Air Defense Force
Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, holds ultimate authority over all security agencies. The Iranian system lacks transparency when it gets to relations between different security agencies. Iran's “deep state” is a semisecret network of security and intelligence officers and agents under the direct control of the Supreme Leader. The Pasdaran has permeated various agencies that are not formally part of the Guard Corps. Thus, the Air Defense Forces, nominally part of the Ministry of Defense, and the Border Guards, nominally part of the Law Enforcement Forces, and in fact led by and staffed by Pasdaran personnel.
Leader of Iran's Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, in separate decrees on 29 May 2019, appointed the commander of the newly established Air Defense Force of the Iranian Army, and the new commander of Khatam al-Anbia Air Defense Base.
The Leader appointed Brigadier General Alireza Sabahifard as the commander of the newly established Air Defense Force of the Iranian Army. General Sabahifard was chosen upon the joint recommendation of the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces and the Khatam al-Anbia Air Defense Base, and the recommendation of the Army chief. In his decree, Ayatollah Khamenei called on General Sabahifard to pay special attention to the internal growth and strengthening of the Air Defense Force, particularly through professional training of forces and up-to-date maintenance and optimum use of the equipment. The new commander was also urged to keep the Air Defense Force vigilant and use various defense methods while maintaining an effective interaction with the Khatam al-Anbia Air Defense Base. Sabahifard was previously in charge of the Khatam al-Anbia Air Defense Base.
In a separate decree, the Leader appointed Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi, the current chief commander of the Iranian Army, as the new commander of Khatam al-Anbia Air Defense Base. In the decree, the Leader urged General Mousavi to use all the facilities and capacities of the country's Armed Forces to defend the Iranian airspace and reinforce the integrated and strong network of Iran's air defense command and control. Khatam-al Anbia Air Defense Base, established September 2007, is a military academy located in in southeast of Tehran, affiliated with Iran's Air Defense Force. One of the major missions of the Khatam-al Anbia Air Defense Base is to defend Iran's air space constantly and in an effective way using full capacities of the country's air defense in the framework of a unified network which operates based on a ground-based air defense system. It is not to be confused with the IRGC’s Gharargah-e Sazandegi-ye Khatam al-Anbia (abbreviated GHORB), a conglomerate that employs more than 135,000 people and is Iran’s largest contracting company.
Iran shot down a US naval surveillance drone near the Strait of Hormuz on 20 June 2019. Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps said in a statement that it targeted the drone - which it identified as an RQ-4 Global Hawk - inside Iranian airspace over the southern province of Hormozgan, next to the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
The performance of Western coalition airpower against Serbian air defenses in Kosovo in 1999 spurred modernization focused on countering American power projection platforms and their associated communications and surveillance infrastructure. Land-based air defense and antiship missiles are a critical component of a new flexible response. First, they are fielded on a country’s sovereign territory, making a preemptive strike against them a significant escalation. Second, they can be hardened and dispersed, presenting a tougher target than a ship. Third, missile bases on land are a more capable and economical, though less flexible, method of deploying firepower to a given region. Without a data network to fuse multiple sensors, surface-to-air missile batteries become individual defenders in a one-onone engagement, a scenario that stealth aircraft have proved they can dominate since 1991. A Regional Operation Center (ROC) is a subset of Air Defense command and control network that duty to surveillance of country air space. Military Organizations try to use technology's advantages for increase effectiveness of Regional Operation Center as much as possible. In this way, using of a system based on Information and Communication Technology is one of the best solutions.
The air defense base was nearly nonexistent until 2005 when it diverged from the Iranian air force, a division of work aiming at guarding the country’s vast territory against possible threats in a more efficient way. Learning from the Iraqi invasion of the country in the 1980s, Tehran has developed its homegrown military technology to upgrade its defense capabilities. In December 2011, a U.S. stealth drone was downed undamaged by Iran’s air defense divisions in northeastern Iran as it was operating as part of a CIA reconnaissance mission, coming as a shock to U.S. army officials.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has emphasized air defense systems for obvious reasons. Ayatollah Khamenei, the Commander-in-Chief of armed forces, underscores this: “The Iranian Air Defense is at the forefront of safeguarding Iran's dignity and existence.” The Supreme Leader has always stressed flexible defense systems, and his strategy has been implemented by the armed forces in the context of designing, constructing and refurbishing Iran’s defensive capacities.
Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili, the current commander of the Khatam al-Anbia Air Defense Base, on January 12, 2012 at the ceremony of commemorating Martyr Sattari, said the Supreme Leader emphasized the mobile S-200 missile system. Seven months after the presentation of this strategy by the Supreme Leader of the revolution, the first S-200 missile defense system was unveiled. The S-200 is a long-range missile which can hit air targets at a range of 300 kilometers. Due to the heavy weight and mass of the missile, the mobility of this system, including radar, missile and the control system, is complicated but it has been thoroughly tested and proven to work.
