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Air Defense: Iranian Missiles Decoded
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July 16, 2008: Iran now has something else to worry about. Recent Israeli Air Force exercises near Greece, using over a hundred aircraft, apparently also involved Greek S-300 surface-to-air missile systems. Roughly equivalent to the U.S. Patriot, the Russian built S-300 was known as the SA-10 to NATO, when the system first appeared in the early 1980s. S-300 missiles weigh 1.8 tons each and are 26 feet long and about 20 inches in diameter. The missiles have a range of some 200 kilometers and can hit targets as high as 100,000 feet. The missile has a 320 pound warhead.

Russia sold the S-300 to Cyprus in 1998, but Greece ended up with them to settle a dispute between Cyprus and Turkey (a long story¬Ö). Although the S-300 systems the Iranians have are of more recent design, the Greek systems provided the Israelis with practical experience in dealing with the S-300. Combine that with what Israeli espionage may already know about Iranian air defenses, and the Iranians have to consider the possibility that the Israelis now have the ability to blow right past the S-300 defenses.

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Shirrush    Thank you again,   7/16/2008 6:44:09 AM
Strategypage, for making up stories that somehow bolster the otherwise shrinking credibility of our defense establishment.
What would Israel do without you? You're true friends! Mmmuah!


 
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maruben    From S to C to S   7/16/2008 11:43:18 AM
Russia sold the C-300 to Cyprus in 1998, but Greece ended up with them to settle a dispute between Cyprus and Turkey (a long story?). Although the S-300 systems the Iranians have are of more recent design, the Greek systems provided the Israelis with practical experience in dealing with the S-300.
 
Is C-300 or S-300?
 
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arodrig6       7/16/2008 12:59:00 PM

Russia sold the C-300 to Cyprus in 1998, but Greece ended up with them to settle a dispute between Cyprus and Turkey (a long story?). Although the S-300 systems the Iranians have are of more recent design, the Greek systems provided the Israelis with practical experience in dealing with the S-300.
 

Is C-300 or S-300?



I think they meant to type S-300, but I've seen both used. I suspect it is a transcription ambiguity from the original Russian. Possibly the difference between the phonetic and written (i.e. the sound is 'S' but they Cryilic letter looks like a Roman 'C') - just a guess.
 
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FJV       7/16/2008 1:14:27 PM
A quick google says S300PMU-1 missiles source:
 
 
 

 
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displacedjim       7/16/2008 3:25:33 PM

Is C-300 or S-300?




 
Well, it doesn't really matter in the overall picture, since Iran doesn't have any S-300 SAMs.
 
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Softwar       7/16/2008 4:11:00 PM


Well, it doesn't really matter in the overall picture, since Iran doesn't have any S-300 SAMs.




 

DJim appears to be right - we were able to pin-point a number of SA-10 sites in China and they do have clearly defined construction characteristics.  I have done a survey of Iran and found no such sites at this point.  The only SAM sites I can find are SA-2 sites like this one below at Bandar Abbas.
 
It is possible that the Iranians have not constructed such sites and are using strictly mobile SA-10 systems.  However, this appears to be unlikely given the experience we have with the PLA and the organized nature of a Soviet style IADS.



View Larger Map
 
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displacedjim       7/16/2008 4:33:05 PM
Thanks, Softwar.  To be fair, I'd call the Iranian IADS more of a western-style IADS than a Soviet-style IADS.  We built it for them back in the 1970s, and they have always emphasized fighter intercepts more heavily and looked at SAMs primarily as point-defenses moreso than the typical Soviet-styled IADS.  Granted, they do have some S-200 (SA-5) batteries that give thin strategic-level area coverage over primarily around Tehran, the western, and the Gulf coast areas of their country. 
 
As I've said before, I do not doubt that they'd like to get S-300, and that it appears that they are trying to get S-300, and that they may well at any time convince the Russians to finally sell them S-300.  I'm just saying "show me the magery."  C'mon, these guys love a parade, and they love to try to show off everything they can in order to look big and tough.  Figure the odds of finally getting some S-300 and then not parading them through the streets or at least showing them in training on Iranian TV?
 
