Last updated: 21 October, 2013

Iran holds talks with Russia to boost military cooperation

The head of Russia’s air force, General Viktor Bondarev, met his Iranian counterparts in Tehran to discuss boosting military cooperation between the countries, local media reported Monday.

Talks centred on “electronic listening systems, radar and missiles,” Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili, head of Khatam-ol-Anbia Air Defence Base, said in comments quoted by daily Sharq.

Esmaili also said that Bondarev had discussed the delivery of Russian-built S-300 ballistic missiles with Iranian air force chiefs.

Russia signed a contract in 2007 to deliver five of the advanced ground-to-air missiles — which can take out aircraft or guided missiles — to Iran at a cost of $800 million (590 million euros).

In 2010, then-president Dmitry Medvedev cancelled the contract because of UN sanctions and strong US and Israeli pressure over concerns for Tehran’s disputed nuclear ambition.

Iran lodged a $4 billion lawsuit at an international court in Geneva against Russia.

But Esmaili said “we can get S-300 missiles or other similar systems when the disputes are resolved,” Sharq reported.

Bondarev also met Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ air division. Hajizadeh offered him a “Yasseer” drone, a copy of US ScanEagle unmanned aircraft, as a gift.

In September, Iran’s army unveiled the Yasseer drone, which can fly for eight hours with a range of 200 kilometres (124 miles) and reach an altitude of 4,500 metres (15,000 feet).

It resembles the US ScanEagle, a surveillance drone that Iran claimed to have captured in late 2012.

Hajizadeh also gave Bondarev surveillance footage of “foreign forces in the Persian Gulf,” Sepahnews, the official site of the elite Revolutionary Guards, reported.

Over the last 20 years, Iran and Russia have developed a close military cooperation, with Moscow supplying bomber jets and other hardware.