After Iran Nuke Deal, Russia to Deliver S-300 Missile Systems

Thanks in part to the Iran nuclear deal, Russia now plans to deliver as many as four S-300 missile systems to the country, according to a news report.

Here’s what Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said about the long-delayed plan to send three or four of the advanced surface-to-air missile systems to the Islamic republic, according to an article today from the state-owned RT television network:

As things stand now, this topic is closed. We have reached full understanding on the matter together with our Iranian partners. The question has been fundamentally solved. The rest is just technical details.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin in April lifted a voluntary hold on the weapons sale, which dates to 2007, apparently over progress in talks between Iran and Western countries to curb the country’s nuclear ambitions.

That’s precisely what has worried some U.S. officials. The pact would allow the Islamic republic to pursue a limited atomic program for peaceful purposes over the next decade — but also lift economic sanctions and a key arms embargo.

Here’s what Marie Harf, the spokeswoman for the State Department, said after Putin made his comments in April, according to a transcript of her remarks:

“Well, I saw what he said. As we have made very clear, we have significant concerns about the – their intention to lift the hold on the transfer of this – the sale of this defensive system to Iran. We’ve previously made our objections known. We, look, aren’t going to speculate into Russia’s decision making. I think that was part of what he talked about today. Certainly the case that Russia’s economy has been under incredible strain and that, as some press reports have noted, it may be that Russia is doing this purely for the money involved given they need an influx of finances given the state of their economy … we agree with what President Putin did say that we don’t expect this to impact the unity of the P5+1 inside the negotiating room. He said that, and we certainly believe the same.”

Russia and China pushed hard for the embargo to end as the two countries stand to benefit from increased trade of conventional arms and ballistic missiles with Iran.

The Iranians have for years wanted the S-300. They even went so far as to file a multi-billion-dollar lawsuit against the Russians over the delay, though that complaint is reportedly being dropped. Even Ali Shakhmani, the head of the Iran’s national-security council, is optimistic the sale will go through, according to an article from the Russian news agency TASS:

“I think they will be supplied this year,” he said.

Congress still has to approve the Iran deal for it to take effect. Regardless, if the sale does go through, watch for defense hawks to cite it as justification for more funding for fifth-generation stealth fighters such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter designed to counter such threats.

About the Author

Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of Military.com. He can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.
  • NathanS

    IMHO if this comes to pass, there will be more pressure to sell the F-35 to Saudi Arabia.

    • blight_asdfljsadf

      It would hilariously nullify the Gulf State’s investment in new F-15 and F-16…and force them to get some EW. Hah, the American arms industry wins again.

  • Lance

    F-35 wont survive Iranian air defense. We need F-22 and F-15Es to do the job. Face it Obama wants this he wants Iran to have a bomb and to have some of the most formable air defense available.

    • Tomato juice

      We did fine in Iraq. We will do the same, with or without the f35.

      • IHTFP

        Iraq didn’t have the S-300.

      • blight_

        “We did fine in 1991, we’ll do fine the second time” sounded great in 2003…

        Also, Iraq does not equal Iran. Iraq was under “sanctions” and surrounded by unfriendly countries. Iran has its back to the Russians (not our friends), the Afghans (not our friends). Using Afghanistan as a staging point for a westward offensive into the eastern parts of Iran would exacerbate our crappy supply situation…unsure if Pakistan would cut us off again if we did it.

        And this is before we even make guesses about how cool a F-15 would be flying against S-300. If the package is USAF, it flies out of Turkey or one of the stans. If we make deals with the other stans, maybe we can fly out of Manas again. The USAF will probably eviscerate the Iranian Air Force, but it still doesn’t address the S-300 problem. And without Air Force EW, it falls to the Navy to bring Growlers. And if the Navy wants to go it alone from the coast, it needs refuelers from the Air Force to go deep into Iran, unless the plan is to plink the remnants of the Iranian Navy and some AAA positions along the coast.

        Maybe if we’re lucky we know where the S-300’s are. If they’re sited on high ground, then the plan will be to fly through valleys and avoid radar coverage. Of course, this channelizes our aircraft and leaves them vulnerable to short-range AD. B-2’s might have to take the lead with liberal dosage of JDAM’s all over the countryside, starting with SAM sites. It may even require a six month sustained aerial campaign ahead of time to reduce their air defense systems before rolling in the rest of the conventional air force.

