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Iran Test-Fires Long-Range Soviet Missile

December 27, 1990|From Associated Press

NICOSIA, Cyprus — Iran today test-fired a Soviet-made SA-6 anti-aircraft missile, acknowledging for the first time that it had acquired the advanced, long-range weapon.

The acquisition of the SA-6 was believed to be part of a $6-billion defense and industrial deal signed by Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani in Moscow in June, 1989.

A Tehran radio broadcast, monitored in Cyprus, said the surface-to-air missile was fired by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps at the Fajr missile base.

It did not say where the base was, or how many of the advanced weapons the Iranians have bought.

The acquisition of the radar-guided SA-6s is a big boost for Iran's badly depleted military, which suffers from a chronic shortage of advanced weapons.

The Iranians are known to have U.S.-made, HAWK anti-aircraft missiles, some obtained in former President Ronald Reagan's clandestine arms-for-hostages deal in 1985-86. They also are believed to have Soviet SA-7s, Swedish RBS-70s, British Rapier and Chinese HQ-2Js, the Chinese version of the Soviet SA-2 system.

Iraq, Iran's foe in their 1980-88 war, has at least 300 SA-6s along with other surface-to-air missiles.

In September, the Iranians unveiled Soviet-built MIG-29 advanced fighter jets acquired under the 1989 deal with Moscow.

The SA-6, known by the NATO code-name "Gainful," is a long-range missile capable of hitting targets 40 miles high. It carries an 88-pound, high-explosive warhead at nearly three times the speed of sound.

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