Iranian S-300 SAMs, Or a Bunch of Oil Drums Welded Together?

Israel has let it be known that it regards Iran’s acquisition of the Russian built S-300 surface-to-air missile system, considered roughly equivalent to the Patriot missile, to be a red line that would likely prompt an Israeli aerial attack. Iran placed an order for the S-300 (NATO designation SA-20) way back in 2005, but Russia says the SAMs are on backorder and has no idea when or if they’ll become available.

Well, Aviation Week’s David Fulghum spotted something fishy in a photo from Iran’s Army Day parade in Tehran that took place on Sunday. The vehicle in the picture is a Bakr-series tank carrier with what looks to be 55-gal. drums welded together and painted to resemble S-300 launchers, he says.

Below the jump, the Moscow parade version. You make the call.

— Greg

  • Jac

    Iran wants the US or Israel to attack it. Doesn’t everyone see that? And the US and or Israel are just dumb enough to do it.

    • Freeyourself

      ooooorrrr, and just bear with me here. . . .Iran is just being a jackass in the international community (read the other reply to your comment) and the world needs to do the responsible thing and cripple this country’s military at the very least. i’m mean last time I saw someone going around town stabbing people, the cops put that person in jail for a looooooong time. or was he just trying to get the cops to do the stupid thing and retaliate???

    • Cyrus

      I totally agree with Jac. The regime in Tehran wants to control and become the leader of the Islamic World at any cost, even massacre it own people (so far executed 1 million Iranians who opposed the regime), and the only way into the heart of Muslims is to destroy Israel. Israel is a ‘one-bomb country’, i.e. one nuclear bomb over Tel Aviv and the end of Israel. I’m pretty sure, Mullahs have one or two of those bombs at their disposal, perhaps purchased from North-Koreans, and the only way to justify the destruction of Israel, is to act as victims and retaliation.

  • Alex

    At least those oil drums aren’t mounted on a camel, eh? You’ve gotta give ’em that.

    • Mohammad

      Do you have any idea what a full oil drum can do to a super sonic airplane traveling at 85 thousand feet? An empty one can do just as much in those conditions! what do you have to say about that?

  • BLight

    I’m trying to measure length of tubes by counting the rings, and the bottom picture appears to have more rings, so longer?

    Might be a shorter ranged missile that works with the same fire control systems? Regardless, wouldn’t put it past Iran to have semi-advanced air defense.

    • RAMIS


    • Chris

      Exactly how will a oil drum possibly get up to hit a supersonic plane. Magic. Camel jockey sand nigs all they are.

  • Byron Skinner

    Good Evening Folks,

    In a business I was once in those would be called a “Display Prop”. Impressive to the untrained eye, not very to those who know what they should be seeing. Really when you come down to it all of Iran is just a “Prop”.

    Byron Skinner

    • Cyrus

      Do tell…

  • Buzz

    Guys the russian stuff in the picture are fakes. Everyone of the missiles you see in these parades are just mock ups. Always have been. Russia doesnt have enough of these systems for russian units and cant build them so why give them to the iranians.

    • sail4evr

      Iranians pay cash. russian units don’t pay because they don’t have any free cash.

    • Stratege

      “Russia doesnt have enough of these systems for russian units and cant build them so why give them to the iranians.”

      Is it joke? S-300 systems were in mass production for Soviet/Russian army.

  • Those are wider than 55 gallon drums. Maybe they’re fakes, but maybe they’re Iranian kludges?

    • mmitch

      more like iranian ‘sludges’ left from the oil

  • Benson

    Hard to tell. Here’s another one showing the rings on real S-300s.

    With the exception of the colors, they look pretty similar.

  • Buzz

    Guys they are all fakes. The russians dont have the ability to build more than one system a year and all of the missiles you see on parade are fakes. After the wall feel and the russkis admited they were fakes the CIA freaked. They had been basing their security threat accessments on their being real.

    • Jee

      And the Russian lasers we were so scared of, countering with our SDI (fake), were fakes. There were no giant lasers.

