Air Defense: Iranian Missiles Decoded



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…). 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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