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Riding Off Success of New Satellite, Iran Official Calls for Creation of Permanent Space-Based Radar

Sputnik News

Ilya Tsukanov. Sputnik International
13:48 GMT 21.11.2020(updated 15:32 GMT 21.11.2020)

Tehran achieved a major breakthrough with its space programme in April, launching the Noor-1 (lit. 'Light-1') military satellite into orbit. US Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond derided the spacecraft as a mere "tumbling webcam in space". However, in July, Iran released detailed satellite images of the largest US base in the Middle East.

Building on the success of its previous endeavours, Iran needs to move to the development and construction of space-based radars, Deputy Defence Minister Brig. Gen. Qassem Taqizadeh has said.

"Sooner or later, we will need space-based radars. We must pursue this issue in the country's scientific communities and have the necessary context in this regard to ensure that the country does not suffer from any 'strategic technological surprises' in the future," Taqizadeh said, speaking at a conference on radar and monitoring systems on Saturday, his remarks quoted by Tasnim.

Praising Iranian scientists and industries for their efforts in expanding Iran's capabilities in radar technologies, including passive and active phased array radars, the deputy defence minister said these efforts were aimed at "thwarting the enemy's electromagnetic onslaught" and ensuring the operation of sophisticated and effective Iranian air defences.

Advanced radar applications are useful in the civilian sector as well, Taqizadeh said, citing their ability to reduce road accidents and fatalities, help ensure border security, and be used in other areas including meteorology, air traffic control and agriculture.

Citing the regional conflicts on Iran's borders, as well as Tehran's mission to assist the Syrian government in its fight against terrorism, Taqizadeh stressed that "these conflicts provide us with lessons and experience, the most important of which is the need for strong defence at various levels. To become stronger, we must focus on industrial research in the fields of radio waves and radars, because radars and surveillance systems ultimately serve the security and development of the country."

In the past two decades, Iran has become one of the top developers and manufacturers of military radars in the world, creating both vehicle-mountable 3D phased-array systems capable of detecting small aircraft, drones, and micro-air vehicles (MAVs), and larger strategic 3D phased-array systems, which military officials have claimed can effectively 'see into' US military bases near Iran's borders at distances between 400 and 800 km.

Iran's Space Programme

Iran established a space programme in the early 2000s and became the first Muslim nation to independently launch a satellite into orbit in February 2009. Since that time, the Iranian Space Agency successfully launched three more research satellites into orbit, and tested two series of space rockets. In 2013, Iran sent a monkey into orbit and retrieved it after a 15-minute flight. In 2016, the Iranian Space Agency announced plans to send astronauts into space by 2025.

In April 2020, the Revolutionary Guard, previously unknown to have had a functioning space programme, successfully launched the Noor-1 surveillance satellite into orbit aboard a Qased ('Messenger') rocket, with the spacecraft sending signals back to ground monitoring stations in Tehran Zahedan and Chabahar.

Iranian media touted Noor-1's launch as a sign that the Revolutionary Guard had "reached such technological maturity that it can now confidently plan and carry out intelligence warfare and military reconnaissance missions from space while gathering data that helps keep the Iranian skies safe."

The Pentagon initially dismissed the satellite as a "tumbling webcam in space", but appeared to have received its comeuppance in July, when the Revolutionary Guard released detailed, coloured and thermal images of Al-Udeid Air Base – the Qatar-based home of the US military's Central Command.

In late September, the Revolutionary Guard inaugurated a new National Aerospace Park in Tehran, showing off the Middle Eastern nation's advances in missile, rocket, radar, engine, defence electronics, drone and satellite technologies.

© Sputnik

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