Iran set for air maneuvers Tuesday

Nov. 15, 2010 at 1:16 PM

TEHRAN, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Iran plans to unveil a long-range surface-to-air missile in February, a general said ahead of nation-wide military drills set to kick off Tuesday.

Iranian Brig. Gen. Ahmad Miqani, an air defense base commander, said members of the Iranian armed forces were preparing for a military exercise dubbed Defender of the Sky, the semiofficial Fars News Agency reports.

The aim of the exercise is to highlight Iran's air defense capabilities, the general added.

Iran is worried that Israel or other Western powers could strike sensitive nuclear installations by air. Israel in the 1980s bombed a nuclear facility in Iraq.

Military officials from Iran added that they would unveil a new long-range air defense by February described as an S-200 missile defense system.

The system is described by Fars as a "very long-range" surface-to-air missile designed to defend against bomber attacks.

Tehran announced it was planning to test a domestic version of the Russian-made S-300 missile defense system after Moscow backed out of a military sale.

Russia pulled back on a deal to sell the S-300 system to Iran, citing recent U.N. sanctions on Tehran regarding its nuclear program.

Moscow opted to sell Venezuela its S-300 anti-aircraft missile system instead.

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