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Explainer: Arman and Azarakhsh air defense systems, new guardians of Iranian sky

By Ivan Kesic

With the unveiling of two new air defense missile systems, Arman (Aspiration) and Azarakhsh (Thunderbolt), Iran has completed an already impressive multi-layered air defense arsenal.

On Saturday, at a ceremony held in the capital Tehran in the presence of Defense Minister Brigadier General Mohammad-Reza Ashtiani, Iran’s defense ministry presented two new advanced systems.

"The Ministry of Defense, in line with the defense capability of the country and the continuation of the unveilings that we had promised, will focus all its efforts on meeting the needs of the defense fields," Ashtiani said.

"Today, we are witnessing the unveiling of two major achievements of the defense industry," he continued, providing basic information about the capabilities of the two systems.

Arman system

Arman is a tactical anti-ballistic system named after Arman Alivardi, an Iranian youth who was tortured to death by West-backed armed rioters in Tehran a year and a half ago.

It was first seen in 2022, at the military parade on the occasion of the Islamic Republic of Iran Army Day, celebrated annually on April 18.

Also known as Tactical Sayyad (Hunter), Arman can detect and track 24 targets at a distance of 180 kilometers away and simultaneously deal with six to 12 targets within a range of 120 kilometers.

The air defense system is presented in two versions with different phased array radars, one model of this system has a passive radar and the other model has an active radar.

The system was initially observed with the Najm 804B active phased array radar, and the next model was equipped with a different passive phased array radar, that was previously seen with the Joshan air defense system.

The radars of this system have the ability to track targets such as all kinds of fighters, cruise missiles, helicopters and drones, as well as short-range ballistic missiles with 360-degree coverage and up to an altitude of 27 km from the ground.

Arman (Aspiration) anti-ballistic missile (ABM) defense system

Among the features of the Arman system, Ashtiani also mentioned the improvement and upgradation of its components, systems and control software, and easier usage.

Another feature of this defense system is its deployment and activation in a very short period of time, about 3 minutes, and its reaction time is less than 20 seconds.

This indicates that the system can be moved and deployed very quickly, which is of great importance for modern warfare in which mobility plays an important role.

Arman's transporter erector launcher and radar (TELAR) carries three tubes with missiles for vertical launch and is capable of using several types of missiles.

The system has the ability to fire a Sayad-2 missile with a range of 70 km and a Sayad-3 defense missile with a range of 120 km, as well as the new and improved version of the Sayad-3 missile with a range of 150 kilometers.

The vertical launch makes it different from previous medium-range systems such as the Joshan, 15 Khordad and Mersad, and similar to the long-range Bavar-373 and the short-range Dezful and Zoubar systems.

Due to the vertical launch capability, the reaction speed of the system does not decrease in the face of threats due to the side angle of the enemy's attack, and the system can simultaneously fire missiles in several directions without the need to change the direction of the launcher.

Azarakhsh system

Azarakhsh system is a low-range and low-altitude system that simultaneously uses radar and electro-optical systems to detect and track hostile targets in the air.

The advanced 3D radar system and optical tracking system can detect and destroy targets in all weather conditions up to a range of 50 km with 4 ready-to-fire missiles, which also use thermal seekers.

Azarakhsh (Thunderbolt) low-altitude defense system.

The system is light and easily portable, so it can be mounted on different types of vehicles. According to Iran’s defense minister, it will be used to defend vital infrastructure from drone attacks.

The Azarakhsh will thus join the existing low-range and low-altitude systems such as Mersad, Ya Zahra and Kamin-2.

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