Introduction — Sept 7, 2017
Iranian Air Defense Commander Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili said recently that his forces warned a U2 to leave Iran’s airspace after its air defence systems locked onto the U.S. spy plane.
The episode is another indication of Iran’s growing ability to defend its airspace. Tehran saw how Western air power was crucial in bringing Iraq to its knees and as a result it has put considerable effort into developing its own air defences.
The recent episode involving a U.S. U2 reveals how much progress Iran has made in this direction.
Gary Powers’ U2 was shot down over the Soviet Union in 1960 by a Russian missile while flying at an altitude of 70,500 feet, or just over 13 miles up. Although the U2 has been in service for more than fifty years the high flying U.S. surveillance plane has since been upgraded and can fly even higher now.
However the locally developed Sayyad-3 air defence missile, which recently entered mass production, was still able to threaten the U2 that entered Iranian airspace.
Moreover, the Sayyad-3 air defence missile is but one element in Iran’s emerging air defence network.
Underling its growing sophistication and increased self-reliance, the head of the Revolutionary Guards’ air defences has just announced the successful testing of Iran’s own Bavar 373. Like the Russian S-300, the Bavar 373 is a long range air defence system that Iran claims is more capable than the S-300.
It is in the final phase of testing now and is expected to become operational by the end of March, 2018.
Essentially Iran is putting into place the final components of an integrated nationwide air defence system.
This means that U.S. warplanes will no longer be able to fly with impunity over the Islamic Republic and, as the following article notes, it appears that Iran doesn’t intend to rely solely on Russia for its air defence requirements in future. Ed.
Iran: Production Line Opens for New Sayyad-3 Missile
Michael Rubin — AEI.org Sept 6, 2017
With the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the unfreezing of many Iranian assets and the lifting of some sanctions, Iran has been able to augment its military budget. One of its top priorities appears to be boosting its missile capabilities. According to the excerpted article from Kayhan, a newspaper whose editor is appointed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and which remains close to the Office of the Supreme Leader, Iran is moving ahead with its Sayyad surface-to-air missile line.
The Sayyad-3 appears to be an enhanced version of the Sayyad-2, which was unveiled in November 2013 and is similar to the RIM-66 that pre-revolutionary Iran acquired from the United States in the 1970s. According to the excerpt, Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan inaugurated the production line of the new Sayyad-3 missile which has a 75-mile range and can reach altitudes of 16 miles. If true, this capability puts the Lockheed U-2 within range. Dehghan also reportedly said that the Sayyad-3 uses active radar, semi-active radar, and infrared guidance to maximize its potential against a host of targets and that it would be a component of the Talash-2 air defense system which the Iranian military has yet to unveil publicly. Iranian investment in the Sayyad-3 and the Talash-2 suggests that despite Iran’s purchase of the S-300 (and potential purchase of the S-400) from Russia, Iranian military officials do not want to rely on Russia for air defense.