Iran Is Building Air Defenses Against Stealth Aircraft

Part two

Iran Is Building Air Defenses Against Stealth Aircraft Iran Is Building Air Defenses Against Stealth Aircraft

WIB air October 23, 2017

Read part one. The repeated use of same or similar designations for different radar and missile systems has created the impression that Iranian air-defense... Iran Is Building Air Defenses Against Stealth Aircraft

Read part one.

The repeated use of same or similar designations for different radar and missile systems has created the impression that Iranian air-defense development is a chaotic mess.

In fact, projects are proceeding along four main lines.

  1. The overhaul and upgrade of MIM-23B I-HAWK, S-200/SA-5, SA-6, SA-11 and SA-17.
  2. The development of advanced variants of some of the older systems, including the MIM-23B I-HAWK/Mersad and S-200/Sayyad-2.
  3. The invention of new, stand-alone systems such as the Talash, itself a further development of the S-200/Sayyad-2 combination.
  4. And, finally, the integration of all old and new systems.
The Hafez fire-control radar of the Talash-3 missile system. Roohollah Vahdati photo

Four main families of systems benefit from the heaviest investment.

  1. Sagheb Thagheb. A licensed version of the Chinese HQ-7 surface-to-air missile plus its Ya-Zahra-1/2/3, Talash-1 and Herz-9 variants.
  2. Shahin. The locally-manufactured copy of the American MIM-23B I-HAWK system. Iranian variants include the Shalamcheh, Ghader Mersad and Hafez.
  3. Sayyad-1. A licensed Chinese HQ-2 missile, which Tehran has further developed into the Sayyad-1A by adding an infrared seeker, and then into the Mehrab — incorporating elements of the American RIM-66B — and its follow-up variants Sayyad-2, Sayyad-2M, Sayyad-3 and Sayyad-4.
  4. Taer-1/Ra’ad-1, a wheeled variant of the Russian SA-6 that Iran developed with Chinese help, plus the Taer-2A and Taer-2B wheeled SA-17 launchers and the Sadid-630, long-range variant of the Taer-2B.

The original Talash was a particularly interesting system, as it was essentially a combination of the Soviet-made S-200/SA-5 Gammon and overhauled, U.S.-made RIM-66B Standard missiles, a.k.a. the Sayyad-2.

However, by 2014, an entirely new configuration — the Talash-3 — appeared that shared very few similarities with its Soviet and Russian origins.

Surprisingly enough, this included an entirely new electronically-scanned-array surveillance radar designated Qadir, a new fire-control radar with the designation Hafez, an entirely new command post and a launcher with four containers for Sayyad-2 missiles.

By late 2017, enough equipment for at least two Talash-3 sites is known to have been delivered. Considering the apparent dependence of the Talash-3 upon 40-year-old missiles of U.S. origin, it’s possible that no more will be forthcoming.

Around the same time, the Iranians introduced into service their entirely new Identification Friend or Foe radio-transponder system, which was necessary because existing U.S.- and Russian-designed IFF systems were compromised — and because Iran needed an IFF that would be compatible with newly-designed air-defense gear.

At top — the test-firing of a Sayyad-2 missile. Hossein Heidarpour photo. Above — visual comparison between a red Sayyad-3 missile and a Sayyad-4. Although resembling the U.S.-designed RIM-66B Standard, both are actually of new design. Photo via ACIG

Outmatching the S-300?

The emergence of the Talash-3 represented the next step in the development of the Iranian air defenses — an entirely new, long-range SAM system that would offer a working alternative in the case Moscow never delivered the S-300s it had promised.

This alternative to the S-300 fell under a program with the Iranian designation Bavar-373.

The history of Bavar-373 can be traced back to September 2011, when – citing Iran’s “scientific and technological progress” and the cooperation between the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Khatam Al Anbia Air Defense Command, local industry and academic centers – Tehran’s propaganda machine announced the development of an indigenous alternative to the S-300 system.

Service-entry for the Bavar-373 was originally slated for 2016. In 2017, it was obvious that the Bavar-373 had fallen behind schedule. Nevertheless, its most important components began emerging in 2014.

They include no fewer than three entirely different radar systems – including a new fire-control radar designated Meraj-4 – plus Sayyad-4 missiles of a new design.

Launch containers for the Sayyad-4 missiles of the Bavar-373 SAM system. Photo via ACIG

Redundant defenses

Reportedly based on the Hafez radar developed for the Talash-3, the Meraj is a very interesting piece of machinery. In contrast to the horn-fed passive electronically-scanned arrays of the Russian S-300 and S-400 and the U.S.-made MIM-104 Patriot – all of which depend on the brute force of their electromagnetic output – the Meraj-4 boasts direct-fed solid-state modules.

At least as interesting are the launch containers for the Sayyad-4 missiles which, although still generally similar to the RIM-66B, were completely re-designed and could now be manufactured in Iran.

The Iranians opted for U.S.-style “hot” containers instead of Russian-style “cold” containers that eject missiles with help of pressurized air before their motors ignite.

All the components of the Bavar-373 system are installed on Zafar eight-by-eight and Zoljanah 10-by-10 trucks — and are thus mobile, too.

It’s becoming clear what are the Iranians actually doing — namely, building diverse, redundant air defenses against stealth aircraft and missiles.

Read part three.