Iran's allegedly AI-guided 'Abu Mahdi' cruise missile is officially live

Iran has officially handed over its domestically developed, AI-controlled "Abu Mahdi" cruise missile to the Iranian Navy and Army.
Christopher McFadden
Image of Iran's new cruise missile.

Islamic Republic News Agency 

Iran has unveiled the "world's first AI-guided" cruise missile, the Tehran Times reports. Shown to the world during a handing-over ceremony, the “Abu Mahdi” cruise missiles were officially presented to the Iranian Navy and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The missile has an alleged range of around 621 miles (1,000 km) and has been developed domestically to strengthen Iranian Naval and Army capabilities.

According to reports, the missile was developed by military experts from the Aerospace Industries Organization (AIO). This organization is a high-tech complex based in Tehran and is subordinate to the Iranian Defense Ministry.

AI-controlled cruise missile

Being artificial intelligence controlled, the “Abu Mahdi” missile is touted to provide pinpoint accuracy while delivering "devastating force." It can also allegedly avoid marine terrain and penetrate an opponent’s air defense systems. Like conventional cruise missiles, “Abu Mahdi” can travel at relatively low altitudes to evade radar and change its direction and height during flight at will.

The "Abu Mahdi" missile's warhead is enormous, capable of destroying various vessels, frigates, and destroyers by hitting them from multiple angles, explains the Tehran Times. This new missile has a robust integrated navigation system and a powerful motor, allowing it to be launched from deep within Iranian territory to target mobile naval units. Each "Abu Mahdi" launch system can efficiently prepare and launch multiple missiles with different trajectories from mobile and fixed launchers.

According to the commander of the IRGC Navy, Rear Admiral Ali Reza Tangsiri, the new long-range naval cruise missile will make the enemy's aircraft carriers ineffective by mandating that they stay at least 1,243 miles (2,000 km) away from the country's shores. During the event, Rear Admiral Tangsiri emphasized that the new missile's primary objective was to prevent the enemy from approaching the Iranian coast.

“We can fire the Abu Mahdi missile from deep inside the country. The missile has a dual seeker and performs successfully against the enemy’s electronic warfare,” Tangsiri explained. 

According to his statement, if an Iranian military vessel travels 621 miles (1,000 km) away from the country's coasts and launches the "Abu Mahdi" missile, the enemy's aircraft carrier will have no choice but to retreat 621 miles (1,000 km) to avoid the long-range cruise missile. As a result, the fighter jets on the aircraft carrier will become ineffective.

He also explained that the missile could be launched from a vessel or a coastal launch pad, track multiple targets, and strike from various directions. “Since the missile has a very low service ceiling and a very long range, it could be hardly tracked,” Rear Admiral Tangsiri remarked.

Difficult to track

Iran's recent missile announcement is believed to be a response to the actions of the United States in the region. As The Jerusalem Post points out, it remains unclear how these missiles will perform in combat as they have never been tested. Additionally, the ranges and capabilities that Iran claims these missiles possess can not be verified. The proclaimed use of AI for guidance in the new command and control systems and radar evasion is also not proven.

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