Russia will begin delivering the S-300 anti-aircraft missile defense system to Iran next month, a Russian news agency reported on Friday.
“The process of delivery of the first regiment of the S-300PMU-2 air defense systems is planned to begin in January and to be completed in February,” an unnamed source was quoted by TASS as saying.
“Iran is due to receive the second regiment of these systems in August or September 2016,” the source said, adding that “Russia will thus fulfill its obligations” to Iran.
Some 80 Iranian specialists will travel to the Mozhaisky Military Space Academy to train on using the system for four months as part of the contract.
The first regiment of S-300 system was sent to the Kapustin Yar range in southern Russia, near the border with Kazakhstan in September, to be tested. From there, they will arrive at the port of shipment in the Russian part of the Caspian Sea from where they will be delivered to Iran by maritime transport, Russian officials said.
Iran signed an $800 million deal with Russia for the system but in 2010 Russia banned its delivery due to international sanctions against Iran, and returned Tehran’s first payment. But Iran sued Moscow for breaching the two countries’ contract, seeking $4 billion in compensation.
Earlier this year, following the agreement reached by Iran and world powers over Tehran’s nuclear program, Russian President Vladimir Putin lifted the ban. The nuclear deal signed in July in Vienna paved the way to resume the sale and earlier this month Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin told reporters that as the first installment of the S-300 is delivered, Iran will revoke its lawsuit.
The S-300 is a system capable of engaging multiple attacking aircraft at long range and is intended to protect sensitive ground installations. It is widely held to be one of the top systems of its kind in the world.
Israel strongly opposed sale of the system to Iran, arguing that it is meant to defend Iranian nuclear facilities. Tehran has consistently insisted that its nuclear facilities are intended for peaceful purposes.
In May this year, IAF pilots conducted joint drills with Greek pilots and the Greek army, and later media reports quoted military officers as saying that some of the training included the Israeli pilots learning how to “trick” the S-300’s radars. The system in use belongs to the Greek army and is deployed on the island of Crete.
Greek officials later denied the report.
Earlier this year, the commander of the IAF Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel said the challenge posed by the S-300 to Israeli fighter jets was “formidable but not insurmountable.”