Russia’s defense minister has eyed a new Iranian-built missile during a visit to the country on Wednesday, as Moscow promises relations with Tehran are “reaching new highs” amid the war effort in Ukraine.
An unspecified cruise missile with a range of around 1,500 kilometers, or 930 miles, was spotted in footage of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visiting Iranian military facilities, according to a clip posted to X, formerly Twitter.
The missile “appears identical” to the Quds-3 missile used by Tehran-backed Houthi forces in Yemen, the unofficial “Iran Defense” account wrote, adding such a cruise missile “would be well suited to Russia.”
There are very few available details around the development of this missile, and Russia’s possible interest in the technology. But it does look very much like the Quds-3 used in Yemen, which may have been a testing ground for this type of missile, according to military expert David Hambling.
Shoigu visited Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps during his trip to the country this week, and “saw missile weapons and unmanned aerial vehicles, as well as Iranian-made air defense equipment,” the Russian Defense Ministry said. Images and footage from the visit indicate Shoigu also viewed Iran’s “loitering” anti-aircraft munition, known as the 358 missile.
Iran has been developing its missile capabilities, and in early August, Tehran reportedly started testing a new cruise missile with a ramjet engine.
“Like other cruise missiles, the Quds-3 is powered by a small turbofan jet engine, making it much faster than propeller-driven attack drones like the Shahed-136s sold to Russia, and giving it a better chance of getting through defenses,” Hambling told Newsweek.
The Kremlin has courted closer relations with countries such as Iran since the start of the war in Ukraine. Moscow has deployed Tehran-designed Shahed loitering munitions against Ukrainian cities and critical infrastructure, seen as a low-cost way to strike Ukraine, alongside the pricier missile barrages.
In fall 2022, Iran also agreed to supply Russia with more high-tech drones and short-range surface-to-surface ballistic missiles.
One-way attack drones like the Shaheds move much more slowly than cruise missiles, making it easier for air defenses to intercept them.
A smaller price tag than many of the missiles Russia is burning through in Ukraine—such as its Kalibr cruise missiles—will also appeal to Moscow, Hambling argued.
“A low-cost cruise missile would be a useful way for Russia to supplement their dwindling stocks of Kalibrs and other missiles,” he said.
Newsweek has reached out to the Russian and Iranian defense ministries for comment via email.
Western countries have leveled sanctions against both Tehran and Moscow over missile production. “The pressure of sanctions on Russia and Iran is proving to be futile, while Russia-Iran cooperation is reaching new highs,” Shoigu said during a meeting with Iranian Defense Minister Mohammad Reza Ashtiani, according to Russian state news agency Tass.
“The high intensity of meetings confirms our common determination to continue boosting strategic defense partnership,” Shoigu added.
In June, Tehran unveiled what it called the country’s first domestically produced hypersonic missile, the Fattah.
“The precision-guided Fattah hypersonic missile has a range of 1,400 km [870 miles] and it is capable of penetrating all defense shields,” Iranian aerospace chief, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, said in comments reported by Iranian state media. The official said weeks later that the range of the missile could be extended to 2,000 kilometers, or about 1,250 miles.