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Short Range Air Defense
Open Source Intelligence Project
Independent and objective analysis of current Iranian military capability using open-source non-classified information. Assessments and views expressed represent those of the authors and are not affiliated with any special interest group or political agenda. Version 1.0 January 2011
About the Project
The Open Source Intelligence Project 2011 is an attempt to draw together the most salient bits of currently available Open Source material to piece together a broad and largely complete analysis of Iranian military capability. Open Source refers to unclassified, public sources. The co-authors and reviewers come from a wide range of backgrounds, including in some cases extensive military intelligence experiences and/or relevant specialist knowledge. However, their primary connection is an appreciation and active participation in the Open Source intelligence scene. All those involved have contributed on an amateur/civilian basis. Some have requested to remain anonymous, for various reasons, which we must respect. The project was started in April 2010 and took months of writing, research, drafts and revisions to make it into the form you are reading. We have attempted to provide a single text that will be easy to navigate and digest. However, it is the work of multiple people and this may be apparent in different writing styles and minor formatting differences. We apologize for this, but believe it is inevitable in this type of undertaking. We hope that you find the document interesting and informative – we are hopeful that there is some information and analysis which although open source in nature, is fresh and stimulating to even a highly informed reader.
Author (This Section)
· Anonymous (1)
Main Reviewer (This Section)
· Anonymous (4)
Reviewing Pool (No order)
Sean O’Connor Anonymous (2) Galan Wright ‘TLAM Strike’ (Pseudonym)
(Short Range Air Defenses)
All branches of Iranian land forces and air forces employ some degree of point air defenses, although units defending strategic targets have been substantially consolidated under a single independent command known as the Air Defense Force, split off from the Air Force (IRIAF). This new force includes both area-defense (covered in IADS section) and point defenses (SHORAD) and operational control of IRIAF interceptors. For SHORAD the new force has acquired much equipment previously employed by the IRGC and Army as well as the IRIAF. The new force was first reported in September 2009 and is likely still in transition. Increasing separation of air force and ground-based air defenses is a sign that Iran places little faith in the IRIAF aircraft inventory to meet air threats, echoing Iraq’s similar move in 1990s. The Air Defense Force has adopted new camouflage schemes which are characterized by their inclusion of blue. In many cases blue spray paint has been added to previous camouflage schemes on equipment. Although in some circumstances blue can be camouflage, it seems likely that the adoption of this scheme and painting of inherited equipment has more to do with branding and esprit de corps.
Blue camouflage applied to Rapier SAM system. Source Military.ir Limited organic point air defense (SHORAD) for ground forces remains within the relevant branch although the IRGC still has SA-15, SA-6, HQ-2 (all dealt with in IADS section) and various AAA including Oerlikon 35mm and Zu-23.
although the large arsenal of shoulder launched SAMs does pose a threat to helicopters and some fixed wing operations in guerilla warfare scenarios. Bushehr and Esfahan.2 Employment Iran operates large numbers of anti-aircraft artillery (AAA. Some nuclear sites. Current deployments see the vast majority of active SHORAD assets deployed around static sites of strategic importance.7mm). particularly in MANPAD S Man Portable air Defense Systems). Many other strategic sites such as naval bases. Many of these are vehicle mounted. Zu-23 23mm AAA and Shilka 23mm AAA are also employed. Source FARS . do not have visible air defenses. In general naval facilities. 3. In times of war it is likely that reserve AAA units may be deployed to some of these sites. oil refineries and large military bases still have the scars of Iran-Iraq war air defenses. suitable for ambush attacks on transport helicopters. In general however air defenses. including IRGC-N. guns). as well as shoulder-launched missiles and to a lesser degree short range SAMs such as Rapier. do not have significant shore-based air defenses. Many fixed SAM sites for HQ-2 and I-Hawk have Zu-23mm AAA co-located for point defense. SA-14 MANPADS. mostly 23mm. Bandar Abbas has had air defense sites added since 2000 but these have not been seen occupied. Some air bases do retain active air defenses (notably Mehrabad in Tehran).7mm machine guns. although they are often sited near to other air defenses. particularly AAA. The IRGC practices deploying MANPADs using motorcycles which does offer the potential for hit-and-run anti-air operations. but the focus is likely to remain the nuclear sites. Arak. Many of these systems are unlikely to be in regular service but may represent “desperate measures” wartime emergency production designs. The army/IRGC land forces do retain organic air defense capability. Additionally Iran has shown great interest in heavy machine gun AAA primarily involving the mounting of multiples of DShK 12.3 Asymmetrical warfare potential Air defenses do not form a large part of the Iran’s asymmetrical warfare doctrine. particularly the nuclear related facilities at Natanz. Most of the air defense positions from this era are now long since disused. Parchin.4 3. along the front line and around strategic sites such as oil refineries. Some of these are likely maintained and employed sporadically during peacetime for training purposes. This is particularly true in the mountains where relative altitude differences are generally reduced. typically a battery of four guns. such as Qom. During the Iran-Iraq war anti-aircraft defenses were deployed at air bases. along with an assortment of heavy machine guns (mostly DShK 12. and several which previously had Skyguard systems now have Zu-23 23mm sites – a downgrade. have been centralized under the air defense command for deployment in fixed sites.
