IRI Defense Minister IRGC Brig. Gen. Dehghan on 18AUG15 at the National Defense Industry Day in Tehran
According to The Economic Times:
Iran will sign a contract with Russia next week to buy four S-300 surface-to-air missile systems, the Iranian defence minister said on Tuesday, bringing Tehran closer to acquiring an advanced air defence capability.
Russian state arms producer Almaz-Antey in June said it would supply Iran with a modernised version of the S-300, among the world's most capable air defence systems, once a commercial agreement was reached.
"The text of the contract is ready and our friends will go to Russia next week to sign the contract," Defence Minister Hossein Dehghan was quoted as saying by the Fars news agency.According to Fars News Agency:
[O]n the delivery of the Russia-made S-300 surface-to-air missile defense system, [Iranian Defense Minister Dehghan} said that Tehran had asked for 3 battalions of S-300, while a fourth system has recently been added to the order.According to Fox News:
Despite a ban on arms shipments to Iran under international sanctions, Russia appears willing to proceed with the sale of advanced S-300 surface-to-air missiles to the country -- in a development triggering objections from the Obama administration.
Russia, along with the U.S. and others, was a party to the recently struck Iran nuclear agreement, which keeps the arms embargo in place for five more years. A State Department official told Fox News this specific S-300 missile system is not technically prohibited under United Nations sanctions or the nuclear deal. But the department does not want the sale to proceed.
“We certainly object to it,” department spokesman John Kirby told reporters.COMMENTARY: Iranian sources are reporting the S-300 issue was a prime topic of discussion during Foreign Minister Zarif's trip to Moscow earlier this week.
Delivery of such a weapon system would provide the Rouhani administration with a tangible advance in the field of defense, consequential to its successful nuclear negotiations. It may even be recognized for its domestic political value by Iranian proponents of JCPOA, as serving to undercut or possibly placate critics of JCPOA among Iran's military and conservative establishment.
Should there actually be movement for this long-stalled arms transaction, it will be interesting to see which type of system is actually delivered to Iran.
Per a IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly report, dated 25JUN15:
Iran will "not necessarily" order the S-300VM Antey-2500 air defence system, Russia's Interfax-AVN news agency cited a "high-ranking source in military-technological co-operation" as saying on 23JUN15.
There was widespread presumption among Russian analysts that Iran would have to accept the S-300VM because the S-300PMU-1 that it originally ordered is no longer produced by Almaz-Antey.
S-300VM systems are currently being made for Egypt, which is a close ally of Saudi Arabia, Iran's main regional rival, so Tehran might consider it to have been compromised and consequently a less attractive option than systems from the very different S-300PMU series.
The Russian business newspaper Kommersant reported on 22 June that, after "some hesitation", Iran had decided to take the S-300VM. It added that the only other option for Iran was the S-400 Triumph system, but that would be significantly more expensive and would take longer to deliver as Almaz-Antey has a backlog of orders from the Russian armed forces and China.
This assertion appeared to be echoed by the senior source cited by Interfax-AVN on 23 June. "It would be practically impossible and economically inexpedient to supply systems in the form and under the conditions set out in the old contract," he said. "This is because, first and foremost, series production of these systems stopped a long time ago."
However, he added that the systems Iran would ultimately order "will not necessarily be Antey-2500 … other options are also being discussed". The source raised the possibility that Iran could get a more advanced version of the S-300PMU series than the one it originally ordered, saying Russia could modernise systems that have been retired by the Russian armed forces. "They would not be new systems, but ones that have been used by troops for some time [which would have to undergo] serious modernisation," he said.