Key Point: Improved Iranian missile defense might dissuade a U.S. attack.
On August 22, Iran unveiled to much fanfare its Bavar-373 mobile long-range air defense system in a Defense Industry Day event attended by President Hassan Rouhani. In a speech, he elucidated at length on the rationale behind the weapon’s nomenclature by comparing it to Russian surface-to-air missiles.
“Its number is between 300 and 400. It's 373. In any case, his system is stronger than the S-300 and very close to the S-400.” The latter is arguably the most capable long-range surface-to-air missile system on the planet, and the former is its well-respected predecessor.
Iran also shared launch footage of the Bavar-373’s Sayyad-4 missiles, which supposedly is capable against targets ranging from jet bombers and fighters, stealth aircraft, drones, and cruise and ballistic missiles. Tehran claimed the system remains effective under all weather conditions, and is hardened against jamming and nuclear/biological/chemical threats.
Iran’s chief military threat comes in the form of air and missile strikes from the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia. This explains why the deployment of an ostensibly top-tier system is receiving such hype.
Back in 2007, Iran first sought to import five batteries of Russian S-300PMU-1 (NATO codename SA-20 Gargoyle) air defense systems, which can engage aircraft up to ninety-three miles away. But even as Iranian technicians were training to operate the S-300PMU, in 2010 then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev elected to block the sale as part of international sanctions imposed in response to Tehran’s nuclear research program.