“Sevom Khordad”, the home-made missile system, features a combination of all the essential components of a defense system such as a missile, fire control system, and radar tracking is among its unique capabilities. It is mobile and subject to changes of defense strategy, as needed, so the enemy cannot easily determine its operation. The system can simultaneously track four targets and shoot eight missiles. It seems that the tactic for Iranian commanders to use this system is due to high mobility and the integration of all systems on a chassis in the context of the “shoot-run” debate. The next point about the missiles is the additional use of 2b fighting missiles. These missiles are very similar to those of the Sam-6 missile and Russian systems, but they have the advantages of an optimal wing and tail design.
The “Talash” missile defense system, designed for high-altitude combat clashes, can search and track various targets that can be eventually destroyed by a missile from the “Sayyad” family. This system consists of several components: missile launcher, search and tracking radar, fire control, command and control cabin and monitoring units. The “Sayyad-3” missile, launched in July, 2017, is the latest member of the Sayyad rocket family. “Kamin -2” is the newest missile defense system in Iran The “Kamin-2” missile system was unveiled as the newest missile system in our country during the current year's military parade in Tehran. This missile system, which is in fact a portable and upgraded “Mersad” missile system, is capable of combating drone and unmanned aerial bombers at low altitudes. The system features a missile named “Shahin” which is capable of destroying targets at a distance of 45 to 50 kilometers, and the missile's guidance system is “Fire and Forget”. All components are portable in the “Kamin -2” defense system.
Along with these defense systems, which are the most important defense weapons of the country with air mobility platforms, other systems such as Raad, Tabas, Herz 9, Toor M1, etc., also have the ability to enhance the organization of air defense of the country. Due to the increasing proliferation of anti-radiation weapons in the world, the mobility of defense systems is crucial for effective protection of Iran.
The IRGC shot down a US Navy RQ-4A global Hawk drone that had entered Iranian airspace in the Persian Gulf region to gather intelligence 20 June 2019, using Sevom Khordad [aka Raad / Taer / 3rd Khordad] indigenous surface-to-air missile system. The United States confirmed that one of its reconnaissance planes was shot down by Iranian air defenses, but denied that it intruded into Tehran’s airspace at the time.
Commander of the IRGC Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said that his forces could have shot down a US P8 aircraft with 35 on board which was violating Iran’s airspace, but decided to shoot down the drone to only send a message to Washington. “We intended to send a message to American terrorists in the region,” Brigadier General Hajizadeh said on 21 June 2019, adding that his forces had also traced a military P8 aircraft violating the airspace of Iran. “Along with the American drone was an American P8 aircraft with 35 on board, and it was also violating our airspace and we could have downed it too,” he said, adding, “But we did not do (shoot down) it, because our aim was to warn the terrorist forces of the US.”
General Hajizadeh also stressed on 21 June 2019 that Iran was not after war but was fully ready to defend itself, adding that the fate of the downed US spy drone was waiting for any intruding flying object. “Our response to anything trespassing Iranian territory is like this, and if such acts of aggression are repeated, our response will also be the same," General Hajizadeh said. “We don’t embrace war but we are ready to fully defend the country,” he said.
"We possess a collection of US drones which is a proof that US has violated Iran’s airspace and shows that they don’t want to respect the international law,” General Hajizadeh said. “If such an aggression is repeated, we will add other US (military) products to complete this collection,” he noted. “The US measure was in violation of international law and we acted according to our legitimate responsibility,” General Hajizadeh said, adding, “It is possible that a US general or some operators were behind this American aggression, we don’t know that. But that measure (intruding into Iranian airspace) is a violation of international aviation rules by a spy drone which then received our natural response."
Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh downplayed war rhetoric by the American officials, stressing that the US and other countries do not dare to make aggression against Iran. "The Americans did not respect the international laws in the drone downing incident and the (IRGC) unit deployed in the region has acted upon its responsibility to destroy the drone," General Hajizadeh told reporters in the Western province of Ilam on 26 June 2019. He noted that the Americans, as usual, did not pay attention to the warnings of the Iranian commanders and officials and viewed them as rhetoric, and said, "We acted upon the law. The Americans should watch their behavior as not all countries would obey them."
General Hajizadeh said that the Iranian Armed Forces will continue defending the country's borders powerfully, and added, "Neither the US nor any other country dares to make an aggression against Iran's soil." He downplayed the US war rhetoric against Iran, saying that the enemy lacks any determination to do so and today this has been proved to everyone.
Iran's technology and capabilities have made the enemies review their equations about Iran and these capabilities have shocked all experts in strategic affairs. The capability that Iran has gained was a powerful message and I believe that the power balance has fully changed in the region," Rashid al-Rashid, senior analyst and a member of al-Amal al-Islami party, told Fars New Agency on 26 June 2019. He noted that Iran was the first country which could shoot down a US Global Hawk drone, adding that Tehran had also earlier displayed its power when it detained the US navy sailors after they entered its territorial waters in 2016. "Iran's shooting down of the US intruding drone also shocked those regional states which attempted to coax the West into confrontation against Iran. The incident returned all countries to their natural position and at present all regional states are aware of their capability and power vis a vis Iran," al-Rashid said.
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