FighterSweep Fans, we have more fun news coming out of Southwest Asia, where the Iranian government has announced the delivery of the first S-300 long-range SAM sytem from Russia. This is the S-300PMU-2 variant, designated by NATO as the SA-20B “Gargoyle.” It is a very lethal component of an Integrated Air Defense System, with an effective range of over 100 miles and able to reach targets in excess of 100,000 feet MSL.
ussia has started to deliver the powerful Almaz-Antey S-300 integrated air defense system to Iran, according to a top Kremlin official. The Iranians are receiving an upgraded version of the weapon called the S-300PMU-2 Favorit.
“The contract is in action. They’ve begun,” Vladimir Kozhin, a Russian presidential aide for military-technical cooperation told the TASS news agency.
Kozhin’s statement confirms an earlier report in which Iranian ambassador to Russia Mehdi Sanai said Tehran had received its first S-300 batteries. The S-300PMU-2 Favorit has a range of more than 120 miles and can hit targets as high as 100,000ft. The system can engage half-a-dozen or more targets simultaneously. Either version of the weapon is extremely capable and could render entire swaths of Iran nearly invulnerable to attack via conventional strike aircraft.
As one senior U.S. Marine Corps aviator told me earlier in the year, the S-300 series is a deadly threat to everything except the most advanced stealth fighters and bombers. “A complete game changer for all fourth-gen aircraft [like the F-15, F-16 and F/A-18]. That thing is a beast and you don’t want to get near it,” he said.
Only the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, F-35 and Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit stealth bomber would be able to operate inside areas protected by those weapons. But even those aircraft could be challenged if there were enough S-300 batteries operating as part of an integrated air defense network.
The exact number and location of the S-300s would make a huge difference. The problem is further compounded by the fact that the S-300 system is mobile—and can move at a moment’s notice. “If they’re all over every square inch of the country, then it doesn’t matter what you put out there—it’s going to be a challenge,” a senior Air Force official with extensive stealth experience told me earlier in the year. But exactly how many S-300s Iran is buying is unclear.