      • Stratege

        No. Soviet Polyus-Skif laser space station wasn’t fake. Soviets researched laser weaponary way before USA did their first combat laser tests. USSR tested their own airborne laser (A-60) three decades before Laser Boeing did similar things.

    • Stratege

      You are so wrong.
      A few (four or five) of S-400 divisions were supplied to the Russian army. Each division contains a number of launch vehicles (8 x 4 = 32 missiles), missiles reloading vehicles, command-staff vehicle and radar vehicles.

      • Chris

        Russia is a farce. Their military is In shambles compared to their Soviet might. They Americans never stop stock piling and investing in new technology that has the rest of the world decades behind.

        Just remember what we see today was top secret in the 80’s. We won’t see what they really have until 2034 what’s made now. Laser. You bet. Satellite missile shield and place you bet your bottom dollar. Russia’s nukes are useless and they know it. Some will make it through. Most won’t.

  • PhilC

    To me, the Iranian tubes look fake. The trucks aren’t ‘complicated’ enough to support them either (compare with the Russian ones with all their hatches etc.). As for the tubes themselves, they are lacking significant detail such as clamps about halfway down, handles on the lids – heck those lids are in no way as sturdy as the real ones. The rings themselves are less substantial. It’s 100% a sham. And not a good one either. Did the Iranians parade any ‘support’ vehicles including radar system?

  • Tony C

    Take s shrike to the RADAR’s and the system will be useless. No matter which air defense system is used, the RADAR has to be actively scanning or there will be no target acquisition. Beam rider missiles have the advantage in the counter measures. The electronically steered beams are still active scans, although using lower power than the older multichannel systems. The problem for the Iranian’s (or anyone else in Air Defense) is determining if the target is a drone, aircraft, or missile. Drones make good decoys and they carry missiles too.

  • Pete

    If this isn”t “slam dunk smoking gun evidence” that Iran “is only 45 minutes away from launching WMD”, I don’t know what is. Come on. surely we can scrape together another Trillion dollars from the Chinese and a few thousand more American lives, to get these evil doers. These godless commies have got to be shown who is the boss around here.

    • Cyrus


  • Mike Burleson

    I say we send over about a dozen B-2s to find out for sure. And while were over there…

  • Ed!

    I am going to use a poker term here. I can see the Iranian’s tell here by lookign specifically at the TEL. Why would the Russians give them just the missiles and not the TEL to go with them? The Iranian truck has a full cab, the Russian version does not. The Russians would sell them the whole setup.

  • Philo

    P.S> isn’t this the same country that used toy model planes on their military air force pictures? LOL

    • samio

      What do you think about your comment now?

  • John Moore

    Exactly its not what you have but what your enemies think you have that keeps you safe.

    Isreal is the one threating everyone, if any other country said the things they say would we stand by them NOPE.

    I aint for Iran but I am for being fair and this just stinks of one being totally 1 sided and I think honestly the world is getting tired of being the security backdrop for Isreal.

    • Philo

      Hey John,

      If you stole my car, raped my wife, beat up my kids, and threw rocks through my windows every day, and I told you next time you step onto my property, I was going to put some lead through your brain-pan, would it be correct to state that “I” was acting in a threatening manner???

    • praetorian

      John, I guess when Iran says “we are going to blow them off the face of the map”, thats not a threat ?? Isreal has had nukes for awhile and never
      threatend any other country with them. You are totally wrong with your whole statement.

      • sisyphus

        Israel threatens every country in its’ missiles’ strike radius with nuclear weapons every day, in exactly the same was as the US, Russia, China, the UK, France, Pakistan, India, and North Korea.

        The possession of nuclear weapons is equivalent to the threat of use.

        • crackedlenses

          If the possession of a weapon is the equivalent of threatening to use it, then you will find the world to be a very scary place, my friend….

      • Informer

        Israel has never threatened to use nuclear weapons?! I would have thought you might know better, with the historical reference in your name… read up on the Yom Kippur War, please. Including this, Israel has openly threatened to nuke other nations no less than FIFTEEN times.

