Brigadier General Alireza Elhami, deputy commander of Iranian Army Air Defense.
“Air defense is the front line of all defense.”
On 26 September 2022, Brigadier General Alireza Elhami, deputy commander of the Iranian Army, granted an interview with Radio Tehran that was transcribed and published by the Defense Ministry’s Holy Defense News Agency. Elhami began by saying that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had described air defense as the “front line” of Iranian defense. He lauded the history of the Army’s Air Defense, including its supposed success during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War, reflecting on the importance that the eight-year “Holy Defense” continues to play in Iranian military and political culture.[i] Not only did he speak about the continuation of air travel during the war, but he also said that Iran’s air defense prevented the Iraqis from cutting off Iranian oil exports.
After praising past success, Elhami described new platforms and developments within the army’s air defense. While he gave progress reports on the Bavar-373 surface-to-air missile system and announced that the range of Sayyad missile system would increase from 60 to 80 miles, the pride of his talk was the Sepehr radar. Although Iranian military officials frequently exaggerate capabilities, Elhami claims the new radar could provide over-the-horizon coverage to more than 1,800 miles, a range with which it could theoretically monitor air traffic across the entirety of the Middle East, Eastern Mediterranean, and South Asia.
“Radar-e Mavara-ye Afegh Sepehr behzudi ‘Amaliyati Mishavad (Sepehr over-the-horizon radar will soon be operational),” Holy Defense News Agency (official media outlet of Iran’s Defense Ministry), 26 September 2022. https://defapress.ir/fa/news/547521
What is the importance of the army’s air defense from the perspective of the commander-in-chief?
The deputy commander of the army’s Air Defense [Alireza Elhami] said, “My take on this mission and the heavy responsibility that the Supreme Leader placed on the shoulders of his soldiers in the air defense is because in recent wars, especially regional wars, it was proved that the main threats will be due to the speed, effectiveness and result of airborne airstrikes. Therefore, the Supreme Leader has said that air defense is the front line of all defense of the country….
“One of our greatest honors in air defense is that we did not allow oil exports to be cut off for a moment with all the heavy and massive attacks by the Ba’athist enemy,” he said. “We did not allow any of the country’s airports to be closed. During the eight years of holy defense, not a single day was the country’s space closed to commercial aircraft. It was the zeal and efforts of the army’s air defense specialists who did not allow the radars to be dismantled for a moment….”
Brigadier General Elhami said that today not only in the region but also in some areas, Iran is among the top 10 powers in the world [in radar technology] and stressed, “We will soon have native radar beyond the horizon. Maybe a number of countries in the world have it, but fewer than five countries in the world have the knowledge to produce it indigenously.
The deputy commander of the army’s air defense said that today we are proud of our radar beyond the horizon that is named Sepehr and which will soon be operational. He noted, “This radar with a range of 3,000 kilometers [1,864 miles] provides operational ability for air defense. This radar can monitor a variety of flying objects ranging from commercial aircraft, fighters, control command aircraft, communication relay aircraft and drones. He continued, “This radar is able to detect all air threats and provide us with information to make decisions and counteract them.”
[i] Iran’s Army Air Defense is a coequal division within the Iranian military to the ground forces, navy, and air force.
Image: Brigadier General Alireza Elhami, deputy commander of Iranian Army Air Defense
Source: Holy Defense News Agency https://defapress.ir/files/fa/news/1397/5/8/486921_295.jpg
Attribution: Public Domain