3. In general new systems are added around the facilities without the old ones being removed. The explosive force of the blast is limited and there is inherently no shrapnel effective. . Iran’s emphasis on massed SHORAD probably reflects the Iranian defense industries means better than the threat. Consequently some facilities now have several concentric rings of SHORAD around them. with the addition of GPS guidance to air delivered ordnance. striking aircraft no longer have to come in at low altitude to obtain the desired weapon accuracy against a target. and various attempts at an anti-missile “CIWS” have yielded the Mesbah-1 system although the effectiveness of that system is doubted by some observers. By releasing their ordnance from high altitudes the attacker can gain significant standoff range. A barrage balloon exploding near a model aircraft during a demonstration. Both air forces have superior assets than Iran’s own and even operating over their own territory the IRIAF is at something of a technological disadvantage. Source: FARS Within Iran’s asymmetrical doctrine. even with free fall JDAMs. but rather Iran’s physical ability to defend against one by means of SHORAD.4 Ability to defend strategic sites against US or Israeli air strikes The political merits or likelihood of such an attack are not discussed here.5 Among the more unlikely asymmetrical air defenses are gas-filled barrage balloons designed to explode near enemy aircraft (or missiles). Iran places great emphasis on its IADS (including SHORAD) to defend key nuclear facilities from the threat of US or Israeli air action. It is unlikely that these are in service and their effectiveness is extremely doubtful. Third generation laser-guided PGMs can also be delivered at altitudes where the AAA cannot hope to reach. New systems such as automated 100mm KS-19s having increased the range and altitude reach of SHORAD. In recent years the number and capability of systems deployed to key facilities has increased dramatically. it is likely that the supply of MANPADS and light AAA to groups such as Hamas in Lebanon and insurgency groups in Iraq and Afghanistan would likely occur in times of actual conflict.
nearly all current facilities there are soft targets. The current arsenal is probably less than 100 bombs. Esfahan is the critical path. If the attacker can destroy these targets and you have nothing to enrich and no near-term ability to make the necessary fuel for the IR-40 Reactor – both the uranium and plutonium paths are neutralized at one place.000lb ‘bunker buster’ bombs which are probably capable of destroying Natanz’s underground complexes. The below analysis however will concentrate largely on Natanz as it is more heavily defended. Syria does not deploy AAA in anything like the same numbers or concentration of Iran and that facility did not have the massed AAA that Natanz and most other Iranian nuclear facilities have. Esfahan and Parchin have remained largely unchanged for the past several years. Israeli’s main limitation is that to strike Natanz (widely regarded the most likely target) the F-15s would have to operate at the extremes of their operational radius even if In-flight refueling were employed. and self-escort capability with advanced air-air missiles easily superior to those fielded by Iran. With Iran’s (alleged) nuclear weapons program viewed a process flow chart.1 Israeli Air Force In July 2007 Israel demonstrated her ability to strike (alleged) Syrian nuclear facilities at Dayr az-Zawr despite the relative depth of Syrian IADS. The main Syrian systems were SA-2 GUIDELINE (equivalent to HQ-2 in Iranian service). Both types have been subject to upgrade and have night strike capability. Furthermore. SA-3 GOA. both in terms of SHORAD and by the extent of underground hardened facilities. Israel could also acquire the enhanced EGBU-28 model with improved penetration and guidance although follow-up orders for the GBU28 have in the past been blocked by the US Administration. Thinking more laterally the jets could be flown to a designated position out to sea where the pilots could eject and be picked up F-15I. The constantly increasing air defenses at Natanz support this hypothesis whilst defenses at Arak. Qom is a notable exception having no identified air defenses. Source Wikipedia by Israeli submarines – this is very expensive but plausible if Israel deems the reward warrants the price. Israel originally received 100 GBU-28s but many were expended in the 2006 war and 50 more were delivered to replenish stocks.6 Most analysis of potential attacks on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure concentrate on Arak and Natanz as the obvious targets. The primary strike assets of the Israeli air force are the 24 US supplied F-15I Ra’am (equiv F-15E Strike Eagle) and 96 F-16I Sufa. The Israelis flew through Turkish airspace to circumvent Syria’s Soviet supplied IADS. the enriched uranium would be converted to UO2 here as well. The tunnels are more of a challenge but the bulk of the key activities probably concentrated in the above ground facilities. as is the FMP and the ZPP. . However some observers suggest Esfahan is a more plausible target. various PGMs and stand-off attack missiles are also fielded. SA-6 GAINFUL (also employed by Iran).4. To make Esfahan more attractive. Other weapons such as anti-radiation missiles. They could shorten the trip by landing in another country such as Turkey or one of the Gulf States although every option incurs serious political difficulties. SA-8 GECKO and SA-5 GAMMON (also operated by Iran). 3. Israel has significant numbers of GBU-28 5. The UCF is there.
