Iran’s air defense chief Gen. Farzad Esmaili boasted Tuesday, Nov. 12, that a new air defense system was successfully tested during a “massive” ongoing military exercise, which he said was “a message and a strong slap to those countries that threaten [us].”
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the six-day Iranian air defense drill is Tehran’s answer to the joint three-week US-Israeli maneuver – Austere Challenge 2012 – which is drilling defenses against an Iranian or Syrian ballistic missile attack on Israel.
Monday, four US and Israeli Patriot anti-missiles missiles shot down four out of four mock Iranian missiles from the Israeli air base at Palmachim. Tuesday, the Iranians paraded a new air defense system modeled on the US Hawk system. Earlier reports said the new surface-to-air system is named “Mersad,” or Ambush. It was capable of locking on a flying object at a distance of 80 kilometers (50 miles) and able to hit from 45 kilometers (30 miles) away, Iranian state TV said.
The Iranians have apparently upgraded the American Hawk system, say our military sources, but not all its touted specifications are confirmed. Even if they are, Iran’s latest military exercise shows it cannot match missile interceptors on the high order of the US and Israeli Aegis, THAAD and Arrow. These systems are capable of pinpointing ballistic and cruise missiles the moment they are launched by means of the highly sophisticated US X-band radar stations, one of which is located in the Israeli Negev, and shooting them down hundreds of kilometers before they approach their targets.