  • Philo

    If it’s a Russian made weapons system, they probably ARE 55-gallon drums……

    • Informer

      Interesting, since Russia was the first, and is the ONLY nation to produce the S-300 or 400 SAM systems, which even the Pentagon admits are a decade ahead of anything they themselves have to offer!

  • Philo

    For Comparison:

    >>>S300PMU SA-10 Grumble

    >>>S300V SA-12 Giant

    >>>S-400 Triumph

    >>>S-300PMU2 Favorit

    When compared, the Iranian version is an obvious fake. None the less, when a small yield nuke lands in Israel on the back of a medium range missile, this will be an academic discussion at best.

  • roland

    It looks like a modified oil drum. It’s a display prop!

    • roland

      On the other hand it could be real. Probably an Iranian’s S-400 SAM’s versions

    • SkysoldierRecon

      lol!!! me thinks 2!!

  • Oblat

    Wow how clueless is DT. It’s been known for a year that the Chinese are going to sell the HQ-9 Sam to Iran. I guess if it’s not contained in a US contractor press release DT doesn’t know about it.

  • willy

    They do totally really believe allah will make them missiles if Israel or USA attack. They even have mock launch buttons on them really rigged with mock cables or something.. :) :)

  • Byron Skinner

    Good Morning Folks,

    They are all empty containers, welded drums or actual missile transport containers I’m snot sure if any of it matters what isn’t on those ‘turcks”. Look at the rear suspensions, all are riding high.

    Byron Skinner

  • willy

    Remember those idiotic christian articles that used to air time to time a decade ago that no-one deared to comment because they were so affraid of lestadion assassins. Well that news about Iranian cleric blaiming immodest women of earth quaces and this article are about as effective.. :) :)

  • AAK

    Personally I’d prefer Iran wasn’t equipped with anything more lethal than a sharpened mango. But does Israel really believe they have the right to veto any other nations’ defence purchases? If you were an Iranian leader & were told ‘nope, you’re not allowed those defensive missiles’, would this make you more or less likely to want to buy them (or equivalent)?

    Iran has enough internal issues to keep occupied for a long time. The only thing likely to unite them is outside pressure. Taking their photoshopped rockets and ridiculous F-5 mods seriously is a waste of time.

    • will

      Well the full problem started when someone went and attacked Iraq and made a few muslims to rethink their position here in the west. Honestly does that position exist any more?
      I am against religion but perfected religion method would not differ in difference from communism or capitalism. They are all the same untill someone perfects them and then to the big thing:
      The less mistakes the more damage. We all know why we resist our certain things. Only way anything will solve is if privacy from other common folk is removed and that takes peace to allow talks. The also is no way to stop consuming these billions(but to kill the arabs) the strikes before the issues rigth next to your neighbours fence are solved. I mean those are least problems so they are in the “backage” of problems that has to go at once.. :) :)

    • Alex -DC

      Israel can’t veto their purchases but they can wipe out their cities.

      • Informer

        Is this supposed to be a good thing? “Israel” has wiped out enough cities already. These murderers are worse than the imaginary terrorists you people claim to hate…

    • Juliette

      Israel is not trying to veto Iran’s weapons purchases, they are trying to prevent a nation that has a mission statement of wiping Israel off the face of the world from acquiring advanced weapons.

      Let’s think before we post people…

      • AAK

        I agree. And thinking involves more than blind acceptance of anything Israel wants. It also involves considering just who Ahmadinejads ravings are aimed at, and their likelyhood of being carried out. By far the biggest threat to Middle East stability is an ill-considered Israeli strike on Iran.

        Being the thinker that you are, even if you believe a strike is fully justified, how would it be successful? What precisely would be achieved? How would the rest of the world respond? Would it increase or decrease Iranian funding to terrorists like Hamas etc? How about terrorist groups in Iraq? Would it make the moderate Iranian opposition stronger or weaker compared to the clerics and Ahmadinejad? And the question I posed in the original post – after a strike will they be more or less likely to want advanced weapons? Israeli airstrikes can do nothing except delay the inevitable and make a violent response a certainty. Iran is not Syria, nor Iraq circa 1981.

