the first ones, and it was the first time during a drone exercise last year that the army of the Islamic Republic of Iran released an image of a modernized Cobra helicopter equipped with this weapon.

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The new type of Shafaq missile has a significant improvement in terms of capabilities, and the range of this missile has significantly increased compared to the previous generation and is up to 20 km. It is capable of destroying moving and fixed targets in a radius of 15 to 20 km by using a laser finder and a speed of 750 meters per second, and its error coefficient in this distance is less than 20 centimeters.

Using a 13 kg warhead, this 2-stage missile can significantly penetrate and destroy a variety of armored systems and is capable of destroying a variety of tanks, personnel carriers, concrete trenches, submarines and defense infrastructure.

The use of shaped charge shows that anti-tank capability is considered the main priority for this missile, and considering the possibility of changing the missiles of this missile, the possibility of changing the warhead, and considering options such as 'thermobaric' or 'Fragmentation' for specialized confrontation with enemy equipment or personnel in the open air will not be far from the mind.


Shafaq missiles have been installed on Islamic Republic of Iran Army Aviation helicopters in the post-production years. Brigadier-General Ghasem Khamoushi, Commander of the 4th Air Force Base of the Iran Army Aviation, announced on September 16, 2020, that the base was holding a training exercise with the Shafaq long-range anti-armored missile. The new generation of Shafaq air-to- surface missiles, which have special operational capabilities compared to the previous model, are installed on Cobra helicopters and 214 Iran Army Aviation.

While in the first generation of the Shafaq missile we see the use of two missiles of this type in the Cobra helicopter, but based on the images related to the visit of the army commander in April 2021, it is possible that the Cobra helicopter can carry at least 4 missiles of this type. Cobra attack helicopter and 214 combat support helicopter are equipped with the new generation of Shafaq missiles.

Of course, according to the published images, the Shafaq missile can also be installed and used on Karrar UAVs and using a different launch rail with the model installed in Cobra helicopters, it can also be installed under Karrar UAVs.

The Karrar drone, capable of reaching a maximum speed of 900 km/h, is capable of carrying more of these missiles, which can be used in combat, anti-submarine and anti-target missions.

Written by: Seyed Reza Mirtaher


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