Iran Preparing to Launch Air Defense System More Advanced than S-300

News Brief — June 1, 2014

The Zoljanah heavy duty military truck thought to be designed to carry the Bavar 373 air defence system. Click to enlarge

The Zoljanah heavy duty tactical truck thought to have been designed to carry the Bavar 373 air defence system. Click to enlarge

The deputy commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (IRGC), Brig.-Gen. Hossein Salami said on Saturday that Iran was preparing to launch an air-defence system more advanced than the Russia’s S-300.
“An air defense system more advanced than what they didn’t supply to us due to their strategic interests went on display in the IRGC’s recent exhibition,” Salami told Iran’s Fars news.
In 2007 Russia agreed on the terms of a sale of the S-300 with Iran. However, following pressure on Russia from the U.S. and Israel the sale stalled and in 2010 the then Russian President Medvedev signed a decree banning it altogether.
Had it gone ahead Iran would now be armed with one of the world’s most feared air defence systems.
Described as a ‘game changer’ by defence industry analysts, the S-300 is entirely mobile and can be deployed within 5 minutes. Once operational it’s capable of tracking up to 100 airborne targets simultaneously and can engage 12, 24 or 36 of the targets at a time, depending on the particular S-300 model involved.
Having seen how the 2003 invasion of Iraq opened with a sustained air campaign, Tehran knew that capable air defences were an absolute priority. So with the failure of Russia to fulfil its part of the S-300 agreement, Iran redoubled its efforts to develop its air defences.
Since then Iran has unveiled a growing range of new air defence systems. Including medium range anti-aircraft systems like the Raad and the Sayyad II, low to mid range systems like the Mersad and short range systems like the Ya Zahra and the Herz-9.
In addition Iran has also made significant advances with another key component in its air defences, its radars. In the last year or so Iran has unveiled a variety of new locally developed radar systems. Including mobile radar systems, long-range radar systems and the more advanced passive phased array radar systems.
In all Iran has made significant progress with air defence technology but one key element is still being developed, its long range air defences.
According to some reports the Bavar 373, a long range air defence system and Iran’s answer to Russia’s S-300, will only be ready in 2016. Although the vehicle that will carry the Bavar 373 has already taken part in marches in Tehran (pictured above).
So we are at a loss to know what Brig.-Gen. Hossein Salami was referring to when he spoke at the IRGC exhibition. Intriguingly he said that the new system would not be publicly displayed, but would “remain confidential” for now.
Is this system a prototype of the Bavar 373 or another weapon entirely? Or could it be that Iran is preparing to deploy the Bavar 373 ahead of its announced completion date, ready to catch potential air strikes by surprise?
Even without the Bavar 373, Iran still has an increasingly formidable air defence network. That maybe one of the reasons why Israel and the U.S. haven’t launched air strikes as they did on Syria and Iraq. Not only would it invite Iranian missile counter-strikes on Israel and U.S. bases in the region, there’s also no guarantee that U.S. and/or Israeli warplanes and cruise missiles could successfully penetrate Iran’s air defences.

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