Israel’s sub-launched cruise missiles reportedly come in two flavors. The fire-units and supporting Kasta and Nebo radars are in known (to IAF) locations which themselves could be targeted with stand-off weapons carried by the strike package. Therefore operating with heavy ECM and from medium/high altitude the inbound package of F-15Is would have little to worry about from Iran’s SHORAD assets. armed with two Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) GBU-57B bombs is a threat that. It is possible that some bombs or missiles could be intercepted by SA-15. asymmetric warfare waged via Hezbollah or other Palestinian groups. the AAA batteries will have no impact whatsoever. The other SLCM is the “Turbo Popeye” development of the air-launched Popeye missile. The bomb can penetrate between 7 and 60 meters of reinforced concrete or rock. If Esfahan were attacked instead of Natanz Israel would be better able to employ its wide range of stand-off lowpenetration munitions such as Popeye missile and JDAMs. The 30.4. If Israel cannot neutralize the area air defense. and it would prefer someone else (ie US) to do the task. and a cohesive radar seeker . It follows that the threshold for striking Iran is quite high for Israel. Alternative strikes could be conducted by submarine launched cruise missile (unconfirmed capability) or conventionally armed Jericho SSMs but neither is as well suited to destroying Iran’s underground complexes as the air launched GBU28. or the wider IADS. Mesbah-1 or even other AAA assets but they present far from an impenetrable umbrella.2 US strike The USAF B-2 Spirit Stealth bomber. The warhead of this system is thought to be nuclear which makes it a less likely choice. but have limited altitude capability and only 12km range. for the moment at least. In the aftermath of an Israeli strike Iran might also be able to galvanize stronger and more proactive alliances with Arab states allowing a widening of the conflict – an outcome Israel would presumably prefer to avoid. it is not viable against Arak. . It is much less of a threat to the aircraft themselves due to its limited engagement envelope but is almost certainly the best chance Iran has to intercept incoming bombs and cruise missiles. it is possible that the combined efforts of IRIAF. This would render them more vulnerable to Iran’s AAA when close to the target. Mesbah-1 is not known to be deployed at Natanz or any other high value site and is unlikely to have anything like the effectiveness of a “CIWS”. but deterrence in the form of Iran’s strategic missile forces and to a much lesser extent. the locally improved Harpoon Extended Performance (HEP) that gives the Harpoon missile a secondary land-attack role. The HEP has a short range so whilst it could be used against coastal targets such as Bushehr. The B-2 can also carry the EGBU-28 ‘bunker buster’ which could also be used. The main defense against Israeli strike is therefore not SHORAD. HQ-2 and SA-5 SAM systems could convince the IAF to approach the target at lower altitudes. Natanz or Esfahan. The HEP program reportedly includes a GPS/upgraded INS. a two-way data link. and which is widely speculated about but not confirmed.7 An Israeli strike would likely involve neutralization of Iran’s medium/high altitude SAM systems such as I-Hawk and SA-5. Iran appears ill-equipped to directly counter.000lb MOP is purpose designed to penetrate heavily buried structures. If Iran’s area defense SAMs are neutralized and Israel can come in high. and Iran’s I-HAWK. SA-15 is by far the biggest threat to the IAF. 3.
It is possible that Iran’s recently acquired Russian Nebo radar systems or even the VHF modified ‘SPOON REST’ could provide warning of attack. to launch a credible strike against some of the softer targets in Iran’s nuclear Program. As before the likelihood and politic dimension is not considered here. These are effective against non-hardened targets including above ground facilities at Esfahan and Natanz.4. A USN destroyer launches a Tomahawk cruise missile. Scenarios where the B-2 is detected by Nebo and intercepted by fighters with IR missiles. but there would be little that Iran could put up there which could effectively counter the B-2. Source US DoD 3. Source Wikipedia The US also has substantial quantities of Tomahawk cruise missiles which can be fired from ships and submarines. They could attempt to intercept the incoming ordinance but this seems less plausible considering the hard case of the MOP. but Iran’s SHORAD assets would not likely play a part. B-2. or fired at by SAMs. . even the enhanced KS-19 100mm AAA. two countries in particular have the means.8 Operating from medium/high altitude the stealthy B-2 is virtually impervious to Iran’s SHORAD assets. Although the SA-15 system is capable of intercepting cruise missiles the US has a substantial advantage in quantities and could target the SA-15 itself. on paper. can be imagined.3 Strike by Persian Gulf states Whilst the overall military capability of the US backed Persian Gulf countries is often questioned.
