Iran has continued to increase the confusion surrounding its air defence programmes by announcing that another medium-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) called the Sayyad-2 has gone into production.
The Sayyad-2 was first mentioned in April 2011, when the Iranian media reported that it had been tested and indicated it was an upgrade of the Sayyad (or Sayad, meaning hunter in Persian), which is the Iranian version of the HQ-2 (the Chinese version of the Russian S-75).
In August 2013 Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili, the commander of the Iranian air defence force, announced that Sayyad-2 missiles had been used with Iran's S-200 system.
While this suggested the Sayyad-2 was a new long-range SAM, Gen Esmaili indicated that it was an additional, rather than replacement missile. "We could enhance [the S-200's] capabilities to cover mid-altitude threats by changing the structure and protocol of the S-200 system and using Sayyad-2 missiles," he told journalists in October.
When the Sayyad-2 was unveiled for the first time in a 9 November ceremony, it became clear that it uses the airframe of the RIM-66 (SM-1) naval SAM that Iran acquired from the United States in the 1970s.
Iran claims it is already producing its own version of the SM-1 called the Mehrab. The Iranian navy announced on 1 January 2012 that the missile had been test fired for the first time from the fast attack craft Gorz .
Senior naval officers have said the Mehrab has a passive radar homing capability that allows it to engage aircraft that attempt to use electronic countermeasures to jam its active radar homing system.
Unlike the naval version, the Sayyad-2 is fired from individual canisters that are similar to those used by the MIM-104 Patriot air defence system. A truck-mounted launcher with four canisters was displayed during the ceremony.
Few details of the Sayyad-2's guidance system and range were released, although Defence Minister Hossein Dehghan described it as a high-altitude, medium-range SAM and said it would be used with the Talash system.
"The Talash defence system was designed and built to detect and intercept targets for the Sayyad-2 missile," he was quoted as saying. "Now that it has had successful tests, God willing, its production line will be launched in the near future."
Iranian television also broadcast footage of a Sayyad-2 being fired from a launcher and apparently successfully intercepting a target. The footage did not clearly show the associated radars, although a height finder may have been glimpsed in the footage, suggesting the missile was being used in conjunction with an old Russian or Chinese system rather than with a modern three-dimensional radar.
The original SM-1 has a range 40 km, although the Sayyad-2 could potentially have a longer range if it had a mid-course guidance system that steers it to its target more efficiently than its forebear.
This would ostensibly make the Talash/Sayyad-2 a rival to the Ra'ad, which was displayed for the first time during a military parade on 21 September 2012 and looks similar to the Russian Buk medium-range air defence systems, which Iran is not known to have acquired. It was announced at the time that Ra'ad has a range of 50 km.
Iran has also unveiled what it claims is an indigenously produced version of the MIM-23 HAWK system known as the Mersad, which is claimed to have a range of 40 km. A vehicle-mounted version of the system known as the Ghader was unveiled in 2012.