Iranian experts head to Russia, to look at replacement for S-300 missile system

News Brief — Jan 13, 2014

Iran will to send a delegation to Russia to discuss a substitute for S-300 air defence shield, an Iranian legislator revealed on Monday.
Regarded as something of a “game-changer”, the S-300 anti-aircraft system was at one time considered one of the most potent weapons in Russia’s arsenal.
Russia and Iran originally signed a contract for the sale and delivery of five S-300 advanced ground-to-air missile systems back in 2007.
Following pressure from the U.S. and Israel however, Russia delayed delivery of the S-300 to Tehran; until in 2010 the deal was finally cancelled by the then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

The Antei-2500. Click to enlarge

In response Iran filed a $4bln lawsuit against Russia in the international arbitration court in Geneva, which is currently pending review.
In an effort to have the lawsuit dropped, Russia offered Iran the Tor anti-aircraft systems as replacement. However, as Iran already has the Tor system in service that offer was rejected by Tehran.
Nonetheless, Russia has other anti-aircraft system with which to tempt Tehran. Some of these — including the S-400 and the Antei-2500 — are more advanced and capable than the older S-300 and might be better suited to Iran’s needs.
Consequently an Iranian delegation is preparing to leave for Moscow shortly to assess what weapons systems are on offer.
In recent years Iran has made great headway in developing its own defence industry. In the face of Western arms embargoes Tehran has fielded a range of locally developed weapons: including, tanks, fighter jets, attack helicopters and naval frigates.
Having watched the Western invasion of Iraq, which was spearheaded by a massive air campaign, Iran has put special emphasis on the development of anti-aircraft systems.
This has resulted in a range of locally developed anti-aircraft systems. Including anti-aircraft guns, both towed and self-propelled; anti-aircraft missile systems, both short and medium range missile systems, including an advanced and updated version of the S-200 the Sayyad-2, which reportedly impressed visiting Russian defence experts.
In addition Iran has made major advances in radar technology, a field that is crucial to air defence, resulting in a variety of locally developed radar systems. Among these have been phased array radars, passive radars, long-range radars and over the horizon radars.
Iran has also reportedly acquired some four S-300 systems, two from Belarus and two from some other source. Nonetheless if Iran was able to obtain even more advanced air defence systems, such as the Antei-2500, it would present planners of potential air strikes on the country’s nuclear facilities with serious problems.
Such air strikes would be difficult at it is, although not impossible. However, if Iran were to acquire even more advanced air defence systems, such air strikes would begin to assume deadly dimensions for those air crews involved.
Crucially, if the Iranians were to choose the Antei-2500, otherwise known as the S-300VM, they would be arming themselves with a system that is optimised to counter America’s current weapon of choice; in so far as the Antei-2500 is the ideal counter to ballistic cruise missiles.

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