        • Informer

          Finally, somebody sees reason. Some targets, such as Russia, Iran, China etc; are simply beyond the stereotypical American tactic of brute force. Diplomacy and common sense/reason must be applied.

  • hibeam

    The Iranians obviously have the unguided version of the S-300.

  • Maxtrue

    Now stack those oil drums up against the Air Force’s latest drone. Oil drums are a bit cheaper…….

  • rob

    they look as sophisticated as a boxing glover on a spring!in fact i would bet that is exactly what those tubes contain!!

  • btc909

    Fake, the third tire is almost off the ground. I don’t see any means of the back end being able to raise up & fire the missles. No long range antenna to communicate with the S-300 when launched. Those tires are beyond cheap & if this was real they wouldn’t support the weight.

  • Pete

    THEY ARE NOT 44 GALLON DRUMS!. I don’t know what they are, but they certainly are nut drums welded together. I measured the wheel rim size (given in Wikipedia), then using SOLIDWORKS, transferred the diameter to the tubes. A standard drum is 580mm Diameter (just under two feet). These tubes are 870mm diameter.

    Not only that, but the reinfocement ribs on a drum are three per segment, and the ends are not convex like these ones are. So stop kidding yourelves that they are 44 gallon drums. Also the suspension is ‘not riding high’ as is claimed

    Its aggrogance like this that got you into Iraq and Afghanistan. You only see what you want to see.

    • Philo

      who said 44 gallon drums? Where do you get a 44 gallon drum Pete? They're all 55 gallons so far as I know. LOL

      Did you also measure the width and length of the platform carrying the Iranian “Missiles” as compared to the Russian?
      Didn't notice that the Iranian platforms are toy trucks compared to what comes with the Russians set up?
      Notice how thin the tires are compared to the Russian platform?
      You think those tires are gonna hold the S-model system up for the Iranians, when the Russians need some heavy duty rubber to do the same?

      Only see what you want indeed…

      CAPS LOCK PETE…….FEEL THE FURY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Pete

        208Litre / 44Imp GAl / 50 US GAL – iSO standards Org measurements. I didn’t say these were missiles, only that they were not drums. The measurements were taken from several references for calibration. Anyway its about tme you USians went metric. And even if the tubes were filled with concrete, the tires couldd handle the wieght, even at 2600kg/M3 thats only 22 tonne. A single B-747 tire supports 38Tonnes at take-off.

        You USians remind me of the saying, ” the dumber people think you are, the more suprised they are when you kill them”. Remember how the US used to disparage the Japs before WW2, saying they couldn’t fly because they had their sense of balance dissrupted by being carried on their mother’s backs when they were babies. And that they couldn’t shoot because they had slanted eyes?

        Boy, are you in for a shock. 2 years from now…..If I were you I would start stockpiling up on Sunscreen SP 2,000,000.

        • Philo

          yes yes Pete, we’re all sooo stoopid! That’s why the rest of the world is soooo far ahead of us in everything……

          P.S. How exactly did all that Japanese flying and shooting skills end up working out for them? History is written by the victors Pete, regardless of what some of them may have said before…

          P.S.S. Metric? Mehhhh People like you invented the “metric” system so you could end up with a higher number when measuring the length of your wanker……

  • / facepalm

    Those are Chinese Hong-9 SAMs,

    Here’s a link to an article on a Chinese website about it, more pics included which make them look less like oil drums welded together.

    • Wombat

      Yes those definitly look like Chinese HQ-9s. Do a Google Image Search and you can see nearly identical ones in Chinese digital camo-scheme

  • siconik

    Just look at the camo on the two units. The Russian one is will blend in really well in a Eurasian mixed forest. The Iranian one is… birght red and blue? Yeah, no one will ever spot that one from the air in the Middle East.

    One is functional military hardware, the other one is a parade prop.

