Moscow has sold Iran the highly-advanced Avtobaza truck-mounted systems which are capable of jamming aircraft radar and the electronic guidance instruments of attacking missiles. This deal, announced in Moscow Tuesday, Oct. 25, substantially boosts Russian military assistance to the Islamic Republic.
debkafile's military sources: These radar jammers are a component of Russia's most sophisticated anti-aircraft and electronic warfare system for the early warning of approaching assault planes and missiles.
Avtobaza is only part of the complete system. Its job is to transmit incoming information via optic fibers to separate electronic command centers and central air defense commands which then act to foil air or missile attacks.
Arguing that the weapon is purely defensive, Moscow claimed its sale to Iran does not violate the UN Security Council weapons embargo against Iran.
However, the US and Israel are reported to suspect a Russian stratagem whereby the Avotbaza jammers are only the first part of the deal, to be followed by the delivery to Iran of the full ELINT-electronic signals intelligence system. The full system would enable Iran to identity and react to any aerial or missile movements - not only over its territory but in the skies of the entire Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea.
debkafile's military sources describe the Avrobaza system as able to simultaneously detect and electronically jam 60 targets within a 150-kilometer radius at angles ranging 360 degrees on 20 minutes notice.
Western suspicions were alerted by the way the Russians announced the transaction.
It was made by Konstantin Biryulin, head of a department in the Russian Defense Ministry, a departure from the usual practice of announcing these transactions through spokesmen of Russia arms export industry agencies outside the government ministry.
debkafile's sources in Moscow take this to mean that the Kremlin will henceforth treat arms sales to Iran as a strategic matter for senior security echelons to handle. They expect such deals with Syria to be upgraded in the same way.
In his statement, Biryulin stressed, "Russia has sent a set of mobile radar jammers to Iran and is negotiating future deliveries." He did not say how many jammers were in the contract or what other weapons were under negotiation with Tehran.
American and Israeli notice was also piqued by another of Biryulin's remarks:
"We are not talking about jets, submarines or even S-300 (missile) systems," he said. "We are talking about providing security for the Iranian state."
Our Moscow sources take this also as the Kremlin's notice that this time it will not surrender to US and Israeli pressure for calling off the Avtobaza deal in the same way as it revoked its contract with Iran for supplying S-300 missiles. From now on, Russia is undertaking responsibility for providing Iran with the defensive hardware it needs for its national security.
Implied in this undertaking is another message: Russia will not stand for American or any other Western attacks on Iran or Syria like the NATO operation which overthrew Muammar Qaddafi in Libya.