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Published in Stream:
Russia Update: April 13, 2015
Press by
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
The Russian S-300 Missile Could Make Bombing Iran's Nuclear Facilities Significantly Harder
7 years
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We've been reporting on the decree, signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin today, which lifts Russia's ban on the sale of the S-300 to Iran. 

As we noted, the missile sale has been blocked because of UN sanctions. But now that a framework deal has been agreed upon which would see Russia play a major role in the development of a civilian nuclear program in Iran -- and even before UN sanctions have been dropped -- Russia appears to be ready to finally sell Iran the missiles.

The Daily Beast explains exactly why this is problematic -- if Iran does not comply with its end of the deal and instead it pursues a military, not civilian, nuclear program, the S-300 will make it significantly harder for the U.S. to respond to that threat:

Many U.S. defense officials from the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps agree that the Russian missile system effectively renders entire regions into no-go zones for conventional jets like the F-16 or Navy F/A-18 Hornet. Currently, only high-end stealth aircraft like the $2.2 billion B-2 Spirit—of which the Air Force has exactly 20—and the high performance F-22 Raptor can safely operate inside an area protected by the S-300 and its many variants. The Pentagon’s $400 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will eventually be able to operate inside those zones too. But according to multiple sources within the Pentagon and defense industry agree—no warplane currently operating can remain inside those well-defended areas for long.

A senior U.S. Marine Corps aviator said that if Russia delivers the S-300 missile to Iran, it would fundamentally change U.S. war plans. “A complete game changer for all fourth-gen aircraft [like the F-15, F-16 and F/A-18].  That thing is a beast and you don’t want to get near it,” he said.

An attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities was going to be a daunting task, even under the best of circumstances, another Air Force official with extensive experience flying stealth aircraft said. The targets are deeply buried—which makes then hard to crack open with bombs--and the facilities are scattered all over the place. The Air Force’s tiny fleet of B-2 stealth bombers would have to do most of the work because only those aircraft have the range and weapons needed to hit those targets properly. The introduction of any version of the S-300 would make that extremely difficult job much more challenging, the official said.

Read the article here

-- James Miller