Iran announces production of new air defense missile

Iranian state TV on Saturday reported the inauguration of a production line for a new version of an air defense missile.

The report said the missile dubbed Sayyad-3 is an upgrade to previous versions of the missile. Sayyad means “hunter” in Farsi.

The country’s air defense chief, Brig. Gen. Farzad Esmaili, said during a ceremony that the missile is “a completely indigenous technology.”

Iran occasionally announces production of sophisticated homegrown weapons that cannot be independently verified.

Iran announced in December it test-fired Sayyad-3. Its range is 120 kilometers (some 75 miles) and is capable of hitting targets at altitudes of up to 27 kilometers (17 miles).

In 1992 Iran began a military self-sufficiency program under which it produces mortars to missiles and tanks to submarines.

In addition to the Sayyad class of surface-to-air missiles, Iran also possesses the advanced S-300 air defense system, which it acquired following the July 2015 nuclear deal after years of delay.

Russian-made, S-300 long-range missiles at the Fordo nuclear site in central Iran, August 28, 2016.(Screenshot/Press TV)

Iran had been trying to acquire the system for years to ward off repeated threats by Israel to bomb its nuclear facilities, but Russia had held off delivery in line with UN sanctions imposed over the nuclear program.

In March, Iranian state TV announced that the system is now operational.

Last August, state television aired footage of the system being installed around the Fordo nuclear site in a mountain near Qom, south of the capital.

The missile defense system is considered to be one of the most advanced of its kind in the world, offering long-range protection against both aircraft and missiles.

Israel had long sought to block the sale, which analysts say could impede a potential Israeli strike on Tehran’s nuclear facilities. Other officials have expressed concern that the systems could reach Syria and Hezbollah, diluting Israel’s regional air supremacy.

The Israeli Air Force has trained for a scenario in which it would have to carry out strikes in Syria or Iran on facilities defended by the S-300.

In a 2015 interview, IAF commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel said the S-300 was a “significant but not insurmountable challenge” for the IAF.

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