The UAE also fields an array of highly capable strike assets in the form of F-16s and Mirage 2000s. . F-15S Strike Eagles and Eurofighter Typhoons. The latter are equipped with the Black Shaheen cruise missile offering extended stand-off ranges and reputedly incorporating radar cross-section reducing technologies to make them even harder to intercept.9 Saudi Arabia has significant interdiction assets in the form of Tornado IDS strike aircraft.
Iranian produced MANPADS loosely equivalent to Russian SA-18 GROUSE.000m Effective range: 0. QW-18.10 3. A stepimprovement over the QW-1. has been sold to other countries. sights and general performance.07m Length: 1. The system is in widespread use among Iranian forces and likely the most common MANPADS in Iranian service. particularly in high ECM environments.5 kg w/launcher) Warhead: 0. Typical operation involves a two-man team although the system can be operated by a single person. which is itself influenced by both the Russian Igla-1 (SA-16) and American Stinger.68 kg (16. Specifications: Misagh-2.477m Operating attitudes : 30 > 4. This system is probably the most lethal MANPADS in Iranian service.5 > 5km Weight: 10. Source FARS . The main external differentiator compared to the Misagh-1 is the ‘T’ shaped battery. The system is considered for the export market only in China with Iran as the main customer – an improved version.5 Equipment Misagh-1 (QW-1) Iranian produces Chinese QW-1 shoulder launched SAM. the QW-1M has improved seeker. The system uses an all-aspect cooled IR seeker. Source: Modlex Specification Diameter: 0.55kg HE Fragmentation Misagh-2 (QW-1M) Chinese designed. or mounted on vehicles. The system was first produced in China in mid 1990s.
47m Range: 4. generally speaking. locally produced as Sahand-3. The type is generally capable against low altitude air threats although its effectiveness .3 kg (18 kg w/launcher) Warhead: 0. Source FARS Sahand-3 / SA-14 GREMLIN (9K34 Strela-3) Russian supplied 1970s era MANPADS in service with Iranian forces. Although Iran.1km Altitude: 30m > 2. This configuration increases crew readiness and caries a larger battery. Based on SA-7 but featuring more advance seeker with limited all-aspect capability. widely reported) Oerlikon GDF series 35mm AAA / Samavat (“Skyguard”) The foremost air defense gun employed by Iran. Generally older and less capable than Misagh series.5 > 5km Weight: 12. and general performance improvements. Source MEHR Other MANPADS Iran uses a multitude of legacy MANPADS. their shelf-life and general obsolescence makes their deployment increasingly scarce. the type is less numerous than the ubiquitous Zu-23.11 Length: 1.477m Operating attitudes : 10 > 4.000m Effective range: 0. mostly acquired during the Iran-Iraq war. but significantly longer ranged and more effective. Specification Length: 1.55kg HE Fragmentation (TBC) Vehicle-mobile twin pedestal mount. possesses the industrial base to refurbish many of these types.3km Weight: 10.17 kg directed energy blast fragmentation SA-14 in Iranian service. FIM-92 Stinger SA-7 Grail RBS-70 (TBC.3 kg (16 kg w/launcher) Warhead: 1.
but was also deployed to ‘field sites’ during the Iran-Iraq war. More recently the fixed sites at air bases are usually empty. A camouflaged GDF cannon. Arak. stealthy or high speed targets such as cruise missiles – Iran is not reported (and not likely) to have AHEAD ammunition now available for manufacturer supported operators for anti-missile defense.12 is reduced against small. Bushehr and Esfahan. Manual transverse and elevation. Iran later received 24 Skyguard systems. deployed to fire Targeting: Super-Fledermaus or Skyguard radar cuing with electro-optical and IR backup. but the system is deployed in great numbers to key nuclear facilities particularly Natanz. Source FARS Iran originally acquired GDF-001 systems with Fledermaus radars which were primarily deployed to defend air bases. possibly with GDF-002 cannon. Source ISNA .100 rds/min Elevation: -5°/+92° Traverse: 360° Crew: 5 (min: 1) Mobility: Towed mount. Specification: Round: 35mm Effective range (AA): 4km Effective relative altitude (AA): 3km Rate of Fire: 1. Originally the system was deployed to paved fixed sites at Iranian air bases. Parchin. Optical sights on-mount. This framed netting has been standard on the type for many years among most operators but only recently seen in Iranian service. It is hard to estimate Ground level view of Samavat site.
