The story: New footage of Iran’s Apr. 14 attack on Israel circulated by state-affiliated Iranian media has offered clues about the missiles that were deployed. Some outlets claim that the much-touted “hypersonic” Fattah missile was used to evade Israeli air defenses and successfully hit designated targets. However, observers highlight that mostly older models were fired—and that “hypersonic” projectiles such as the newer and more advanced Fattah will likely only be deployed in response to an Israeli attack.

The coverage: Iran’s English-language PressTV claimed on Apr. 15 that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) had successfully used “hypersonic” missiles to strike Israel in the early hours of Apr. 14.

Citing an unnamed source, PressTV said Israel and “its supporters failed to intercept any of the hypersonic missiles fired by Iran.”

Israel says it downed “99%” of the more than 300 drones and missiles launched by Iran—with the assistance of Britain, France, Jordan, and the US.

US media have quoted an American source as saying that five ballistic missiles struck the Nevatim Air Base while four hit the Negev Air Base. Of note, Israel has denied this assertion.

The IRGC has not publicly acknowledged which projectiles were used to target Israel. Operation ‘True Promise’ came in retaliation for the Apr. 1 suspected Israeli bombing of the Iranian embassy compound in Damascus, which killed senior IRGC Quds Force officers.

Based on footage put out by Iranian authorities, some users on Twitter/X have identified the missiles deployed as the Dezful, Emad, Kheybar-Shekan, and Qadr.

One observer told that “Iran used mostly older or lower technology missiles because it didn’t want [to] reveal its best technology. Doing this also meant most would get intercepted, which is…expected as Iran didn’t want to trigger escalation.” The observer added that the latter “meant Iran could do a bigger strike with more of a spectacle for deterrent effect.”

Writing for the Reformist Etemad daily, political commentator Fayaz Zahed on Apr. 15 argued that the IRGC opted against using advanced weaponry such as hypersonic glide vehicles (HGVs). “Iran has prepared itself for round two, meaning that if Israel reacts, Iran will begin another level of military operation against it,” Zahed asserted.

IRGC-linked Owj Arts and Media Organization on Apr. 15 unveiled a new poster that may contain hints of what unfolded the previous day—and what could come next.

Displayed at Tehran’s central Valiasr Square in celebration of the attack, the poster depicts missiles labeled in Persian as Fateh, Fattah, Kheybar-Shekan, Khorramshahr, Qadr, and Sejjil. Placed in the center is the Fattah—the only missile that is notably also labeled in English. The poster carries the message: “Israel is weaker than a spider’s web.”

Mohammad Shaltouki, a military affairs journalist with the government-run IRNA news agency, said on Apr. 14 that the IRGC additionally deployed Shahed-131 and Shahed-136 attack drones.

In the aftermath of the Iranian attack, Tehran and Tel Aviv have each issued threats as Israel considers its next move.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Apr. 15 told his US counterpart Lloyd Austin that Tel Aviv “has no choice” but to retaliate. The following day, reports emerged that the Israeli war cabinet had decided on the form of retaliation.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian warned Britain’s Foreign Secretary David Cameron that if Israel attacks, Iran’s response will be “immediate, stronger, and more extensive.” Other senior Iranian officials have echoed the message that any Israeli reprisal will be met with an immediate response.

The context/analysis: Tehran insists that its unprecedented attack was a “proportionate” response to Israel’s suspected bombing of Iranian diplomatic premises in Syria.

Operation ‘True Promise’ marks the first attack on Israel from Iranian territory. The two countries have fought a “shadow war” for years, with Israel long accused of carrying out assassinations and sabotage operations inside Iran.

Iran prides itself on its locally-developed drone and missile arsenals, and has used its munitions to strengthen ties with Russia in recent years—particularly in the wake of Moscow’s Feb. 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

Iran has reportedly delivered attack drones to Russia, although it insists that the munitions were not specifically intended for the Ukraine conflict. Moscow is notably also setting up a facility to produce drones with alleged Iranian technical assistance.

Reports earlier this year claimed that Iran had also begun exporting ballistic missiles to Russia. However, that assertion has not been confirmed by Moscow or Tehran, and notably dismissed by Ukrainian authorities.

The IRGC unveiled the Fattah in June 2023, describing it as Iran’s first “hypersonic” missile. A controversial term, “hypersonic” refers not only to speed but also the ability to maneuver significantly during atmospheric flight.

Iran claims that “hypersonic” missiles can penetrate any missile defense system, including those deployed by Israel.

In Nov. 2023, the IRGC showcased Fattah-2, which it described as a new HGV.

The future: As further details about Operation ‘True Promise’ emerge, there are indications that Iran has yet to deploy a number of advanced weapons systems with the range to hit Israel.

While the vast majority of Iranian drones and missiles were intercepted in the Apr. 14 attack, it is important to consider that most of the munitions were brought down by non-Israeli forces beyond Israel’s borders. It is unclear whether this arrangement can be replicated, particularly on short notice.

The Iranian attack was telegraphed in advance and reportedly targeted only military sites in the Golan Heights and the south of Israel. A broader Iranian attack without advance warning that may follow Israeli reprisals could thus be deadly.

Amid a growing military partnership with Russia and reports that Iranian arms are ending up in Africa, ‘True Promise’ may also have served as a presentation to prospective arms buyers.

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