Russia Finishes Delivery of S-300 Missile Systems to Iran

The Russian government says it has completed delivery of the S-300 surface-to-air missile system, shown here, to Iran. (Russian Ministry of Defence photo)The Russian government says it has completed delivery of the S-300 surface-to-air missile system, shown here, to Iran. (Russian Ministry of Defence photo)

The Russian government says it has completed delivery of the S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Iran, according to multiple news reports.

Russia’s RIA news agency reported the development Thursday, citing an announcement from the government’s arms export agency known as the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation.

Multiple news outlets, from Reuters to the U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe, also reported the news.

The S-300, which carries the NATO reporting name SA-10 Grumble, has a range of up to 200 kilometers, or 125 miles, and is designed to provide defensive cover from enemy cruise missiles and aircraft, from bombers to fighters to spy planes.

Iran has long wanted to buy the S-300 SAM and planned to acquire as many as four of the systems from Russia for an estimated price tag of about $800 million.

Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2015 lifted a voluntary hold on the weapons sale, which dates to 2007, over progress on a deal between Iran and Western countries, including the U.S., to curb the country’s nuclear ambitions.

The pact, which was eventually approved, allows Iran to pursue a limited atomic program for peaceful purposes over the next decade but also lifted economic sanctions and a key arms embargo.

Russian has increasingly deployed S-300 and S-400 systems within its continental borders; Kaliningrad, the Russian city in a territory between Poland and Lithuania; Crimea and areas encircling the Ukraine; and Latakia, Syria.

“Russia has altered the security balance in the Black Sea, Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East by establishing large anti-access/area-denial (A2AD) exclusion zones,” Institute for the Study of War Kathleen Weinberger recently wrote in a summary accompanying an infographic on the topic.

“Advanced air defense systems create A2AD ‘bubbles’ that prevent Russia’s opponents from establishing air supremacy in strategically significant theaters,” it states. “Russia can use these systems to impede the ability of the U.S. to defend its NATO allies by disrupting the ability of US air forces to access conflict zones in the event of a crisis.”

While the U.S. has more than 150 bombers in the fleet, only about 20 of them — the B-2 Spirit made by Northrop Grumman Corp. — are stealthy enough to operate in high-threat environments at distances greater than 1,500 miles.

The Air Force has awarded a contract to Northrop to begin developing a new stealth bomber as part of a program called the Long Range Strike Bomber, or LRS-B, or B-21 Raider.

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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.