9 October Jane's

Iranian strategic military purchases includes the delivery of modern weapon systems

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Iran's Defence Minister Adm Ali Shamkhani began a four-day official visit to Moscow on 1 October with the specified aim of improving military-technical co- operation (MTC) and communication between the respective defence establishments of Iran and Russia.

Following initial discussions on 1 October, Adm Shamkhani and Russia's Minister of Defence Sergei Ivanov signed an inter- governmental framework agreement creating an MTC commission and concluded contracts for both the upgrade of Iranian armaments and the delivery of modern weapon systems and equipment.

Sources in the Iranian and Russian delegations declined to provide details on specific armaments sought, although the manufacturers visited by Adm Shamkhani during his stay may provide an indication of Iran's intended procurement programme, which includes air-defence missile systems, anti-tank guided weapons and battlefield missile systems. The latter include the Tochka-U (NATO reporting name: SS-21 'Scarab') and Iskander-E (SS-X-26 'Stone').

Some of these systems were demonstrated to the Iranian Defence Minister during his visit to the Kolomna-based Design Bureau of Mechanical Engineering. Adm Shamkhani also visited the Severnaya Verf shipbuilding plant in St Petersburg, where Russia's latest Project 20382 stealthy corvette will be laid down in December. Severnaya Verf will build these corvettes for both the Russian Navy and foreign customers. Several countries have already shown interest in an export version of the ship.

Iran has also expressed an interest in the procurement of S-300 PMU 2 (SA-10e 'Grumble) Favorit surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems to protect its strategic facilities. The Iranian Army wants to purchase the 9K37 Buk-M1 (SA-11'Gadfly') and Tor-M1 (SA-15 'Gauntlet') mobile SAM systems. Iran has also expressed an interest in the MiG-29 ('Fulcrum') and Su-27 ('Flanker') fighter aircraft, as well as missile, amphibious warfare and patrol vessels.

A $100 million contract for the delivery of 550 BMP-3 infantry combat vehicles is currently being prepared for signature. Potential MTC between the two countries may involve the upgrade of the Iranian Air Force fleet of Russian combat aircraft; overhauling armaments previously delivered by Russia; establishing a service centre in Iran for the MiG-29 and the Su-24MK ('Fencer') aircraft and a T-72S main battle tank crew training centre; collaboration in the development of space-borne communications and earth surveillance systems; as well as organising the licensed production in Iran of several land and naval weapon systems (Jane's Defence Weekly 21 March).

Russian sources believe that upgrading the Iranian Navy's three operational 'Kilo' class diesel-electric submarines and equipping them with new 3M54E Granat (SS-N-21 'Sampson') anti-ship missiles is a priority for Iran, as is the acquisition of missile boats fitted with the 3M80/3M82 Moskit (SS-N-22 'Sunburn') or Uran 3M24 (SS-N-25 'Switchblade') anti-ship missile systems.

Iran's 25-year force modernisation programme is oriented largely toward the purchase of Russian-made armaments and military equipment. The volume of military-technical co-operation with Iran may exceed $300 million a year, according to Rosoboronexport sources. Iran is planning to re-equip its armed forces before 2010 with modern armaments worth $10 billion, of which up to $4 billion could be spent on procurement of Russian armaments, the sources added.

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