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Iran starts production of new Mersad missile system


A File Photo of an air defence system.

TEHRAN (AP): Iran announced the development of a new, more advanced, anti-aircraft system, the defence minister said Sunday on national television.

Ahmad Vahidi said the new Mersad, or Ambush, air defence system would be able to hit modern aircraft at low and medium altitudes.

Based on a photo released by Iran's Defence Ministry, the Mersad will launch Iran's Shahin missiles, a local version of the 1970s-era US-manufactured Hawk missile.

The Hawk missile has a range 24 kilometres with a 119-pound warhead and was sold the Iran before the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Iran has been looking to upgrade its air defences, especially as Israel has refused to rule out an air strike over concerns that Tehran is developing nuclear weapons - a charge it denies.

Iran ordered Russia's advanced S-300 air defence system in 2007 but none have been delivered, allegedly due to technical glitches, though many believe the delay stems from international opposition to the sale.

The S-300 missiles are capable of shooting down aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missile warheads at ranges of over 145 kilometres and at altitudes of about 90,000 feet.

Tehran, which began a military self-sufficiency program in 1992, frequently makes announcements about new advances in military technology that cannot be independently verified.

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