  • roland

    These were probably chinese SAM’s

    • Maxtrue

      If S-300 have a hard time with Raptors as your link claims and most of our adversaries will acquire them or similar products, why did Gates cancel the Raptor, again? If the logic is that they were too expensive and had no post-cold war role, why aren’t more people questioning that decision given the predictable JSF meltdown and know threats of air defense sales, rather than guessing where the next S-400 pops up? Clearly these wars of the future would have to penetrate increasingly sophisticated air defenses. Or do I have it all wrong that the Raptor as well as other 5th gen fighters are no match for the new crop of missiles? And why facing these threats would the Israelis pick the F-35? Is it more likely to evade an eventual PAK FA or Typhoon?

      If I were Iran, I would be making as many decoys as possible. I read they are building phony silos. Last question: wouldn’t radar jamming aircraft be best stealthy as they are the first ones in? Again I read the JSF might take that role. Should the average Joe be concerned we are making strategic mistakes given the predictable scenarios looming ahead? Gates memos a lack of policy when perhaps it would have been wiser having more than 130 Raptors. Now would we really use the ones we have? China and Iran are guessing….no.

      just some questions from an interested civilian…..

      • Maxtrue

        “…and known threats of future air defense sales

        Is it more likely to evade better air defenses than the eventual PAK FA or Typhoon?”

        Sorry for the typos…

  • DZ

    There are pictures of the ‘s-300 radars’ are available here….

    any ideas about these…

  • Mystick

    My question is: Is that vehicle pictured in either provided photograph a transporter or a launcher? I don’t see any stabilization systems on either platform. Equal but opposite reaction and all when applying thousands of pounds of static thrust to a movable but stationary surface – like a launch platform.

    Second, those things we are seeing aren’t the missiles themselves, just the transport cocoons. Its conceivable that the Ruskies didn’t sell them the transport cocoons with the missiles… albeit fairly unlikely.

    Keep in mind also previous Iranian ‘showing of arms’ forgeries. Like that missile test photo that was edited. My money is on bluff, personally. Maybe an Iranian ‘false flag’ to goad Israel into an attack, pushing the Israelis off their shaky moral high ground. Not the first time Israel carried out attacks on Iran. I’m just wondering what our Iraqi air defenses will do when a bunch of IAF elements transverse ‘our’ airspace. Hell, who am I kidding? We’ll probably let the Israelis tank on one of our KC-135’s.

    • DHZ

      The edited missile take off picture taken was altered by a semi official new agency. The photos released by other news agencies did not contain the edited part…. The faked forgeries were the work of a news agency but everyone tries to make it look like it was intentionally altered by the military….. these kind of lies are common here in the west.

      • Mystick

        Ah…. it was my understanding that those were the released photos.

  • MGeekP

    Ha! That’s awesome :D

  • SkysoldierRecon

    the TRUCKS are different. The robust Russian model, and that p.o.s. the Iranians got those barrels on. REAL missles would be too heavy 4 the Iranian truck. Then again, im not an engineer

  • Chris

    Who paints royal blue camo on a missile truck anyway, besides Iran that is?

  • dave

    it is too soon to do judgement. let wait afterr couple months we will see it is fake or real. one important is if it be real it does the performance as russian s-300. even if it deose 75 % still is good for the third country . at least Israile will began new war.

  • Princeton
  • AAK

    I’d be more worried about the Wookie Battalion glimpsed around the 20s mark

  • shrug
  • boz

    If I only had a few, I wouldn’t parade them around. I would use”decoys”. I would have the REAL STUFF hid and the FAKES on the street.

  • LEP

    The Israeli newspaper “Haaretz” (Tel Aviv, Israel) reported today – 4/23/2010 (link pasted above), that Israeli experts also detected a radar that resembled a Russian or Chinese copy of radars used with the deployment of S-300 PMU1 SAMs. Naturally, they cannot discern if this radar is a real or a fake one. Even if it is a real one, it does not substantially alter Iranian air defense capabilities within the near future.

  • Sniper 1

    I would rather have them attack with drums because they wouldnt be able to throw the drums to far. Maybe roll them off and crush some people.

  • pete

    Yeah, keep thinking they are drums…..until they blow yoour shit aircraft out of the sky. The Poles in 1939 believed their own propaganda that the German tanks were made of canvass and wood.

