The REAL Target of Iran’s Missiles Revealed (Hint: It Was a Direct Hit)

When I looked at the satellite imagery of targets Iran just hit with missiles, my blood ran cold.

Fortunately, Iran didn’t kill or injure anyone with its recent strikes in Iraq. But the missiles did hit their “aim points.” In fact, they landed exactly where intended!

And those missiles carried a message. The long-term U.S. Middle East strategy is obsolete!

We definitely aren’t getting the whole Iran-story from our politicians, our generals or the media. I suppose they don’t want to scare you…

But I’ll show you photos below, and tell you what’s happening.

Read on…

You know the basics. Last week, President Trump droned and killed Iran’s General Soleimani.

This week, in reply, Iran fired 16 or 17 missiles at two bases in Iraq that host U.S. troops in staging areas. But there were no U.S. casualties. (Whew!)

We can all “stand down” now, according to Trump. Because no one seeks a new war in the Middle East. Right?

Yes and no…

Certainly, the U.S. has no stomach for a major new war in the Middle East. Not with Iran. Not with anyone else. Indeed, the U.S. political dynamic trends towards “get out,” despite efforts from certain quarters – the armchair Clausewitzes and Beltway-Napoleons – to remain garrisoned over there.

It’s probably fair to say that Iran doesn’t want a war with the U.S. either. Iran has deep financial problems and a restive populace. Iran cannot “afford” a war in any sense of the term.

At the same time, there’s plenty bad blood between Iran and the U.S.; longstanding political animosities that have not abated.

Meanwhile, “hard revenge has just begun,” according to Iran’s Tasnim News Agency.1

But first, the disclaimer. I do not speak on behalf of the U.S. government, its Department of Defense or the U.S. Navy.

Now… Here’s a satellite photo of al Assad Air Base in Iraq; the primary Iranian target zone. There are many structures there to bomb, but Iran only aimed at a handful; and those are in an American-dominated part of the base.


Courtesy, Planet Labs Inc. and Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

The recent Iranian attack was not a barrage of missiles; not “steel rain,” as the saying goes. From the image, you can see five missile impact spots, circled.

First impression; the Iranians hit five “things.” That is, Iranian bombardiers – the target-pickers – hit five spots, apparently exactly where they aimed. This was not just “shoot and pray.” It’s aimed fire. Indeed, it’s well-aimed fire.

Well-aimed? Absolutely… And I discussed missile guidance systems – and related matters – in Whiskey & Gunpowder here.

Here’s another photo of one particular hit, expanded…


Courtesy, Planet Labs Inc. and Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

You see five structures with an impact point smack in the middle. That’s not luck. It’s no accident. Call it a bulls-eye. The Iranians hit where they aimed. With a missile. From over 300 miles away. Whooosh-boom!

The structures are large tents, each about 50 feet by 120 feet; plastic covering over steel poles. You can store an aircraft or two in there, or about 8 – 10 tractor-trailer rigs. From that one impact, it’s evident that anything in the other tents is likely wrecked or damaged by shock wave and flying debris.

But wait a minute… These Iranian missiles are advertised as having warheads in the scale of 500 to 1,000 pounds of high explosive. Where’s the crater? Where’s the blast zone? I assure you; 1,000 pounds of explosive will blow the bejeezus out of any area of impact. There won’t be any plastic tenting anymore.

So another point to ponder… Were these Iranian missiles downgraded? Was the explosive package removed? It looks as if we’re just seeing an impact crater from the “kinetic” energy of a falling missile. No kaboom!

Here’s another image of the same area, with before-after aspects…


Courtesy, Planet Labs Inc. and Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

You can see the before-after of the five tents, as discussed above. And note the area on the lower left… Another structure hit and demolished to smithereens. But no blast damage to the tent structures right next to it.

Again, bulls-eye. But not quite what you’d expect from an exploding warhead. Another de-armed shot, apparently.

From U.S. reports, a few Iranian missiles may have “failed” in flight. And perhaps they really failed. Or perhaps it’s a polite way of saying that they were shot down, but we don’t want to reveal that particular capability.

Here’s what we know. Iran’s missiles traveled over 300 miles. At least five penetrated any anti-missile defense. The Iranian missiles hit precise aim points. The impact zones are substantial, but don’t show evidence of large-scale explosive bursts.

What should we be thinking about here? Guidance systems, of course. Iran has better technology than many U.S. people want to acknowledge.

