Iran is developing a new, more advanced anti-aircraft system, the country's defense minister said Sunday on Iranian national television.

Ahmad Vahidi said the new Mersad, or Ambush, air defense system would be able to hit modern aircraft at low and medium altitudes.

According to a photo released by Iran's Defense Ministry, the Mersad will launch Iran's Shahin missiles, a local version of the 1970s-era US-manufactured Hawk missile.

The Hawk missile has a range 24 kilometers with a 119-pound warhead and was sold the Iran before the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Iran has been looking to upgrade its air defenses, especially as Israel has refused to rule out an airstrike over concerns that Teheran is developing nuclear weapons — a charge it denies.

Iran ordered Russia's advanced S-300 air defense system in 2007, but it has yet to be delivered, allegedly due to technical glitches. However, many believe the delay stems from international opposition to the sale.



The S-300 missiles are capable of shooting down aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missile warheads at ranges of over 145 kilometers and at altitudes of about 90,000 feet.

On Friday, Iran declared that it had successfully tested advanced third-generation centrifuges capable of much faster enrichment than those currently in use at the Natanz nuclear facility. The domestically-built centrifuges were announced during a ceremony marking Iran's National Day of Nuclear Technology.

Teheran, which began a military self-sufficiency program in 1992, frequently makes announcements about new advances in military technology that cannot be independently verified.

Jpost.com staff contributed to this report.

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