Iran may have sold its Bavar-373 air defence system and Khordad-3 anti-aircraft missile systems to Syria giving an indication that it plans to become a major arms exporter to regimes under sanctions or those unable to afford US or Russian arms.
While news of the two high-tech systems sale has not been revealed by either Iran or Syria; indications that a sale may have taken place came from a statement made by Iran's Army spokesman Abu Fadl Shikaraji, "We have deployed some air defense systems to Syria at the request of the government in Damascus. The economic conditions do not allow us to provide everything free of charge to our allies and sometimes they have to pay for it,” he was quoted as saying in several Iranian media earlier this week.
Tehran had transferred to Damascus the Bavar-373 and Khordad-3 missile systems to increase the ability to respond to Israeli attacks on Syrian territory. While the transfer was confirmed from images appearing in the Syrian media and statements of senior Syrian officials, it was seen as a donation from Iran. However, it is now transpires that this could have been a sale.
The Bavar-373 is an Iranian-made long-range surface-to-air missile system (equivalent to the Russian made S-300- some report say the development was based on Russian technology) with an operational range of 50-75 kilometers.
The Khordad-3 air defense system was put into service by Iran in 2012, designed to engage fighters, cruise missiles, smart bombs, helicopters and airplanes.
It was the Khordad-3 system that shot down the US Global Hawk drone on June 20, 2019, over Iranian territorial waters. It is also claimed to have shot down several Israeli missiles fired from its F-35 and other warplanes.
In the past few weeks, Iran has revealed several new weapons including: Zolfaqar-e Basir anti-ship missile with a range of more than 700 kilometers; vertically-launched Sepeher, Shahab-2 and Hodhod-4 drones, an armed ground based robot drone- Caracal after a type of wild cat found in parts of Iran; an ingenious kamikaze drone mounted on attack boats among others.
It last week released images and videos of US warships shot from its locally-made drone to stress the point of its reconnaissance capabilities.
The sheer diversity of Iran’s military products show local ingenuity has been at work right through the years it lived under a UN arms embargo.
The public release of details of its weapons don’t seem to be intended to send a message to the US- to which Iran’s weapons are no match- but rather to potential buyers in the Middle East and Africa.