 
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flyingarty    Iranians   7/20/2008 9:02:29 AM
Yep, if there is anything the Iranian Republican Guard loves, its prancing down the street with their newest toy.After the newest round of talks that went badly , I doubt if the Russians will sell them anything else. Nor if you were Israel would you wait for them to take delivery if they could pull the deal off. Flyingarty
 
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DarthAmerica       7/20/2008 12:09:02 PM



Is C-300 or S-300?



 
Well, it doesn't really matter in the overall picture, since Iran doesn't have any S-300 SAMs.



Topographically, isn't Iran very difficult to defend at medium to low altitude for long ranged SAMs? Look at this...
 
h*tp://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/99/Iran_topo_en.jpg/250px-Iran_topo_en.jpg
 
If the air threat has the capability for low altitude terrain following flight, then long ranged SAMs will have a tough time finding targets in all that. It almost makes sense to have a more fighter and point defense centric IAD it seems. They do have some SA-5 in significant numbers near Tehran though and along the coast....
 
h*tp://maps.google.com/maps?ll=35.305266,51.144758&z=15&t=h&hl=en
 
h*tp://maps.google.com/maps?ll=35.201054,48.655671&z=14&t=h&hl=en
 
h*tp://maps.google.com/maps?ll=35.385425,53.739783&z=15&t=h&hl=en
 
h*tp://maps.google.com/maps?ll=35.650862,51.511841&z=15&t=h&hl=en
 
h*tp://maps.google.com/maps?ll=32.786306,51.816036&z=15&t=h&hl=en
 
h*tp://maps.google.com/maps?ll=28.953448,50.818606&z=17&t=h&hl=en
 
h*tp://maps.google.com/maps?ll=27.250449,56.390763&z=16&t=h&hl=en
 
...OK, taking a look at the sites here are my conclusions. These sites are located near key military or civilian infrastructure. Most of those located DEEP within Iran. So any attacker, aka the Iraqis, would necessarily need to flight higher altitude flight profiles due to the short ranges of the Soviet era Iraqi fighters and bombers in the interest of fuel economy and for lack of low altitude flight capability. This would give the SA-5 a chance to exploit its long range to cause attrition on the attackers prior to interception and destruction by the Iranian Air Force fighters. The sites near Tehran cover almost all high altitude along the Iraqi border to Tehran with multiple overlapping coverage. It's clear the system is designed to counter Iraq threats to the west.
 
There is a small gap in the South West but that is made up for by fighters and shorter ranged SAMs. Coverage picks up again over Kuwait and covers almost the entire coastline, most of the Gulf especially near the Iranian shores, all of the Strait of Hormuz, leaving only a small ~100 mile empty stretch of cost uncovered in the South East. Long Range SAM density is considerably lighter in these areas however and do not enjoy the overlapped coverage. It seems that the Iranians are set up to rely even more heavily on fighters in these regions.
 
I'm not sure exactly what there EW coverage is like but again any ground based system will be challenged by the terrain. S-300 would add the element of mobility and survivaability to the equation.  Not to mention a SAM with a higher pk, ECCM and multiple target engagement capability. IIRC it's 6 targets engagesm simultaneously per battery. 
 
-DA
 

 

 
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displacedjim       7/20/2008 5:07:38 PM
Thanks for the sites, DA.  I wouldn't call anything about Iranian SAMs "dense."  The first thing I note about the SA-5 sites is how each one only has two launchers.  Something about the one on the edge of the east side of Tehran spells "missile maintenance facility" to me (for one thing I didn't see any radars), leaving (if I'm right) six sites with twelve rails.  By comparison, the four Syrian SA-5 sites have that many at each site, plus they all overlap in coverage.  These Iranian sites are so spread out (naturally, since Iran is a very large country) that--as you wisely bring up, DA--I'd guess they only overlap to some extent at high altitude.  There undobtedly are huge holes in the coverage at lower altitudes.  I'm sure it does not even require terrain following at 200ft using the LANTIRN nav pods to sneak in, either.  The same goes with their EW radars.  Even at high altitude they probably don't caover the whole country, and at low altitude (and by that I mean a few thousand feet, not jsut a few hundred feet)... fuhgetabotit, there are gaps you could drive a BUFF (or even a few dozen) through.
 
 
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