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The development of the "Mesbah 1" (Lantern), a new air defense system for countering aircraft, cruise missiles, choppers and other low-altitude threats, was announced by Iran's defense minister Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi Wednesday, May 5. It will go into operation in the near future.
Military sources say that if Iran has indeed designed a weapon of this type and quality, it has come up with a powerful answer to US and Israeli cruise missiles, which pose the biggest threat to Iran's nuclear facilities in a military strike.
Vahidi boasted that the Mesbah can fire 4,000 shots a minute, is very precise and can be operated by a smaller crew than similar artillery systems. He claimed it was also effective in tracing and shooting down unmanned aerial vehicles - drones.
The Iranian Air force is also reported to have received 10 new "Toofan" (Storm) attack helicopters based on the Bell AH-1K Sea Cobra design. After studying photographs, Western military sources reported the Iranian version has been heavily upgraded compared with the original. It has a narrower airframe for greater flexibility and is armed with M197 3-barrelled 20-mm "Gatling-type" cannon in the A/A49E turret. Its wing-stub stations carry a pair of 19-tube 70-mm rocket launchers. The rear section has a Vulcan-type 20-mm automatic cannon, and two clusters of 38 anti-tank 70-mm missiles.
Bullet-proof glass protects the pilot's cockpit and weapons officer station, internal avionics have been revamped with the addition of a GPS and receiver in the nose, and a warning radar attached to the rear, with four antennae providing 360 degrees coverage and all electronics systems integrated.