  • Warlord

    if the s300 canisters are real then some video footge of them in action would go a long way in proving they are not fakes. lets see the aquisition radar and the other phased array units that complete the system. i do believe the iranians are capable of making a s300 eqivalent but i think iran has a pretty strong SAM capability without the S300s. their S200 SAMS (with a 315km range!) have been modified to use more than 1 firing channel and all their missile seeker heads have now been digitized to improve ECCM capalilites. their new shain missile system is brand new too, with advanced signall processing and ECM resistance. iran can now produce electonic warfare equipment and lets not forget they already have 2 REAL S300PMU units in Tehran which they can reverse engineer if they so wish to.

  • Anonymous

    This site:… shows pictures of Russian operated S-300 and S-400 systems. First the post labelled “S-300pmu2” shows the lauchers deployed. Notice the relatively small profile of the erector. Lower down under “S-300 systems Russian Army” the launch tubes are shown in the transport position. Note that the erector is not visible at all from this position. This belies the assertion on Aviation Week by an unnamed Israeli “intelligence analyst” that the system must be a mockup because the erectors are not visible. Also note the identical design and dimensions in all these photos of the launch tubes including the ribbed supports on the tubes. Thus; the system is most likely a Russian S-300pmu1 or 2 system and not a Chinese one given the prominent erector and different support rib design used on by the Chinese system.

  • Lally

    The trucks’ rear suspension has to be a little high in this configuration; when the tubes go up, the weight transfers to the back.

  • warlord

    iran cannot be attacked without using nukes now. they are too powerfull.

  • Superman

    Looks like dead jews to me

  • Jacky


  • Rasa Afghan

    Hello and asalam alikom to every one!
    If Iran wants to say that our country is an islamic country and we are muslim people so why they kill inoccent people of Afghanistan, Iran protect taliban in Afghanistan to kill our innocent people and kill nato military.
    Iran, Pakistan and UAE is the mother of Taliban and the mother of these country are USA.
    America in one day ******** taliban in Afghanistan, but today their is 54 country in afghanistan for fighting against of Taliban.
    Why they can’t defeat Taliban?
    the answer is simple…. Taliban is poppet of these countries.

    • SHAB


  • arrian

    thats total Bullsh*t. we all know Iran bluffs sometimes bout their military power but really? Air defences? do u rely think they would joke bout such an important tool of defence against an Air strike? Naww. it is said that those s-300 systems are either Chinese or were deployed to Iran from a former soviet nation like Kazaghystan , idk the exact country.

  • Alen

    iran is poweful contry in the world..

  • ToM
  • Iran

    FROM IRAN: with s300 or without s300 not a difference, we can still defend our selves we are use to do it for about 17000years against 1000s of punk ass forces like US and still we are standing and this means Iranians have won all those battles. US & UK want to put a puppet leader in Iran so that they can take advantages out of it, like before 1979,

    US, Israel,Australia, you people don’t have even a land of your selves you have invaded those lands by killing all the natives(philistines and native Americans and Australians) , you don’t have history and no culture, you don’t have even an honor, your honor is to bomb another people, that is all you got, to leave as leeches cuase again there is nothing in the lands stolen by you so that you can make money out of it , that is why you are leeches and you will be livving as a leech forevr

  • Dave Mirkozi

    David Fulghum has deleted his analysis, he was wrong.

  • Restore Palestine

    The Russian S-300 is vastly superior to the Patriot, which was a POS according to Israeli engineers before repeated software updates had been installed. Even now, the Patriot is nowhere as reliable and potent as the S-300. To say S-300 is comparable to the POS aka Patriot is an insult to the S-300.

  • MPA

    Ah US propaganda in favor of Israel. If they are oil drums, why hasn’t mighty Israel sent jets to take them out?

  • Ty Kennedy

    Well, whatever these are, I guess we all should work together over resolving issues among countries. Seeing tankers like these on parade (whether real or fake) surely is scary. Makes you think what’s going on.

    brisbane welding