Numerous tents. Together with original and remanufactured examples these are deployed in a seemingly mix-and-match fashion with little operational distinction between variants. The generic Skyguard site layout used by Iran is approximately “A” shaped with the radar placed centrally and to the rear of two gun emplacements. though often with a radar. The gun positions are surrounded by a low wall.13 current inventory but the system is widely deployed. is being manufactured. . but the composition and approximate layout makes identification relatively easy. Of course individual sites differ. Towed generators and ammunition storage is located near the gun positions. An Iranian copy of the GDF-002. particularly to defend nuclear sites. known as Samavat. Source FARS GDF cannon defending Natanz. Samavat. The type is also often deployed in single-gun emplacements. huts and bunkers are positioned on the site. The radar and the gun positions are all raised in a manner often described as ramps. In these instances it is likely that the radar used is the less capable Fledermaus type.
The basic layout can be identified.Also circled are other AAA sites (Zu-23) illustrating the integrated layering of defenses typical at these sites. .14 Example Skyguard site near Esfahan seen in Google Earth. This annotated view of part of the Esfahan defenses shows two Skyguard sites (top left).
Source MEHR Defending a strategic site. Source ISNA Training. likely Arak. Source FARS .15 Skyguard Radar (source MEHR) Iranian made radar (FARS) Fledermaus radar (MEHR) Oerlikon 35mm GDF cannon being towed with generator unit.
With automated targeting and alignment far greater accuracy should be obtainable. . Observers differ in assessing the operational deployment of this system. some likely captured from Iraq during the 1980s. The exact radar employed has not been identified but could be Skyguard or a local type. These have significantly greater range and altitude than more typical 23mm to 57mm AAA but a slower rate of fire and cumbersome transverse and elevation making them generally inadequate against fast moving targets. A crew is still required for reloading.12km (est) Rate of Fire . both in target alignment and firing.5 t Typical battery layout is 4 guns in a line. The system is still unsuited to “CIWS” type employment but a useful stop-gap addition to Iran’s more capable SHORAD missile forces like SA-15 Tor deployed at Natanz. Source FARS range and altitude.16 Modified KS-19 100mm AAA Iran has a stock of obsolete Soviet KS-19 100mm anti-aircraft guns. Specification Effective range .15 rds/min Elevation -3°/+85 Traverse .360 degrees Weight – 9. likely increasing effective Upgraded KS-19. with a command post and radar at rear. Recently Iran has started a major upgrade program making these fully-automated. The most likely location is Natanz where an outer ring of AAA has been added over the past few years with several sites fitting the KS-19-Mod’s footprint.
. and 3D model representation.17 Google Earth imagery of a suspected KS-19-Mod site near Natanz.
Source FARS Vehicle configurations vary from the back of a truck. which is also manufactured locally and deployed in multiple sub-variants including automated versions. The wheels are often removed when deployed in static positions. Seen on some vehicle mounts and also used by naval forces for small craft. Alternative automated arrangement with different EO sights and control box in place of seats. Note rust. ‘Zu-23-6’ – Iranian six-barrel version. Not confirmed in service. Source MEHR Zu-23 during training. Common configurations use Toyota off-road pick-up trucks as a base. Noted variants: Baseline – twin cannon mounted on towed chassis with two road wheel. The baseline version is a towed configuration which is deployed in static positions. Zu-23 deployed near strategic site. Possibly interim design leading to Mesbah-1 system. to bolted onto the top of an APC. Mesbah-1 – Automated 8-barral mount using Oerlikon GDF 4-wheel chassis. Optically sighted. Typically the system is optically targeted and only has voice communication with early warning systems.18 Zu-23 23mm AAA The most common air defense gun in Iranian service is the Russian Zu-23 twin gun. See separate entry. ‘Zu-23-1’ – Iranian Single barrel version. Mesbah – Automated twin mount with EO targeting and capable of integration with surveillance radars and IADS networks. .
Source FARS Zu-23-1. Source IRNA. Field deployment. Source Modlex Zu-23 mounted on Boragh APC hull. The firing position has a low wall or revettment around it and is accessed by a ramp. Source FARS Zu-23-1.19 Zu-23 mounted on Toyota pick-up. The wheels are often removed if the gun is to be emplaced for any length of time. Source FARS . Alternative mount. Source IRNA Zu-23 fixed sites typically consist of a single crew-hut (often with a blue corregated roof making site hunting quite easy) and elevated firing position.
