Amid conflicting reports that Moscow has agreed to sell Iran a number of S-300 low-to-high altitude air-defence systems emerging at the end of 2007, Jane's has learned that Tehran is actually in the final stage of negotiations with Belarus for the acquisition of two surplus trailer-mounted towed S-300PT (SA-10A 'Grumble') systems.
These systems were, until recently, deployed near Minsk as part of Belarus's operational air-defence configuration, and include command-guided Fakel 5V55K missiles (with a range of 47 km) and the baseline 5V55R semi-active radar and Track Via Missile (TVM) guided missile (range 75 km).
Defence industrial sources in Belarus told Jane's that although the value of the contract has yet to be finalised, Belarusian negotiators are asking for USD140 million for the two systems (including parts, maintenance and training). The sources noted that while that figure is considered high for older S-300PT systems (the S-300PT entered Soviet service as far back as 1978), the inflated price reflects an awareness of Iran's urgent requirement for such systems and its consequent willingness to pay well, enhanced by the intense international scrutiny placed on Tehran's efforts to acquire missile technologies and the country's difficulty to fast-track acquisition of such systems from other sources.
Further, the price also reflects the risk involved for Minsk in releasing such systems to Tehran - particularly in its political relations with Moscow.
The sources confirmed that after the contract is finalised, the S-300PT systems would be transferred from Belarus to Iran in semi-knocked down (SKD) condition aboard a number of cargo aircraft. These flights will fall within the framework of the many regular flights (including military aircraft) between Iran and Belarus, and will include the transfer of spare system parts as required by Iran.