    • NathanS

      The F-15E has no RCS reduction at all - and wouldn’t last long against a system like the S400. You need a stealth air-craft to even be in the ball-game.

      The F-35’s RCS is about the same as a small bird, and is designed to operate in these environments.

    • DavidT

      Really…? I’m sure you’re the top man the Pentagon looks to when it comes to analysis of Iranian air defences. In case you’re not:

      F-15E’s were shot down in Desert Storm by simple anti-aircraft artillery and by a SA-2, a SAM introduced in the 1950’s. They wouldn’t fare any better against an advanced version of the S-300. Meanwhile since at least 2011, the U.S. has had a (possibly several) S-300(‘s) to evaluated against our UAV’s and F-35’s at the Tonopah Test Range. Russia definitely doesn’t have an F-35 and its doubtful they have complete and accurate specs on the F-35 (unless they were in Hillary’s email box) to evaluate against giving a Lighting II strike a major advantage.

      And while Obama had made some poor decisions that have led to even worse outcomes, I guarantee that a progressive like him does not wish to see more countries proliferate. In the end, Barack Obama is an American and doesn’t want a nation that still, after refers to the United States as “The Great Satan” for decades to have such a destructive weapon.

    • duker

      The agreement means there is no bomb for the foreseeable future. You are being swept up Israeli hype designed to keep Netanyahu in power with only a third of the votes.

      • IHTFP

        The main opposition leader, Isaac Herzog, also opposed the nuclear deal.
        Iran, he said, is an “empire of evil and hate that spreads terror across the region,” adding that, under the terms of the deal, Iran “will become a nuclear-threshold state in a decade or so.” Iran will take its post-sanctions windfall, he said, and use the funds to supply more rockets to Hezbollah in Lebanon, more ammunition to Hamas in Gaza, and “generally increase the worst type of activities that they’ve been doing.”

    • David

      I’m pretty sure Israeli f16s pushed aside Russian integrated air defenses in syria when they attacked the Homs nuclear site. Russia builds hyped up junk.

    • wpnexp

      Yet I suppose you think the A-10 will survive IRans air defenses?

  • IHTFP

    Said it last month, but bears repeating.
    When Russia announced its willingness to sell S-300 air defense systems to Iran thanks to the nuclear deal framework, the Daily Beast reported that fourth-gen fighters wouldn’t stand much of a chance against it.

    “A complete game changer for all fourth-gen aircraft. That thing is a beast and you don’t want to get near it,” said a senior U.S. Marine Corps aviator.
    “It also essentially makes Iran attack-proof by Israel and almost any country without fifth-gen capabilities,” said a senior Air Force commander.
    “The double-digits SAMs give all of the fourth-gen jets great pause,” said a senior Air Force official.

    The article also talked about relying more on the B-2 bomber than the F-35.

    “The Air Force’s tiny fleet of B-2 stealth bombers would have to do most of the work because only those aircraft have the range and weapons needed to hit those [deeply buried and scattered] targets properly. The introduction of any version of the S-300 would make that extremely difficult job much more challenging, said an Air Force official with extensive experience flying stealth aircraft. “If they’re all over every square inch of the country, then it doesn’t matter what you put out there—it’s going to be a challenge.””

    • blight_asdfljsadf

      B-2 has the range. Talk up the carriers all you want, but to strike deep targets you’d need a refueling package. Hopefully not as complex as Black Buck with numerous buddy refuelers strung out along the way, and refueling the buddy refuelers. Yuck.

  • mpower6428

    Iran will get the S-300… so what…?! we have a $1.5 TRILLION ( thus far ) stealth fighter program ( F-35 ) that will defeat ANYTHING on the face of the earth….. right…? right…? right…? is that an echo….? echo…? echo…?

    Say what you want about Obama but, at least he’s trying to avoid another Reagan-esk cold war arms race with every half-assed dispensationalist 3rd world theocratic crap hole that finally figures out how to split a uranium atom.

    good day ladies, don’t forget to kneel when you pray…..

  • dick cheney

    This was expected. People are ticked off because the U.S. didn’t sell those to Iran.

  • blight_asdf

    Anyone know how many S-300 systems were agreed upon? And what type? Is it S-300PMU1 or PMU2? Antey-2500 (exported to Venezuela)? Surveillance and tracking radars? Specific missiles? Or there’s S-300PMU3 (also called S-400).