Whilst the last point is spot on. the gun mount is not stabilized and the round-to-round dispersion is likely very great compared to other anti-missile systems. Unlike most other Zu-23 systems in Iranian service the gun is fully integrated with surveillance and targeting radar which is mounted on a towed cabin suitable for fixed site deployment. Described by the Iranian press as a “missile shield”. Mesbah-1 Slotted-array radar system.000) Rate of Fire (practical) – 800 rds in 6 seconds) Mesbah-1. The gun mount itself is fully automated. The positioning of the system will likely be much closer to the defended location than typical Zu-23 and Skyguard sites which are placed on the perimeter.20 Mesbah – 1 (Zu-23-8) 23mm AAA Recently deployed system using four Russian Zu-23 twin cannon (Afanasyev-Yakushev 2A14) mounted on a Swiss Oerlikon GDF cannon mount which itself is locally produced as the Samavat. the system will all the same. Source MEHR .000 rds / min (some Iranian sources say 4. The system also includes back-up EO tracking and fire control. likely be deployed as point defense against bombs and missiles for high value targets.2km Rate of fire (cyclic) – 8. Source FARS Specifications Effective Range – 3km (est) Effective altitude . The Oerlikon mount is not designed to handle the torque these guns will generate due to their dispersed arrangement. This system is one of several Iranian sometimes described as a “Frankengun” as in Frankenstein’s monster due to it combining components from different existing AAA systems to create a ‘monster’. this system is often likened to the Chinese LD2000 or American Centurion land based Phalanx CIWS (C-RAM) because of its autonomous nature and incredibly high rate of fire. Having said that.
Source FARS Zu-23-4 (Shilka) Iran has around 30 (some sources say 100+) Zu-23-4 self-propelled anti-aircraft guns (SPAAG) providing point defense for maneuver forces. resulting in a very high rate of fire but poor accuracy. this mount consists of 6 Afanasyev-Yakushev 23mm autocannons mounted on a Russian 4-wheel chassis. Zu-23-6 23mm AAA Not thought to be in widespread service. There are reports that Iran produces these but it seems unlikely. particularly helicopters.2. Specification Effective range .5km Effective altitude – 2km Rate of fire (cyclic) – 6.com . The type can also be used in mountains and built-up areas to provide high-angle direct fire support as demonstrated by the Russians in Chechnya and Georgia.000 rds / min Rate of Fire (practical) – 600 rds Zu-23-6.5km Effective altitude – 2km Zu-23-4. Specification Armament. Technologically the system is now very dated but still considered a credible threat to low-flying aircraft and UAVs. The configuration is likely very unstable when firing due to torque caused by the wide placement of the guns.21 It appears that the system can be integrated with 35mm AAA to form a layered point-defense. The tracked chassis is lightly armored and lacks air conditioning. Source Iranmilitaryforum. Source IRNA Effective range – 2.4 × 23 mm 2A7 autocannons with 2000 rds Crew – 4 Zu-23-4.
Unlike other systems it is not thought that any extra missiles were delivered during the Iran-Iraq war. with a distinctive tandem stepped cockpit reminiscent of an attack helicopters on the left hand side of the vehicle. the addition of a warhead with proximity fuse. It’s not clear if there was an additional search radar. The planned technology transfer required for local production had not taken place. in particularly to increase the range. Iranian Rapiers however still use the non-warhead “Mk 1” missile that has to hit its target to inflict any damage (a “hittle” not a “miss-ile”…). There were four reloads in protective boxes on the back of the truck. Specification Effective range – about 6km Effective attitude – 3 km Missile speed – Mach 2. but when the regime change put paid to that only a small number of British assembled launchers had been delivered. This is essentially the same system that Britain used with modest (often over-stated) success in the Falklands war.5 Warhead – none Iranian Rapier systems were the original “Mk 1” system but with added ‘Blindfire’ tracking radars (sometimes retrospectively described as FSA. evidenced by the routine inclusion of the system in military parades and recent live firing demonstrations. but it is likely that the Rapier is not very widely deployed. not least because it is becoming obsolete. several design flaws were found and subsequent modifications made. Relative to the Shahab Thaqeb (FM-80) program the Rapier is much shorter ranged and has less modern electronics. Iran has developed local production of missiles and possibly fire units. Iran experimented with a fully mobile Rapier system employing an all-terrain 8 wheel drive truck. Field Standard “A”).22 Rapier Before the revolution Iran had planned to mass produce the Rapier system under license. . However. although some degree of operational service remains.
