Air Defense: New Iranian Air and Coast Defense Systems


March 4, 2024: In February, Irani revealed its purported new Arman anti-ballistic and Azarakhsh low-altitude air defense systems. The Arman anti-ballistic system can allegedly identify targets up to a range of 180 kilometers and fire at up to twelve targets at the same time. It has a radar installation and three Sayyad 2 and 3 class launchers. These TELAR Transporter Erector Launcher and Radar systems are installed on the same vehicle, to which two mobile launchers with six vertically launching missiles each could be attached.

The Azarakhsh short-range defense system can reportedly hit targets up to 50 km range with four missiles. It can be mounted on all types of vehicles and perform operations day and night under any weather conditions using a three-dimensional radar system, optical search, and advanced seekers. These announcements come amid rising tensions in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, highlighting Iran’s ongoing commitment to bolstering its military capabilities despite international pressures.

In 2023 Iran revealed its update of the AD-08 SHORAD Short Range Air Defense system that first appeared in 2021 This is a mobile, short range anti-aircraft missile system mounted on a truck. All the equipment is Iranian-made and the vehicle carrying the range of system can be any 4x4 light truck. AD-08 can use several different Iranian radars with ranges of 12 or 15 kilometers. The system operator can also use an electro-optical target designator which sends the heat-seeking missile in the direction of targets such as a helicopter, cruise missile, UAVs, or any low flying aircraft. AD-08 has been used most of the time against the growing number of enemy UAVs encountered in combat. The 75 kg 156mm missile is 2.77 meters long and can hit targets 700 to 8,000 meters from the vehicle and at altitudes of 20 to 6,000 meters. There were no details on export efforts, how much the system costs or if it has any combat experience.

Between 2010 and 2023 Iran introduced 21 new air defense systems. While major military powers tend to concentrate on a few well developed and widely used air defense systems, Iran does not. This is largely because, in addition to the regular military, Iran has a separate armed force called the Iranian Republican Guard Corps, or IRGC. This force exists to defend the religious dictatorship that has ruled, or rather misruled Iran since the 1980s. This government was soon declared an international outlaw and subjected to a growing list of economic and military sanctions. While that has impoverished most Iranians and caused a growing threat of rebellion, the IRGC receives all its needs to protect the religious dictatorship from the Iranian people.

The IRGC also handles the procurement and publicity for allegedly marvelous new weapons. The problem is that Iran announces a lot of new weapons that are never heard about again. Some of these systems are clearly prototypes that are misrepresented as production models for propaganda purposes. The AD-08 was first announced in 2021 and a new version was revealed in 2023 but neither version has been seen in a combat zone since they were announced. This is not unusual.

For example, in 2023 the Iranian IRGC announced Sadid-365, a new ATGM (Anti-Tank Guided Missile) with a range of 8 kilometers and designed to hit the thinner armor on the top of a tank. On closer examination Sadid-365 is crude, limited and not very accurate. The missile weighs about 25 kg and is launched and guided manually via a data link to an operator in the launch vehicle who guides the missile to its target. This type of guidance system does not provide pinpoint accuracy and has the missile hit within a five meter circle. A video of a test launch against an armored vehicle showed the missile hitting the tank tracks rather than the top. Since the missile follows a ballistic trajectory, it can only be guided to distant targets between, at best, 7,000 and 8,000 meters. Sadid-365 appears to be useful only in clear weather during daylight. Iran used an old BMP IFV (Infantry Fighting Vehicle) with the turret replaced by a four missile launcher. The missile operator was inside the vehicle.

Iran has become obsessed with these propaganda weapons, where they hack something together from an existing system and proclaim it to be a breakthrough weapon designed and manufactured in Iran. It's all rather pathetic, and it all began during the 1980s, when Iran and Iraq were fighting a nasty war. Some of the hacks worked, after a fashion. Iran created a longer range SCUD missile by the simple expedient of lengthening the missile with a larger fuel tank. This changed the flight characteristics of the missile but since these things were being fired at city size, as in Baghdad targets, it didn't matter. Actually, the Iranians didn't really need the longer range missiles because Baghdad was pretty close to the Iranian border. Iran actually got the technology for these SCUD mods from North Korea, but Iranian press releases always touted the achievement as being the work of Iranian scientists and engineers.

Every year the Iranian media features several new weapons described as locally designed and produced. This is to improve morale among a population that knows the country has been under an international arms embargo since the 1980s. Some of the new wonder weapons announced earlier included a cruise missile with 200 kilometer range and a submarine torpedo designed for shallow coastal waters. There was also a new 73mm missile that appeared to be a small, unguided rocket, albeit with a good press agent. All of this stuff was fluff, with a bit of recycled reality to back it up. If you go back and look at the many Iranian announcements of newly developed, high tech weapons, all you find is a photo op for a prototype. Sadid-365 went beyond the photo op by adding a larger rocket motor to the older, UAV launched Sadid-345 guided missile that used a more expensive guidance system that did not require operator control. The Arman and Azarakhsh systems described in the first two paragraph are more likely than not more of the same phony new weapons.

Production versions of these propaganda weapons rarely show up. It’s all feel-good propaganda for the religious dictatorship that runs Iran and needs a steady supply of good news for its supporters, at least the ones who do not examine the new weapons with much scrutiny.



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