If the sales of HQ-9 are confirmed, it will have a huge negative for China's role as a possible mediator, since China is one of the few nations did not push for hasher sanction on Iran, and to some analyst, its flourishing trade relation with Iran which stands at 25 Billion dollar a years, actually has some leverage. Also, Israel did not bring up the issue of a possible SAM sale during China’s Foreign Minster Yang Jiechi’s visit to discuss the Iranian nuclear issue on April 23rd. The whole affair seems somewhat questionable.
Iran will turn to China instead of Russia to acquire an advanced air defense system after relations between Iran and Russia hit rock bottom, the official Iranian news agency PressTV reported.
For years Iran has been trying to purchase the S-300 anti-aircraft missile, which is considered to one of the most advanced systems available on the market and would dramatically increase Iran's air defense capabilities against any attacks on its nuclear installations.
The S-300 surface-to-air missile system, which can track targets and fire at aircraft 75 miles away, features high jamming immunity making it harder to incapacitate the system electronically, and is able to engage up to 100 targets simultaneously.
Teheran will now turn to China for the HongQi-9/FD-2000 system which reportedly combines elements "borrowed" from the Russian S-300 and the American MIM-104 Patriot system, according to the Iranian news agency.
The negotiations between Teheran and Moscow began in 2007, but neither side has ever issued an official confirmation of the deal.
The Russian sale of arms to Iran is a thorn in Moscow's relationship with Washington, which opposes Iran's quest for nuclear weapons and labels it "a sponsor of state terrorism," according the United States State Department.
In addition to American pressure on Russia not to sell weapons to Iran, Israel is also trying to persuade Russia not to export the system.
It is believed that when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu meets with US President Barack Obama in Washington on May 18 that Iran's nuclear program will top the agenda.
In April, London's Times reported that Israeli military forces were in the final stages of preparation for launching a "massive aerial raid" on Iranian nuclear facilities "within days of being given the go-ahead by its new government."
The paper cites the acquisition of three AWACs (early warning system) platforms and planned civil defense drills in support of its theory. The Times quoted an unnamed Israeli defense official as saying that Israel's "message to Iran is that the threat is not just words."
However, an airstrike against Iran's nuclear installations will be much tougher than the bombing raid that Israel launched in 1981 to destroys Iraq's nuclear reactor in Osirak, since the Iranian installations are not only further away from Israel but also spread out all over Iran in addition to being heavily fortified.
05/10/09 Bookmark and Share
Russia 'losing to China on Iran S-300 quest'
Iran is reportedly seeking to buy a Chinese-made air defense system which is a variant of the Russian S-300.
Press TV - In its quest for an advanced air defense system, Iran has reportedly shifted its hopes from Russia to China which owns a replica of the controversial Russian S-300.
As Iran's quest for the advanced Russian-made S-300 air defense system is believed to have hit rock bottom, a report by RIA Novosti said Tehran is eying a Chinese-made HQ-9 surface-to-air missile under the name FD-2000 -- recently put on the export market.
The HongQi-9/FD-2000 reportedly combines elements "borrowed" from Russia's S-300 and America's MIM-104 Patriot.
It uses elements of the Russian system's "solid rocket, aerodynamic layout, gas-dynamic spoilers, and launcher technologies, as well as some search and guidance systems."
The missile has a range of 7-125 kilometers for airborne targets -- a range much lower than the 150-kilometer range of the Russian S-300 PMU1.
The Chinese system's range for missile targets, or air-to-ground missiles, is 7-50 kilometers, with a firing altitude of 1-18 kilometers. Its range for cruise missiles is 7-15 kilometers, at a firing altitude of 0.025 kilometers.
The range for ballistic missiles is 7-25 kilometers at a firing altitude of 2-15 kilometers.
Iran has been negotiating a deal with Russia to obtain the sophisticated defense system since 2007. However, neither side has so far issued an official confirmation on the delivery of the S-300 to Iran.
Later media reports claimed that Russia's plan to turn a "new page" in its ties with the United States is likely to prompt Moscow to shelve the delivery of the S-300 system to Iran.
Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Mahdi Safari, however, said in April that the contract to buy Russia's S-300 advance missile system is still effective.
"There are no problems with this [S-300] contract," RIA Novosti quoted Safari as saying at the end of his visit to Moscow.
"After all, these are purely defensive weapons, and any country has the right to buy them. I believe this could only worry those states that have plans to attack others," he said.
Following an escalation in Israeli rhetoric, Iran has moved to upgrade its defenses and has reportedly opted to acquire the S-300 system -- which, according to Western experts, would rule out the possibility of an Israeli airstrike on Iranian nuclear sites.
"If Tehran obtained the S-300, it would be a game-changer in military thinking for tackling Iran," says long-time Pentagon advisor Dan Goure.
The S-300 surface-to-air missile system, which can track targets and fire at aircraft 120 km (75 miles) away, features high jamming immunity and is able to simultaneously engage up to 100 targets.
Iran's move to equip itself with the Chinese air defense system comes as an earlier report by the Jerusalem Post revealed that Israeli missile operators have begun weekly drills to hone their skills for a war on Iran.
According to the report, Israeli Air Force (IAF) reservists who operate the ballistic missile destroyer, the Arrow, and the surface-to-air missile, Patriot, have been called up by the Defense Ministry to spend one day a week on duty to prepare for a possible conflict with Iran.
The weekly military drills come on top of another report revealing that Israel is set to mobilize its army to hold the largest military exercise in its history on June 2.
One of the missions of the nationwide military drill is to psych up the public for the breaking out of war and to convince the people that in the event of a war the entire country could "become a front without warning".