3 . Rapier deployed with Oerlikon 35mm AAA as part of Skyguard. and it is possible that Libya. and for years it has been speculated that they are not in widespread use. The system. However. fire unit or just the missile. which differsfrom standard FM-80 in the coupling with the Oerlikon Sky Guard radar instead of the original French surveillance radar. under the new Air Defense Force. If this is the case. who also operate Crotale and where allied to Iran in the 1980s also supplied equipment and/or technology. It is also not clear what the operational status of either the Shahab Thaqeb/FM-80 systems is. is often called Shahab Thaqeb although it is not clear whether this refers to the whole system.23 Although this variant improved mobility it reduced the arc of fire and for whatever reason does not appear to have made it into production. the system was paraded in public and participated in major air defense drills finally confirming some degree of operationalization. However in 2010. Iran subsequently purchased a number of FM-80 (HQ-7) Crotale short -range SAM systems from China and more recently succeeded in reverse engineering the system under the Ya-zahra project. it is likely that a single launcher is attached to a Skyguard radar and two GDF series 35mm cannon in a similar manner to Sparrow/Aspide SAM in other countries. Source: MEHR FM-80/Shahab Thaqeb (Matra R440 Crotale) Iran had attempted to purchase the Crotale (Rattlesnake) short range SAM system from the French in 1985 but appears to have been rebuffed. Note that the Rapier launcher cannot function with the radome open like this – None of the photos from this ‘demonstration’ suggest an operational capability. There is speculation that Iran also captured French made Crotale units from the Iraqis. It is possible that they are present at some known Skyguard sites but not conclusively identified in open source satellite imagery. Specification Effective Range – 12km Effective altitude – 5km Warhead – 13kg Missile Speed – Mach 2.
providing reasonable anti-helicopter defense although it is generally insufficient against armored helicopter gunships such as the Apache.6km Rate of fire: 4. and engage 3 targets. despite a high rate of fire this system does not appear to offer any advantages over MANPADS or other HMG systems.5mm quad AAA mounts have been rebuilt to carry 8 DShK ‘Dooshka’ 12. Source Modlex The Shahab Thaqeb uses autonomous tracking and Radio command to line of sight guidance. . 8 x 12. Although the system has a phenomenal rate of fire.800 rds/min (cyclic) Elevation : +90 to -10 DShK 12. The system can control two missiles in flight simultaneously.7mm Light AAA machine gun Iran mass-produces the DShK and it is standard fit to most Iranian built armored vehicles including MBTs. ZPU-4 carriage retrofitted with 8 DShK 12. collaborated by photographic evidence. suggest some degree of upgrade with additional electro-optical sensors although the materiality of any increase in overall capability is unconfirmed. Reaction time is about 6 seconds and maximum target speed 440 m/s. and small magazines limit its military utility.7mm Light AAA mount Some ZPU-4 14. Media reports. Sources: MEHR & FARS Specifications Effective range (AAA): 1. The system is offered for export but no sales have been reported. the manual aiming with basic “iron sight”.7mm machine guns.7mm cannons.24 Shahab Thaqeb missile.
Dated photo of IRGC S-60 AAA (background). and S-60 single 57mm AAA. Some self propelled ZSU-572 57mm AAA may be in reserve.7mm AAA. Source ISNA Iran may have numbers of M1938 and/or Type-74 37mm AAA guns still in service.-26 to +78 DShK 12. Additionally unmodified KS-19 100mm guns may be in limited or reserve use.5mm quad AAA. . Source Modlex DShK. Source FARS Other systems & notes Iran still operates limited numbers of ZPU-4 14. The Missile TEL in the foreground is the SA-6 SAM.6km Weight (gun only) – 32 kg Rate of fire – 600 rds/min Elevation (mounted) .25 Specifications Effective range (AAA) – 1.
with confusion surrounding the identity of the Misagh-2 system which is in fact QW-1M not QW-2. . Some observers speculate that the system combined an MRLS rocket motor and launcher with a MANPADS missile seeker.26 Iran experimented with using some form of MRLS as an ambush weapon against helicopters. Iran also deploys SA-15 and SA-6 systems. but which are covered in the IADS section because of their deployments. Similarly. Our current assessment is that Iran does not operate this type. This system does not appear to have been successful and has not be seen since the press unveiling several years ago. which could be regarded as SHORAD. Reports that Iran was to receive some of Syria’s Pantsyr -S1E SAM systems have not materialized. reports that Iran operates QW-2 MANPADS are in err.
