CNN Accessed Iranian Missiles and Drones That Hit Israel and “The World Couldn't Stop”

“We have to ask the Israelis,” says Major General Ali Belali of Iran's Revolutionary Guards with a wry smile when asked how many ballistic missiles it fired at Israel in the April 14 attack.

Ali Belali is happy to show off the missiles and drones Iran used in its first attack against Israel launched directly from Iranian soil.

“It's a punitive measure,” explains Ali Belali, who uses a laser pointer to mark the missiles that have been launched, towering above him in the exhibit.

Two weeks after the Middle East came closest to an all-out war, Tehran is determined to show the world its ability to fight, with Iran firing hundreds of projectiles at Israel in response to an Israeli airstrike on Iranian diplomatic infrastructure in Damascus. In a broader conflict, if it arises.

Israel's response was not long in coming. On April 19, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched an offensive into Iranian territory. As a result Iranian and Israeli actions caused minimal damage and appeared to be aimed at inter-regional deterrence on both sides. Tensions eventually eased, but the threat of war in the region continues as the Israeli offensive continues in Gaza.

CNN was granted rare access to an Iranian Revolutionary Guards exhibit last month that showcases Tehran's air and space capabilities, including weapons used against Israel. It was the first time a North American media outlet had access to the Revolutionary Guards Space Force's permanent exhibit in western Tehran, where medium- and long-range ballistic missiles stand alongside rocket launchers and drones.

The purpose of the exhibition is to highlight the development and progress of Iran's drone and missile program.

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“Today, our drones and missiles have become an important demonstration of the world's might and power,” said a former missile commander during the eight-year war between Iran and Iraq that ended in 1988.

Ali Belali considers the massive arsenal of drones and missiles launched by Iran against Israel a major success. The attack included drones, ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. The country's air defenses, aided by the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Jordan, intercepted missiles that lit up Israeli cities under the night sky, which also destroyed scores of Iranian drones. Missiles.

“NATO, the United States and the Arab countries in the region wanted to create barriers to our drones, missiles and cruise missiles, but they failed,” Ali Belali guarantees. “The world couldn't stop us,” he insists.

Several Iranian ballistic missiles in the main hall of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Exhibition in Tehran.

Photo: Fred Blitzen/CNN

In the Israeli military narrative, the military says it has intercepted 99% of missiles fired by Iran with the help of its allies.

On the Iranian side, the Revolutionary Guard says it managed to reach two locations in Israeli territory, including the Navatim air base in the Negev desert. According to Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman Daniel Hagari, the ballistic missiles that reached Israeli territory fell on the airfield and caused only minor damage.

Encountering two ballistic missiles he says were involved in attacks against Israel – the Qadr and the Emat – Major General Ali Belali describes them with an accuracy of “less than five meters”. He says these missiles have a range of more than 1,600 kilometers and can carry warheads weighing 450 to 500 kg. Another missile called the Kheybar, which the major general said was used in the attack, carries a warhead weighing about 320 kg.

Largest ballistic missile force in the region

Iran's ballistic missiles have long been a concern of the United States and its allies in the Middle East, who have called for curbs on the missile program in a possible deal between Tehran and Washington.

The U.S. believes Iran has the largest ballistic missile force in the Middle East and considers its missile arsenal one of its “primary tools of coercion and coercion.”

Iran insists its missile program is for defensive purposes only.

Drone attack on an unidentified truck at an Iranian Revolutionary Guards exhibition in Tehran.

Photo: Fred Blitzen/CNN

In recent years, leading up to the attack on Israel, Iran has launched at least five major cross-border missile attacks on Tel Aviv, John Kryjaniak, an associate researcher at the Wisconsin Program on Nuclear Arms Control in Washington, DC, told CNN. Of the five strikes, at least two were against ISIS in Syria and three were said to have targeted US forces, Kurdish fighters and Israeli intelligence in Iraq.

At the exhibition in Tehran, one can find what Iran identifies as an American RQ-170 Sentinel drone made by Lockheed Martin, which it says was shot down in 2011. Part of the CIA's intelligence work involves not only the secret services stationed in Afghanistan, but also military personnel. Three years later, Iran guarantees that it was able to reproduce the same drone.

Ali Belali views Iran's missile development as fundamental to the Islamic Republic's defense strategy. “We are not dependent on anyone for our security capabilities. We have made good progress in this area and will continue to do so. There are achievements yet to be announced”, he points out.

Drones are equally important to Iran's Revolutionary Guards, as demonstrated by the exhibition in Tehran, which ranged from small wooden UAVs used in the war with Iraq to models the Iranians say have stealth capabilities.

One of the most highlighted by Iran is the Shahed 136, an inexpensive “fire-and-forget” drone, meaning that after programming a flight path, the drone is launched and flies freely toward the target.

While the Iranians admit to using dozens of Shahed 136 drones to target Israel, both the United States and Ukraine accuse Tehran of providing hundreds of them to Russia, and Moscow uses them to target Ukrainian cities and energy infrastructure — allegations the Iranians have come forward with. Continued denial.

S dronesMaj. Gen. Ali Belali explains that the HAHED flies at low altitude and usually strikes together, standing in front of an unmarked truck that serves as a secret launch pad. “Everything is pre-planned. “The flight path is chosen according to the capabilities of the enemy and the blind spots of the radars and all the elements that help to reach the target,” he explains.

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