A state-owned Iranian media outlet has reported on a new Iranian anti-tank missile that bears a striking resemblance to the American-made Sidewinder missile. The Azarakhsh (“Lightning”) anti-tank missile appears identical to the famous Sidewinder air-to-air missile, and may, in fact, be developed from missiles imported before the Iranian revolution in 1979.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps unveiled the Azarakhsh missile for IRGC Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari. Mehr News reports the Azarakhsh weighs 70 kg (155 lbs.) and is 3096 mm long, with a diameter of 127 mm, and a 10 km (6.2 mi) range at a maximum speed of 550m/s.
The missile, which is equipped with a “thermal explorer” (likely an infrared imaging seeker) is carried by Iranian Cobra attack helicopters and used against low-flying aerial targets and ground targets.
From the looks of it—long and narrow, with a set of stubby forward fins and longer tail fins—Azarakhsh is almost identical to the AIM-9 Sidewinder infrared-guided, air-to-air missile. First flown in the 1950s, the Sidewinder has been continuously updated. Today, F-15, F-16, F/A-18, and F-22 Raptor fighters carry the Sidewinder.
The missile has been widely exported during its lifetime, and pre-revolutionary Iran received batches of AIM-9B and AIM-9D Sidewinders to equip its American made F-4, F-5, and F-14 Tomcat fighters. (A third batch of the latest AIM-9H missiles for the F-14s was scheduled but may have never gone through.)
The Azarakhsh is also dimensionally quite close to the AIM-9B. Length is similar, the diameter is identical, and weight is in the ballpark. Iran does have a history of reverse-engineering U.S. military gear sold before the fall of the Shah, such as the other Azarakhsh, a clone of the Northrop F-5 Tiger fighter. The Azarakhsh missile is likely a derivative of the Iranian Air Force’s Fatter air-to-air missile, itself a Sidewinder clone.