Iran improves air defenses amidst rising tensions - report

As tensions brewed between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Iran claims to improve its air defenses, significantly increasing its range of coverage.

AN IRANIAN FLAG is pictured near in a missile during a military drill, with the participation of Iran’s air defense units in October.  (West Asia News Agency/Reuters) (photo credit: WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY/REUTERS)
AN IRANIAN FLAG is pictured near in a missile during a military drill, with the participation of Iran’s air defense units in October. (West Asia News Agency/Reuters)
(photo credit: WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY/REUTERS)

Iran claims to have unveiled a new air defense missile for its Bavar 373 air defense system. This is an upgraded missile that it calls the Sayad 4B, a long-range air defense missile.

Iranian pro-government media announced the missile Sunday and said the missile had passed a test and hit a target and that the system can now detect threats in a range of 450km and confront those threats at ranges between 300km and 400km. It claimed that this missile was used with the Bavar’s radar. 

Several weeks ago Iran’s regime claimed that it had extended the range of the system to some 300km. At the time the reports at Mahr news and other sites said that “Iranian engineers are working to increase the range of the Bavar-373 long-range road-mobile surface-to-air missile system to 300 km, a senior Iranian Army commander said on Sunday.”  

The new report on November 6 says Iran has unveiled the “Sayyad 4B” which has a range of 300km. Iran says it tested the system at distances beyond 300km.

“The Iranian air defense system managed to detect the target at a range of more than 450 kilometers with its optimized radar and tracked the target at a distance of around 405 km before detonating it with Sayyad 4B,” the report says.

Iran's Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi (3rd R) walks during a ceremony to unveil Iran's medium range anti-aircraft air defense system Mersad (Ambush) in Tehran, April 11, 2010. (credit: REUTERS/VAHID ALAEE/DEFENCE MINISTRY/HANDOUT)Iran's Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi (3rd R) walks during a ceremony to unveil Iran's medium range anti-aircraft air defense system Mersad (Ambush) in Tehran, April 11, 2010. (credit: REUTERS/VAHID ALAEE/DEFENCE MINISTRY/HANDOUT)

The missile is fired from a typical air defense set-up, from the back of a large bed on a truck, paired with another vehicle that carries the radar. The reports say the missile uses “hybrid solid fuel.”

It is unclear what exactly the capabilities are because the reports say that the detection range is now some 450km, but tracking radar only works out to about 400km.

“The employment of Sayyad 4B also means that the range of the Iranian air defense system missiles has been extended to 300 km and the altitude of engagement has increased from 27 to 32 km,” Tasnim news in Iran says.

What does Iran hope to achieve with the upgraded air defenses?

Overall this system is designed to increase the range of Iran’s air defenses and project power. Iran wants to show it can cover the Persian Gulf and reach into the Gulf of Oman, as well as protect its northern border with Azerbaijan and the border with the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Iran wants to show that despite protests, it continues to make headway on weapons, including missiles and radars. It wants more Russian assistance on some of these programs, even as it is exporting drones to Russia, a fact Iran confirmed over the weekend, according to an article in the Associated Press.