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It's Tuesday, November 21st. Welcome to the PDB Afternoon Bulletin. I'm Mike Baker, your eyes and ears on the world stage. Let's get briefed. Iran is saber-rattling over an untested hypersonic missile that the regime proudly showed off at a weapons display this past weekend. We'll discuss the regional implications and whether or not the new missile technology is functional. The US launches another strike on Iran-backed militants as a rift builds within the Biden administration over just how to deter the growing threat. But first, our afternoon spotlight. Iran has unveiled a new version of their alleged hypersonic missile, which they dubbed the Fatah-2, meaning Conqueror in Persian. Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamini, personally oversaw the weapon's display on Sunday, which was almost certainly meant to send a message to Israel and America regarding the regime's supposed military might. The new missile, which is equipped with a hypersonic glide vehicle or HGV, can allegedly travel it up to 15 times the speed of sound, and that's technically considered anything over Mach 5. It's reportedly an updated version of Fatah-1, Iran's first hypersonic missile that the regime revealed back in June. Now, why is this advancement notable? Well, it comes down to one word, maneuverability.


We've touched on this before here on the PDB when discussing Russian military developments. The hypersonic glide vehicle is carried by an ICBM to a suborbital altitude where it detaches from the missile and navigates to the intended target. Now, critically, the HGV, if operational, would be able to perform substantial evasive maneuver at hypersonic speeds, making it extremely hard, if not impossible, for current defense systems to shoot it down. But are these systems actually functional? Obserbers of the Iranian missile program, they have their doubts. For one, the capabilities of the original Fetah missile remain in question. Aside from claims by Iranian military officials, we have no real evidence that the weapon is operational or has even been successfully tested. In June, the regime claimed it had a range of roughly 870 miles, and they promised to improve on the design to increase the range to more than 1200 miles, which would put Israel within reach. Despite the weapon's display this week, the regime did not disclose the range of the Fatatah 2 or release any video of the Fatatah 2 being launched. With only the word of the Itola, it's hard to know if the Iranian regime truly has operational hypersonic technology in its arsenal.


Now, the timing of the announcement, that's also worth considering. As the Israel-Hamas conflict rages on, the regime is likely eager to convince the world that their missile capabilities have reached a new level of advancement. But that being said, as mentioned, we don't know the truth around their hypersonic missile claims, but any changes in the Iranian arsenal, they do demand our attention. We should remember that Iran does have an expansive missile program, which they export to their numerous proxy groups throughout the Middle East. As we've discussed frequently on the PDB, Israel and the US have been regularly targeted by Iranian-backed proxies since the seventh of October Hamas attacks, and it's likely at the direction of the IRGC. Israel shot down numerous ballistic missiles fired by Iran-backed Houtie militants in Yemen on November 14th. That followed an incident on October 19th when the USS Karnim intercepted a barrage of missiles fired from Yemen over the Red Sea as they headed towards Israel. These missiles were very likely supplied by the Iranian regime. Iranian-backed proxies also continue to target American forces in Iraq and Syria with repeated drone and rocket attacks. Flexing their missile technology, as these provocations continue unabated, suggests that the Iranian regime has little fear about facing substantial repercussions from the US over their behavior.


Given the Biden administration granted Iran access to roughly 10 billion in funds being held in escrow accounts in Iraq last week, Iran's leaders may have good reason to feel confident. Now, whether Iran's boasts about the Fatah-2 capabilities are based on fact or fiction, a growing concern here should be Iran's blossoming romance with Russia. Putin has increasingly relied on the Iranian regime for hardware for his ongoing invasion in Ukraine, particularly drones. In return, it is very likely that Iran has been pressing for Russian expertise and support with their weapons development programs, including their nuclear efforts and possibly the advancement of their HGV technology. Coming up after the break, the US responds to an attack on serviceman in Iraq as the Biden administration faces a growing internal rift over their handling of Iranian aggression. I'll be right back.


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Welcome back. Us military officials have confirmed that American forces conducted an air strike on a vehicle near the Al-Assad Air Base in Iraq, a site that hosts US troops. This strike resulted in the elimination of several militia members believed to be affiliated with Iran. The airstrike comes after an attack earlier today on Al-Assad Air Base, located in the Western Anbar province of Iraq. That attack led to minor injuries and some damage to the base's infrastructure. Now, this latest attack and retaliatory strike comes as President Biden faces growing dissent within the ranks of the Department of Defense over what is seen as a weak response to the continued Iranian aggression against US forces in the Middle East. According to a recent report by The Washington Post, the question echoing through the corridors of the Pentagon is about deterrence or the apparent lack of it. With over 150 attacks attributed to Iranian proxies since the current administration took office, and with more than 60 of those in just the past four weeks, it seems the strategy to deter future aggression is falling short. There's no clear definition of what we're trying to deter, one defense official told the post, and that official added, quote, Are we trying to deter future Iranian attacks like this?


Well, that's clearly not working. The frustration from the DOD is understandable. Look, since mid-October, US personnel stationed in Iraq and Syria have been endured an onslaught of rocket and drone attacks with 61 separate incidents tallied. While the majority of these attacks have been intercepted or failed to reach their targets, they have not been without consequence. More than 60 US service members have sustained injuries, ranging from shrapnel wounds to traumatic brain injuries. In response, the Biden administration has executed three rounds of retaliatory strikes in Syria, targeting Iranian-supported groups, in addition to the strike that we saw today in Iraq. Although the strikes have reportedly taken out weapon stoppiles, command centers, and training facilities, they've done virtually nothing to stop the attacks, which resume almost without pause after US counter strikes. The concerns among defense officials is that if the current pattern continues unchecked, it could be just a matter of time before we face the loss of American lives. Obviously, the Biden administration fears escalating the current conflict in the Middle East. That's understandable. But apparently, Iran doesn't have the same concern. The Iranian regime has watched the various conciliatory measures by the White House over the past three years as the administration has attempted to rebuild a relationship with Iran and has concluded that they will not pay a price for their ongoing and increasingly aggressive actions.


The fact that the White House did just unfreeze $10 billion for Iran this past week will likely be interpreted by the regime and the IRGC as a further sign of weakness or at a minimum, a lack of resolve. That, my friends, is the PDB afternoon bulletin for Tuesday, 21th of November. If you have any questions or comments, reach out to me at pdb@thefirstTV. Com. I'm Mike Baker. I'll be back tomorrow. Until then, stay informed. Stay safe. Stay cool.