In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Grande Strategy

Iranian S-300 Look-alike Ready for Testing

Picutre reads "Yes We Can" on the side of the truck. Some friendly banter for Orator Obama to consider.
by GrandeStrategy Staff

The Islamic Republic of Iran has developed a long-range surface to air missile defense system (LR-SAMs). This system is remarked to be entering a testing phase. The missile system was developed after Russia refused to sell S-300PMU-1 systems, considered the best long range SAMs in the world. The Iranian design looks similar to the HQ-9 which is a Chinese attempt copying heavily from earlier model S-300s. If the Iranians systems are remotely comparable to the HQ-9, they will have made a giant leap in technology and would likely provide credible air defense for Iran in case of a conflict with the United States and Israel.

Iran has received some S-300 systems through backdoor channels. However, the technology is exceedingly difficult to master, with even the United States lagging behind Russia in this particular sector.

Brigadier Genenal Mohammad Hassan Mansourian said that the "Systems similar to S-300 will soon undergo test firing and field modification while other long-range systems are also being designed and developed."

This appears to be a very intriguing statement. Firstly, if a LR-SAM has been successfully developed, why would other systems be developed? Perhaps he is hinting at the other sub-systems such as EW, radar, communication, launch platform and other integration subsystems that go into a complete LR-SAM system. This in turn can be integrated into a integrated air defense system (IADS) that can include locally designed short and medium range missile systems.

Another possible interpretation is that these are poorly designed and manufactured systems that are closer to dummy missile systems and more real products are going to require further time and effort. We must understand that there are only five countries that have mastered the manufacturing of such systems: the United States, Israel, Russia, Japan and China. Iran is an unlikely new entrant into this club. Iran however, has shown surprising ingenuity and has, for instance, simplified the launch module of the S-300 and HQ-9 design.

Our expert opinion suggests that the system is a real system, heavily borrowing from the S-300 models imported and Chinese HQ-9s  (if available.) There are no indications that China has supplied Iran with HQ-9s, which would effectively solve the problem. At GrandeStrategy, we have advocated that China supply Iran with these systems.  The Iranian system is probably nowhere near as capable both in range and effectiveness to be compared with the S-300. Nor is it likely that the important subsystems such as radar and EW are comparable. 

What radar systems are to be included and what other shorter range missile systems can complement the longer ranged missile is another question. The Flap Lid, Clam Shell, Tin Shield and Big Bird radars that complement the actual missile system of the S-300 are critical. 

Any reasonable cruise missile defense would require a Big Bird, or a Tin Shield type radar. There are pictures of a Big Bird-like radar in the Iranian inventory. Another is of a low band radar system that can track low observable (stealth) targets. Again, there is a big question mark on how effective these systems are.

Our guestimate would be as follows:

Long-Range missile: 60-80 km approx.
Medium Range missile: 30-35 km (probably a Hawk-based Mersad)
CLAM SHELL Type: 120 km
BIG BIRD Type: 200 km
FLAP LID Type: 120 km

If such a system can be integrated and operationalized, coupled with the Tor-M1s and other air defense assets, Iran can build a formidable air defense network and make a "military option" for the West a far less rosy scenario. However, if the system is presently in testing, it may not see operational service in decent numbers for at least 2-4 years more. 

Our assessment remains the same as before; Iran needs to buy HQ-9s at the earliest. Such a purchase is of the utmost importance for defending Iran. 

Right: Big Bird Type?

Vision Without Glasses


Anonymous said...

"Iran has received some S-300 systems through backdoor channels. However, the technology is exceedingly difficult to master, with even the United States lagging behind Russia in this particular sector."

If us is trouble copying such technology how could iran done it .with this missile if iran can do somthing would be nice to see but still difficult to believe irans capability .

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