And Iran is absolutely sending a “message” to the U.S., its military planners and politicians. Meaning what?

Well… with the recent missile attacks, Iranian leaders were not so much trying to blow stuff up; although the missiles certainly did demolish some structures.

No, the Iranians were demonstrating capability!

Think about that…  Demonstrating! Capability!

The Iranians made a combat-debut of “tactical”-range missiles against American targets. Iran’s missiles covered well over 300 miles, and hit aim points within a meter or so of accuracy. The warheads may have been de-armed, so as to limit injury; clearly a de-risking and de-escalatory action by Iran.

I suspect that Iranian planners did NOT want U.S. casualties; or Iraqi casualties, or injury to anyone else. They just wanted to shoot missiles, hit exact targets and show – to the U.S., and to the world – that they have the ability to cause serious damage when and where they choose.

President Trump waited almost an entire day after the missile hits to address the nation. Clearly, wheels were turning in the U.S. military pipeline, from field level to Pentagon to White House.

Here’s what President Trump and his array of generals both said; and also, what he/they didn’t tell us during his White House address…


President Trump discusses Iran missile response. NYT

Iran shot missiles at U.S. forces, but no one was killed or injured. Damage was light. Our side had foreknowledge of the attacks, and people took shelter. We can “stand down,” in a manner of speaking; but remain on alert.

Much of this mess did not develop under Trump’s presidency. President Obama handed Trump a miserable hand; and President Bush handed Obama a train-wreck of policy.

But keep in mind that Iran has been preparing for many years to reach this state of affairs. Iran runs a long-term, well thought-out program of applying its national resources to vital national interests.

What President Trump left unspoken was that Iran has about 50,000 of these missiles. Clearly, the systems have range to hit every significant target in the Middle East region; Iraq, Persian Gulf littoral, Saudi Arabia and more.

Iranian technology – the propulsion and guidance systems – is quite good; the Iranians can hit where they aim.

In other words, every significant fixed site in the Middle East is now subject to attack by ballistic missiles that clearly work. Every airfield, every port, every fuel storage area, every troop and equipment staging area. That is, every “rear” area is now a front-line battle zone.

Of course, Saudi Arabia already had a taste of this capability last fall. Iranian missile technology made precise hits against Saudi oil infrastructure. So, every significant “economic” site is also a target, and that means oil production, transport, refining and loading facilities.

The military implication – and this is truly “strategic” level – is that the U.S. will never again be able to move its army or air force into position in the Middle East, to stage another war such as invading Iraq in 1991 and later in 2003.

Every runway, every hangar, every airplane, every tank, every truck, every tent, every outhouse is now at risk. And every naval pier – and refueling or re-arming site – is also at risk; because even ships tied to a pier (or anchored out!) can be targeted exactly.

What does Iran want? It’s no secret… Iran wants U.S. military forces out of the Middle East. And they just demonstrated capability to rain total, military hell upon any U.S. component that stops anywhere long enough to become a latitude-longitude point in the targeting matrix.

This is a U.S. strategic conundrum of the first order!

From this moment forward, every U.S. asset in the Middle East is a very real Iranian target. There are no “rear” or safe areas. Iran has technology to drop missiles where they wish.

The U.S. response can be chest-pounding, saber-rattling, show-of-force bravado… But the truth is that any U.S. military option in the Middle East has just become infinitely more complex. If any asset takes up position anywhere, it’s a target in any battle-loop.

So, what does the U.S. do? Just pack up all our gear and sail away? Hand the keys over to Iran?

No… That’s not going to happen. But the prospect of remaining in place – of business as usual, or just like in the olden days – sure does hold elevated risk now, too.

Our politicians and generals are going to have to earn their paychecks on this one. Because those Iranian missiles hit their aim points in more ways than most people have yet absorbed.

The target of Iran’s missile shots – the real aim point – was not a collection of tents. It was the strategic foundation of the long U.S. presence in the Middle East.

On that note, I rest my case.

That’s all for now…  Thank you for subscribing and reading.

Best wishes…

Byron King

Byron King
Managing Editor, Whiskey & Gunpowder

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1 “Hard Revenge Has Just Begun” Tasnim News Agency

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Byron King

A Harvard-trained geologist and former aide to the United States Chief of Naval Operations, Byron King is our resident gold and mining expert, and we are proud to have him on board as the managing editor of Whiskey & Gunpowder.

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