6 Notable defended locations Iran deploys SHORAD assets as part of static defensives to several strategic targets. Watch towers have been added around inner AAA ring. Defenses form an inner-ring of closely-placed Zu-23 23mm AAA sites with Skyguard/35mm AAA sites to their front. An outer ring was later added consisting of 100mm AAA sites with 23mm AAA sites filling the gaps along a long perimeter road approximately 10km out from the main facility. particularly on Islands and oil facilities along the Persian Gulf coast. Identification of the 100mm AAA sites is not conclusive and they may be another system such as Mesbah automated Zu-23s. Sept 2006: A few more AAA sites found but no major evolutions. In general defenses are most dense on the East of the site and weakest on the southwest. More recently the focus has been on Iran’s nuclear facilities. and has empty emplacements at many more. These distances correspond to the effective ranges of the respective systems and the pattern reveals that the radar-directed Skyguard systems are the primary defense. Presumably this doubles as fence line for general security. A couple of Skyguard sites added further out and some single 35mm sites added. . Main underground complex now covered. No Mesbah-1 sites have been identified but it is highly probable that one or more systems are now active there. There are several radar sites notably with at least three Russian supplied KASTA-2E2 systems at any point in time. SA-15 and I-Hawk SAM sites. likely all Zu-23 23mm AAA around 'inner ring'. Natanz Nuclear Facility General coordinates: 33°43'30. Some of these sites still under construction at this stage. principally the Skyguard sites. Feb 2004: Little change from above but AAA sites are generally more 'settled in' July 2004: I-Hawk SAM site to north had been added.000m. Some sites date from the Iran-Iraq war.03"E Uranium Enrichment plant Natanz represents the singularly most densely defended airspace in Iran. This is not a SHORAD system but forms part of the area-airdefense of the site. April 2006: Several of the AAA sites had been re-modeled. the system will be placed relatively close to the main facility to fire at incoming missiles and bombs. the latter having their own Zu-23 23mm AAA sites. which are moved around periodically and mostly closely related to the SA-15 deployment but also likely providing general data to other systems. Generally speaking these AAA positions also provide significant ground defenses against commando raids. No AAA seen although main track for what is later "inner ring" is present. and probably in the World.81"N.27 3. The outer defensive ring does not extend into the mountains to the southwest of the site. This deployment pattern is overlaid by SA-6.000-3. with the Zu-23s representing a backstop. Zu23 sites are placed at 300-400m intervals and Skyguard at 2. Google Earth analysis confirms the following chronology: Feb 2003: early construction of site. If our understanding of the role of Mesbah-1 is correctly understood. 51°43'33. At least one NEBO long range radar system is present. Jan 2004: Some single AAA positions. which too is moved around periodically. Few/none AAA Oct 2003: Still under construction.
SHORAD site placement began in late 2003 and was substantially complete by 2009.49"N. There are also two I-Hawk SAM sites on the high ground to the north providing area-air-defense. SHORAD sites: 4 x Skyguard sites (2 x 35mm AAA.28 May 2009: First of 5 SA-15 sites now visible. 49°14'27. Oct 2009. March 2010. radar controlled) . Likely most of these are from 2006-9 period as per May 2009 imagery discoveries above. Outer ring of AAA added about 10km from facility (incomplete coverage but confirmed to south-east of facility. Confirms more of the Western outer ring showing large gap due to unfinished construction at that time. Separate update of May imagery shows SA-6 SAM site to west also. No substantial developments Inner and outer SHORAD rings (white lines) in relation to integrated air defense sites. occasional 100mm AAA sites and the 4th SA-15 site. July 2009: Imagery update covers eastern side of area showing SA-6 site on East.07"E Heavy water plant and research reactor SHORAD consists of inner perimeter of about 20 single Zu-23 23mm AAA sites and various 23mm and 35mm AAA sites distributed along the adjoining ridge lines and valley floor. I-Hawk SAM site to north still in use. These sites appear Static. Curiously helipads at NW corner of facility now relocated to SE corner. Image: Google Earth Arak Nuclear Facility General Coordinates: 34°22'23. showing parts of western side. Sept 2009 (2 updates): Extends coverage of outer ring. two more I-Hawk SAM sites.
Typically optically controlled) Image: Google Earth Esfahan Nuclear Facility General Coordinates: 32°34'51. There are 7 Skyguard 35mm AAA sites and 6 other single 35mm AAA sites. SHORAD sites: 7 x Skyguard AAA sites each with two 35mm AAA guns 6 x single 35mm AAA sites.10"E The complex is partially buried with the main site on the south side of a mountain. . Source Google E arth. often radar controlled) 38+ x Zu-23 23mm AAA (single emplacements.31"N. The camouflage net canopy is clearly visible. 51°49'36. Inner defenses primarily consist of a string of Zu-23 23mm AAA sites along the perimeter track. possibly with Fledermaus fire control radars 36 x Zu-23 23mm single gun emplacements 35mm AAA piece in raised platform.29 10 x 35mm AAA (single emplacements.
Blue diamond = radar site Bushehr Nuclear Site General Coordinates: 28°49'48.68"E Civilian application nuclear reactor site under construction for many years. with Skyguard 35mm AAA and single 35mm AAA sites in the surounding area.36"N. . is also home to a large air base. 50°53'38. a few km NW of the site. Bushehr’s SHORAD consists of an inner ring of Zu-23. naval HQ and port. The town.near the town of Bushehr on the Persian Gulf Coast. Orange square = 35mm AAA. white square = 23mm AAA. which have their own systems of air degenses including SHORAD.30 Key: Orange diamond = Skyguard.
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