[center]SHORAD (Short Range Air Defence) similar sites comparison: Saudi Arabia, Iran, UAE etc
I have an odd hobby of hunting SHORAD sites on Google Earth, not least because they are almost completely uncharted by the rest of the Google Earth
As you may have heard Iran has started producing a 35mm cannon, reverse engineered from the 'Sky Guard' system it bought in the 70s. The cannon have
a 4km range and are relatively effective for point defence, although probably not against stand-off missiles etc.
As usual *new* Iranian military equipment gets a lot of press hype and it's hard to tell really how significant the equipments employment will be -
for example when Iran bought HQ-7 SAMs from China and then declared it was making them, a lot of speculation followed. But years later still there's
still no hard evidence in the public domain of HQ-7 being deployed operationally.
So I went hunting in Google Earth to see whether Iranian SHORAD dispositions suggested an increase in 35mm 'Sky-Guard' air defence systems. I
reasoned that if I could find one or more 'new' or well maintained Sky-Guard positions it'd be a strong indicator that Iran is taking this systems
I've since done a quick cross-reference with other SHORAD sites in other countries who operate Sky-Guard and the Google Earth evidence now seems
compelling that the Iranian sites are Sky-guard as opposed to Rapier, I-Hawk, Zu-23-2, HQ-7 or whatever.
This evidence points to the following conclusions:
a) That the local production of 35mm cannon and associated fire control systems is a KEY Iranian air defence procurement and not an export ploy, media
ploy or otherwise diversion. Sky-Guard sites are likely to increase, presumably with the less capable Zu-23-2 sites being regarded as second-rate.
b) The fact that the Sky-Guard sites found clearly have two fire positions per fire control radar implies that the extent to which Iran will deploy
SAM systems (HQ-7) as PART of Sky-guard is less so than many speculated. If the 'typical' Skyguard battery included radar guided SAMs you'd expect
THREE firing positions and also fewer positions per key installation (SAMs have longer ranges).
c) There remains no evidence of the use of SA-15 as point defence for key installations, whereas there are very well maintained Sky-Guard positions
surrounding at least one key site. This implies that SA-15 and ultimately SA-19 will not be the key point defense systems, presumably because the
number of systems being purchased is simply too few.
Take these countries, Iran, Saudi Arabia, UAE; the only relevant air defence systems all have in common is Sky-Guard and I-Hawk. We can safely say
that these are not I-Hawk.
As our starting point, here's an Iranian
site. The system hasn't been conclusively
ID'd but the arrangement seems to match Sky-Guard
35mm, with two firing positions and a radar position behind it, all elevated around the surrounding terrain:
And here's another Iranian one in similar configuration:
also uses a similar layout with two firing positions forward, and a radar behind and centred between the two launchers, In this
image you can even see the cables between the radar platform and the firing positions. I've previously noted this site as probably Crotale/Shahine
(similar to HQ-7 Iran bought) because of the size of the vehicles and the fact that there is only one fire-unit deployed, but I would guess that this
is a Sky-Guard site being used for Crotale.
And what would you guess, yes UAE
deploys a similar layout. These two sites are part of the close-in defence around a UAE air base.
also uses Sky-Guard but incorporates Aspide SAMs into the systems. Here's an Egyptian Sky-Guard site, note how the inclusion of SAMs
multiplies the firing positions and control vehicles etc.
This again suggests that Iranian Sky-Guard systems will not routinely have SAMs as part of the mix else the sites would be more complex.