Iran unveiled on Saturday what authorities said was a locally upgraded radar system with a range of 400 km (250 miles) that could help defend against cruise and ballistic missiles and drones.
The announcement comes at a time of rising tension between Iran and United States. Iran shot down a U.S. military surveillance drone in the Gulf with a surface-to-air missile in June. Tehran says the drone was over its territory, but Washington says it was in international airspace.
State television showed the Falaq, a mobile radar and a vehicle housing a control room, which it said was an improved version of the Gamma, a system that military experts said was of Russian origin.
Western military analysts say Iran often exaggerates its weapons capabilities, though concerns about its long-range ballistic missile program contributed to Washington last year exiting the pact that Iran sealed with world powers in 2015 to rein in its nuclear ambitions in exchange for an easing of economic sanctions.
“This system has high capabilities and can detect all types of cruise and ballistic missiles and drones,” Brigadier General Alireza Sabahifard, commander of the regular army’s air defenses, was quoted as saying by semi-official news agency Mehr.
Sabahifard said the Falaq was a locally overhauled version of a system which had been out of operation for a long time, Mehr reported. He did not give the system’s country of origin.
The Falaq is a phased-array radar system which can be incorporated into Iran’s larger integrated air defense, which includes an S-300 surface-to-air missile system that Russia delivered in 2016, state-run Press TV said.
“The (Falaq) system was developed in order to counter sanctions restricting access to spare parts of a previously foreign-developed system,” Press TV said on its website.
U.S. President Donald Trump reimposed sanctions on Tehran after pulling out of the nuclear deal, which its other signatories are struggling to maintain as Washington also lobbies to establish a maritime security coalition to safeguard shipping in the Gulf in a related standoff with Iran over oil supplies.
Iran installed the S-300 system in March 2016 following several years of delay after a nuclear agreement reached with world powers allowed the lifting of international sanctions.
According to a Mehr report, “sanctions, lack of spare parts, and the inability of foreign engineers to repair the system led the Iranian experts… to fully reconstruct the system and unveil the new system…’”
The announcement came amid heightened tensions between the US and Iran with drones downed and tankers mysteriously attacked in Persian Gulf waters.
Iran has seized three tankers in the Gulf since last month, including the British-flagged vessel.
For his part, Mohammad Alaeddin, researcher on Iran: said that Tehran did not stop attempts to develop ballistic missile program even after signing the nuclear agreement in mid-2015, reports of Western intelligence services revealed frantic attempts to develop the missile system and expand the range, but that does not mean Believing the Iranian declaration of the capabilities of its new weapons, it is often discovered the existence of large exaggerations in those capabilities.
He said in a statement to «reference» that the Iranian missile defense program is one of the most dangerous files on global security and stability, and reveals the deceptive Iranian face for all, which is embodied in the so-called «Jafza’i», which Iran is trying to complete despite previous allegations, which has been repeated by officials To have missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.