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December 10, 2013 10:00 pm

Iran Unveils New Air Defense Radar System, Space Rocket

avatar by Joshua Levitt

The Official Seal of Islamic Republic of Iran Air Defense Force (IRIADF). Photo: WikiCommons.

The Official Seal of Islamic Republic of Iran Air Defense Force (IRIADF). Photo: WikiCommons.

As U.S. Congressmen gathered in snowy Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to grill U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry over last month’s Geneva deal that would curtail the sanctions on Tehran, which have blocked Iran from buying U.S. weapons systems since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the Iranian military unveiled a slate of locally-designed hardware it said could protect the country from attacks by even the most advanced jet fighters.

“The powerful Arash radar is one of the most important achievements of Khatam ol-Anbia Air Defense Base and will be unveiled in Eastern Iran today,” Khatam ol-Anbia Air Defense Base Commander, Brigadier General Farzad Esmayeeli, said on Tuesday, according to Iran’s FARS semi-official state news agency. The Khatam ol-Anbia compound is the headquarters of Iran’s land-based air defense capabilities. It houses 18,000 military personnel, and is implementing 15 new operational projects now, FARS said.

Brigadier General Esmayeeli said that the Arash system was wholly designed and built by Iranian scientists at the base and “the radar has high capability in detecting and identifying targets and in electronic warfare.” Other defense projects also under development are expected to be unveiled at a ceremony at the base this week.

Until now, military experts had considered the latest technology Arash — not to be confused with the Arash 20mm anti-material rifle unveiled by Iran earlier this year — to be perpetually under development. To date, Iran has released the Sepehr, an over-the-horizon radar with a range of 3,000 kilometers in radius and the Ghadir, which covers 1,100 km in distance and 300 km in altitude, to identify aerial targets, radar-evading aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles, and low-altitude satellites.

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In September, Brigadier General Esmayeeli said that Iran’s air defense systems and strategy are based on the possible threats which might be posed to the country in the next five years. In May, he said, “At present, the air defense unit’s capability, capacity and expertise can defuse any threat existing in the region,” adding that the air defense forces enjoy a “desirable” level of preparedness.

Meanwhile, General Mehdi Farahi, Deputy Defense Minister and Head of Iran’s Aerospace Organization, also on Tuesday announced that Iran’s seventh research rocket, Kavoshgar (Explorer), will be sent into space next week “to send living creatures into space.”

The announcements come as fruit of a sovereign weapons development program built upon what it had received in defense support from the U.S. from 1925 to the Islamic Revolution in 1979, which overthrew the U.S.-backed Shah. Its primary suppliers at the time included the United States, Britain, France, the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), Italy, Israel, and the Soviet Union.

But the post-1979 embargo coupled with advanced needs for the Iran-Iraq war  led to the domestic development program, with newer technology based on reverse engineering what it was able to buy from the Soviet Union, North Korea, Brazil, and China to meet its short term military requirements.

Since 1992, Iran has manufactured its own tanks, armored personnel carriers, missiles, radars, boats, submarines, unmanned aerial vehicles, and fighter planes.

Each year, on September 22, the military holds an annual parade to mark the start of the Week of Sacred Defense, commemorating the eight years of battle in the Iranian-Iraqi war. On display, the Iranian Army features its fighters, choppers, drones, ground-to-ground missiles, air-to-ground missiles, surface-to-surface missiles, tactical and armed vehicles, surface and underwater vessels, electronic and telecommunication equipment, light and mid-light weapons, different kinds of artillery and mortar-launchers, air defense systems and engineering and logistic equipment, according to FARS.

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