Missile Defense Briefing Report: No. 338

Related Categories: Missile Defense; Turkey; Iran; Russia; Israel; North Korea

In 2010, in an effort to appease Western nations, then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev abruptly halted the delivery of five S-300 air defense systems purchased in 2007 by Iran. Tehran responded with a $4 billion lawsuit against Russian weapons conglomerate Rosobornexport. Now, however, Moscow and Tehran are reevaluating the agreement, with Russian President Vladimir Putin recently lifting the ban and floating the possibility of a sale to Iran of the more advanced Almaz-2500 anti-aircraft missile system. The purchase would significantly improve Iran’s air defense capabilities, as well as its protection of nuclear facilities. Resolution of the lawsuit, however, still remains pending. (The Moscow Times, June 22, 2015)

Rather than relying on traditional kinetic means of missile defense, Russia's Radio-Electronic Technologies Group (KRET) is creating an electronic warfare system to upgrade Russian air defenses. The system, which should be ready for testing by the end of the year, is reported to primarily target cruise missiles and enemy satellites. According to Russia's officialItar-TASS news agency, KRET's Deputy CEO, Yuri Mayevsky, has claimed that the new system - which is to be deployed in ground, naval and aerial form - will be able to "fully suppress communications, navigation and target location and the use of high-precision weapons... It will actually switch off enemy weapons." (International Business Times, June 25, 2015)

Growing activity by the Islamic State-affiliated Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis terror group in the Sinai have prompted new innovations in Israeli commercial transportation. As a precaution against targeting by terrorists, Israeli firms have begun to install units of an anti-missile system called SkyShield, which utilizes lasers and thermal cameras to track and shoot down ground-to-air missiles, as a way of protecting commercial aircraft traveling to the city of Eilat. The Israeli government has spent $76 million developing the system and, according to the Israeli Defense ministry, the system is "100 percent successful." (Times of Israel, July 13, 2015)

Moscow is taking a page out of Washington's missile defense development playbook. The Russian government plans to incorporate large airships, similar to the U.S. Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS) program that stations blimps outfitted with radar systems capable of scanning for missiles in the DC metropolitan area, into its missile defense architecture. The systems, under development by Russian defense manufacturer KRET, are intended to serve as an expanded radar array for early warning duties around select Russian cities. It is not yet clear when the blimps will be operational. (Sputnik News, July 13, 2015)

Turkey has long relied on foreign manufacturers for new and advanced offensive and defensive missile systems, but times are slowly changing. The large, state-controlledRoketsan missile developer has had great success in several recent tests of new indigenous defense capabilities. These include the Atmacaanti-ship cruise missiles, which will be emplaced on Milgem-class corvettes and frigates; in addition to theHisar-A, an auto-pilot controlled low-altitude air defense missile; and the Umtas anti-tank missile that will be placed on the T-129 attack helicopters. Turkey hopes the indigenously developed missile systems will significantly reduce the cost and reliance on foreign suppliers. (Defense News, July 18, 2015)

Fanning worries of a possible fresh North Korean missile test, the U.S.-Korea Institute at John Hopkins University has released a new analysis detailing upgrades made to the DPRK's primary launch site. The newly renovated launch facility is capable of launching rockets twice the size of the Unha-3, which was launched by Pyongyang in December 2012. Analysts worry that the Kim regime is planning a major long-range missile or satellite launch to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the country's Worker's Party this fall. Despite the often neglected and UN mandated moratorium on North Korean missile launches, reports from South Korean news agency Yonhap news claim that North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has ordered the test as part of the celebration. (London Telegraph, July 29, 2015)