Iran says plans to test fire new guided-bomb soon

TEHRAN Mon Mar 1, 2010 11:18am EST

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TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's air force will soon test a new version of a 2000-pound guided-bomb, a top Iranian military commander said on Monday.

Iran has built up its forces in recent years, developing missiles and other new weapons, ostensibly due to Tehran's concerns about the U.S. military presence neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan.

But Iran, embroiled in a nuclear dispute with the West over its nuclear program, has also threatened Israel and another military commander warned on Sunday that Iranian missiles could target any adversary.

"The 2000-pound Qassed-1 guided-bomb has been mass produced and given to the Air Force ... its new version will be test fired soon," the semi-official Fars news agency quoted Air Force commander-in-chief Hassan Shahsafi as saying.

"The Qassed-2 has a longer range, more accuracy and enjoys more explosive power than its older version," Shahsafi said.

The Qassed (Herald) bomb was first test-fired in 2006 during a large-scale military exercise in Iran.

In February, media reported that Iran officially started production of two new missiles, only three days after it launched a rocket which can carry a satellite.

Iran often makes announcements of progress in its military capabilities, in an apparent attempt to show its readiness to respond to any possible military attack.

(Reporting by Hossein Jaseb; Writing by Reza Derakhshi; Editing by Jon Hemming)

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