Iran unveiled its own locally-developed missile defence system today, and claimed that it beats the renowned Russian S-300 and US Patriot systems. The long-range surface-to-air missile system, Bavar-373, was unveiled in a ceremony in Tehran commemorating Iran's National Defence Industry Day and attended by President Hassan Rouhani.
"With this long-range air defence system," Defence Minister Amir Hatami told state television, "we can detect… a target or aircraft at more than 300 km, lock it at about 250 km, and destroy it at 200 km." The system is capable of downing aircraft and drones, as well as high-speed ballistic missiles at an altitude of up to 27 km.
Brigadier General Hojjatollah Ghoreishi, Iran's Deputy Defence Minister, claimed that Bavar-373 is a "rival" to Russia's S-300 which is used by states such as Syria and Egypt. The US Patriot system is used by Gulf States such as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, as well as Israel.
The claims made about the new system are likely to be challenged, as Iran has been known to exaggerate the capabilities of its weapons and military technology. Western military analysts regularly downgrade the value of anything made by the Iranian arms industry.
Iran began its production of the Bavar-373 in 2010, following the imposition of sanctions over its nuclear programme; a model of the system was unveiled in 2016, the same year that Tehran acquired the S-300 system. The development of Bavar-373 is part of Iran's drive to improve and enhance its arms industry and technology so that it becomes less dependent on foreign suppliers. The system is the latest in a number of newly-produced weapons systems introduced over the past few years. The Khordad 15 air defence missile system, for example, was unveiled in June. It is said to be capable of tracking and shooting down six targets simultaneously.
Iran's recent progress in the development of its military technology comes amid a period of tension in the region, with the seizure of tankers in the Gulf, the breakdown of the 2015 nuclear deal and the downing of drones. All have increased fears of a direct conflict between Iran and the US.