15 February, 2010

S-300 to Iran

Russia is resolving the technical problems which have delayed the delivery of advanced S-300 air defense systems to Iran, a Russian defense industry official said on Monday.

"A few technical faults have been detected in the radio-frequency band [command and control system]. We are currently fixing them," first deputy director of the Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation Alexander Fomin said.

Russia signed a contract with Iran on the supply of at least five S-300 air defense systems to Tehran in December 2005. However, Moscow has not so far honored the contract, which many experts say is due to pressure from Washington and Tel Aviv.

Both the United States and Israel have not ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to resolve the dispute over Iran's nuclear program and have expressed concern over S-300 deliveries, which would significantly strengthen Iran's air defenses.

Matters came to a head last week after Iran announced it had developed its own air defense system comparable to and even more sophisticated than the Russian S-300 system.

Iranian Ambassador to Russia Seyyed Mahmoud-Reza Sajjadi earlier said the S-300 contract had been plagued by technical problems.

Russian defense industry officials have repeatedly said that Russia is interested in fulfilling the contract, which is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, but the future of the contract would largely depend on the current situation in international affairs and the Kremlin's position.

The advanced version of the S-300 missile system, called S-300PMU1 (SA-20 Gargoyle), has a range of over 150 kilometers (over 100 miles) and can intercept ballistic missiles and aircraft at low and high altitudes, making the system an effective tool for warding off possible air strikes.

February 15 (RIA Novosti)

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