Exchange Begins as Competing Stories About Iranian Strikes and Airliner Shoot-Down Reach Media Outlets.
Iranian state television has released new video of preparations and launches of the missile strike on U.S. targets inside Iraq earlier this week. The video surfaced on Russia’s state-funded RT News network after reportedly circulating on Iranian media outlets. It shows preparation of what appears to be one of Iran’s “Shabab” series of surface-to-surface missiles.
The Shabab series of surface-to-surface missiles includes at least four distinct variants, Shabab 1 through 4. Each variant has a different range and payload capabilities. It is possible the version shown in the video is Iran’s Shabab-3, a ballistic missile with a claimed range of approximately 620 miles and a claimed payload in excess of 2,000 pounds according to Iranian claims.
The video shows the missiles in an underground storage facility at an undisclosed location. At least one missile is shown being removed from a storage container and being hoisted into the vertical orientation, possibly for fueling and programming of guidance systems.
The missile preparation video surfaced on Russian media as international news outlets such as the BBC World News, CBS, CNN and others are reporting what social media pundits already suspected: “CBS News has learned U.S. officials are confident that Iran shot down the Ukrainian passenger jet that crashed Wednesday in Tehran, killing all 176 on board”.
Detection of missile launch plumes by space-based U.S. reconnaissance assets called the Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) can detect heat blooms of missile launches around the world and provide advanced early warning of missile launch events. As of January 2018, the U.S. has at least 10 satellites in orbit with SBIRS missile launch detection capability.
Earlier today, the New York Times published a story that said, “The SA-15 launch was detected by the American military’s Space-Based Infrared System, which relies on satellites in various orbits to track launch and flight path of ballistic missiles”.
An American official told @nytimes that two missiles were launched from an Iranian air defense system identified as the Tor M1 (NATO reporting name is SA-15). A working theory is that the video shows the second missile, as @malachybrowne writes here. https://t.co/xFn49ckv9m
— Christiaan Triebert (@trbrtc) January 9, 2020
It is now believed that an SA-15 “Tor” mobile surface-to-air missile system is responsible for the shoot-down of the civilian Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 that crashed just after take-off from Iran’s Imam Khomeini airport in Tehran.