    • extreme_one

      4 system. Increased by 1 compared to the old deal. The version is not public yet. Just that it is a “newer” version of S-300

  • McPosterdoor

    Iran doesn’t need s-300 from Russia. As this site already told us they’ve had their own home made S-300 systems for at least 5 years now. Why would they want the Russian’s??? Heh heh.
    http://live-defensetech.sites.thewpvalet.com/2010/04/19/iranian-s-300-s…

    • Mason

      Because its probably as good as their “Stealth fighter” made out of wood, or their drone made that is the exact one from a picture of a drone from a japanese university.

  • TheRev

    Whether the nuke deal went through or not, Iran now knows for sure the US and Israel will be spoiling for a fight. Iran is being smart and quickly, quietly preparing for the inevitable.

  • CaptObvious

    Relax - The S-300 isn’t invisible. We’ll keep tabs on them.

  • Richard

    Playing devils advocate: Well, I would say in all fairness, we shouldn’t be allowed to say whether a country can or can’t have defensive weapons. I think that would be like china saying we are not aloud to build devices that detect missiles. But, this could also go wrong by saying that they should be allowed to have nukes too for defense and I think that would be too far.

  • Caracoid

    As I’ve been saying for nearly ten years, the Iraq war will ultimately be judged by what happens in Iran. If talk-talk ends up working, Iraq will be considered a boondoggle. If it doesn’t, Iraq will be seen as a prescient move and Iran will be referred to as the new Munich.

    How can anyone have any doubt as to the outcome of our dealings with Iran when we did the exact same thing with N. Korea, which now has the bomb?

    The human capacity for denial has no limits.

    • David

      “How can anyone have any doubt as to the outcome of our dealings with Iran when we did the exact same thing with N. Korea, which now has the bomb?

      Exactly. All we are doing now with this blatantly one sided “deal” is subsidizing Iran’s development of nuclear weapons. In a year or two when it is found they have been cheating they’ll get another deal, which once again is really a bribe that they’ll accept and do what they want anyway. At least the current president can claim a hollow victory while kicking the can down the road for someone else to deal with at which point Iran will be much more dangerous.

  • Aleksandar011

    Just wondering, can 4th generation planes armed with cruise missiles like Storm Shadow/Scalp, AGM-158 JASSM and similar destroy S-300? Or is it necessary to built hypersonic missiles to take out those?

  • blight_asdf

    Very curious to see how the KM-SAM (developed with help from Almaz, the makers of S-300 and S-400) pans out.

    Otherwise, our chance of practicing against properly operated modern S-300 and S-400 isn’t all too likely. We have late Cold War S-300PS, and maybe newer PMU1 from the black market, but PMU2 and S-400? The S-400’s haven’t hit the export market yet, so it’ll be mostly coveting PMU2 for the time being.

  • Brian B. Mulholland

    Let us hope, then, that the spooks can penetrate Iranian military circles well enough to learn the system’s fine details. Perhaps we might even manage to filch the odd circuit board or two?

  • Vitor

    Iran has all the right to acquire good defense weapons. And I dont get it why all the chicken hawks here are so eager to have a “new enemy” to invade and attack. Nothing will be gained, the USA will be even in more debt, a lot of non-intended crap will happen, thousands of iranians will perish by stupid reasons.

  • Eduardo Cohen

    Iran would love to have positive relations with the United States based on mutual respect and cooperation. We have overthrown their democratically elected government in 1953 because they wanted to nationalize their own oil, imposed a quarter century of repression under the Shah and his secret police SAVAK, shot down an Iranian Air Liner in Iranian air space killing all 290 passengers on board and encouraged and supported Iraq in waging an eight year war against Iran in which as many as a half million Iranians were killed. The Iranian government has done nothing to us. Students took over the US embassy in Teheran in 1979 because the United States refused to return Shah Reza Palavi to Iran to stand trial for his crimes against the people of Iran. (It is estimated that at least 20,000 Iranian citizens were tortured or killed in the dungeons and torture chambers of SAVAK which was trained by the Israeli Mossad and the US CIA. If anything we should offer them a serious and sincere apology for all the transgressions we’ve carried out against them. Its surprising that they still wish to be our friends. We should take advantage of that and stop making enemies of people who would rather be our friends. And they certainly have the right to defend themselves.

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