Iran tests short-range missile amid war games - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

8/20/06-TEHRAN, Iran

Iran tests short-range missile amid war games

Iranian forces leave a helicopter during a training exercise Saturday. Iranian forces leave a helicopter during a training exercise Saturday.

 Iran test-fired a surface-to-surface short-range missile, while a military training plane crashed outside the capital Tehran after catching fire, state-run television reported Sunday.

The missile testing came a day after Iran launched a series of large-scale military maneuvers geared at introducing the country's new defensive doctrine.

"Saegheh, the missile, has a range of between 80 to 250 kilometers," state-run television said. It said the missile was tested in the Kashan desert, about 250 kilometers (155 miles) southeast of the capital of Tehran.

Saegheh means lightning in Farsi.

Authorities said the military plane that crashed on Sunday after catching fire was not taking part in the maneuvers. It did not elaborate.

The broadcast said the plane was making an emergency landing on a highway in northeast Tehran but it crashed after a wing of the plane hit a water reservoir and burst into flames.

The television said the only pilot in the plane parachuted safely.

Iran has routinely held war games over the past two decades to improve its combat readiness and to test equipment such as missiles, tanks and armored personnel carriers.

But the new tests, in the wake of the Lebanon-Hezbollah fighting, seemed certain to create new tensions with the West. (Full story)

State-run television said the missile was built based on domestic know-how, although outside experts say much of the country's missile technology originated from other countries.

State-run TV showed video of 10 missiles being launched from mobile launching pads.

Iran said its new military exercises launched Saturday are being held in 14 of the country's 30 provinces and could last as long as five weeks, the government has said.

The Islamic Republic, which views the United States as an arch foe, is concerned about the U.S. military presence in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan.

It also has expressed worry about Israeli threats to destroy its nuclear facilities, which the West contends could be used to make a bomb but which Iran insists are for civilian uses only.

Iran is already equipped with the Shahab-3 missile, which means "shooting star" in Farsi; it is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. An upgraded version of the ballistic missile has a range of more than 2,000 kilometers and can reach Israel and U.S. forces in the Middle East.

Last year, former Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani said Tehran had successfully tested a solid fuel motor for the Shahab-3, a technological breakthrough for the country's military.

Iran's military test-fired a series of missiles during large-scale war games in the Persian Gulf in March and April, including a missile it claimed was not detectable by radar that can use multiple warheads to hit several targets simultaneously.

After decades of relying on foreign weapons purchases, Iran's military has been working to boost its domestic production of armaments.

Since 1992, Iran has produced its own tanks, armored personnel carriers, missiles and a fighter plane, the government has said. It announced in early 2005 that it had begun production of torpedoes.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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