As short-lived as it may prove to be, the American empire could well meet its match in Iran and by way of that country’s air defences.
Iran’s own advanced long-range air defence system is still under development but if it’s all it’s claimed to be it could ultimately prove to be the weapon that spells the end of America’s imperial designs.
Work on the Bavar 373 (Belief 373) began when problems arose with the delivery of Russia’s S-300 system. Although the S-300 deal was originally signed in 2007, Russia failed to deliver the system and finally cancelled the sale in 2010, following pressure from the U.S. and Israel.
Nonetheless, Russia had trained Iranian crews to operate the system and despite reports that Iran had acquired a number of S-300’s from other sources, work on the Bavar 373’s development continued.
No doubt America and Israel have both been watching with concern, given Iranian claims that the Bavar 373 is ‘superior’ to the S-300, which is considered to be a ‘game-changing’ weapon in itself.
The two air defence systems look as if they were designed to work in tandem: the Raad intercepting targets up to 50 kilometres while the Bavar 373 seems optimised to intercept those beyond. If Iranian claims about them are genuine, the combined weapons systems could provide a comprehensive layered air defence more effective than anything the U.S. or Israel have ever yet encountered.
Earlier this week a senior commander said preliminary testing of the Bavar 373’s components is “well underway.”
Meaning that Iran could have a sophisticated nationwide air defence system up and ready before the end of 2013 and maybe well before. If the Bavar 373 system is as effective as claimed then it would prevent any air strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities, from either Israel or the U.S.
So timing is of the essence here. Right now heavy winter clouds over Tehran provide an effective cover from precision air strikes. However, come spring that cloud cover will lift leaving Tehran vulnerable to a concerted air campaign; should the Western powers decide to launch such a campaign and if Iran still lacks a comprehensive national air defence system.
While Iran may have some S-300s it is far from certain whether it has enough to thwart an all out Western air campaign. Crucially, what’s missing is an indigenously developed long-range air defence system in sufficient quantities to complete an integrated national air defence system.
Of course, it’s still an open question whether the West will launch an air campaign and if Iran’s air defences will be up and ready for it if it does?
However, IF Iran has the Bavar 373 fielded and operational it could well deter an all out U.S. led campaign opened with air strikes; as the invasion of Iraq was.
Just as Iran’s fielding of other new weapons has thus far deterred Western nations from continuing their campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan across those countries flanking borders into neighbouring Iran, so an operational Bavar 373 could deter further military incursions against the Islamic Republic.
Will it be up and operational in time to do so? One way or the other those questions could be answered in the year ahead.