Februari 15, 2009, Tehran -- Iran formed an air defense unit as a part of its air force restructuring to boost the country's defense capabilities, a senior commander said.
Referring to a project for partitioning Iranian Air force, Commander of Khatam ol-Anbia Air Defense Base Brigadier General Ahmad Mighani told reporters on Saturday that Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei had ordered that the air force be split into an air force and an air defense unit.
"Now, we are separating these two sections and, thus, the Islamic Republic's Army will split into 4 independent forces, including ground force, air force, navy and air defense Unit," the senior commander reiterated.
"Formation of an independent air defense unit aims to boost combat capability and expand air defense combat capability," Mighani said, adding that the restructuring would accomplish next year.
"All air defense related systems of the country, including radars, data collecting systems, long-, mid- and short-range missile launchers and defense systems will come under full control of the air defense unit," the commander noted.
He further noted the moves by the Iranian air force to modernize equipment and develop home-made technologies, and pointed to the development of Iran's National Radar as among efforts made by his forces to optimize the country's radar systems.
Reminding rapid changes in the manufacture of Hawk missile systems in the last two years, the commander stated, "We have had good innovations in weapons, defense equipment and renovation of old equipment this year, including optimization of electronic warfare systems, communication capabilities, civil defense and data collection systems."
Meantime, Iran's Defense Minister Brigadier General is slated to visit Moscow to discuss bilateral military-technical cooperation with Russia. But there has been significant media speculation concerning possible negotiations between Moscow and Tehran on the delivery of S-300 air defense systems to the Islamic Republic, although Russia has consistently dismissed these rumors.
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.
Media reports on possible S-300 delivery to Iran have alarmed the US and Israel, which have consistently refused to rule out the possibility of military action against Tehran. The systems could greatly improve Iranian defenses against any air strike on its strategically important sites, including nuclear facilities.
Iran recently took delivery of 29 Russian-made Tor-M1 air defense missile systems under a $700-million contract signed in late 2005. Russia has also trained Iranian Tor-M1 specialists, including radar operators and crew commanders. (FARS)
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