Satellite imagery shows some new developments at Iran’s Masshad civil-military airfield. A new surface to air missile (SAM) site has been constructed on the north side of the runway to support Khatam al-Anbia’s S-300PMU-2 deployments. Between 2017-2018, Iran jumped the S-300 system to the airbase on three occasions which have coincided with visits by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The first deployment occurred between June and July 2017 when the Supreme Leader was speaking to the Iranian Judiciary in the city. The second deployment took place between March and April 2018 when Khamenei addressed the Assembly of Experts during Nowruz, the Iranian New Year. And the most recent deployment occurred between July and August 2018 when the Ayatollah attended the ritual ceremony of clearing dust from the tomb of Imam Ridha.
Components observed typically include two 5P85TE2 transporter-erector-launcher (TEL), a 30N6E2 (Tomb Stone) target engagement radar, and the 96L6E target acquisition radar. All components were visible at the airbase except during July 2017 when the 96L6E did not deploy. On all three deployments, the system components relocated from their position at the Tehran-Mehrabad International Airport located in western Tehran. Handheld video suggests they were transported via highway.
In addition to Mehrabad, Iran’s other active S-300PMU-2 sites are located at Bushehr, Khavar Shahr, and Esfahan. A full-strength Iranian battery is comprised of four TELs. Masshad, located in the northeast, is approximately 75 kilometers (km) and 170 km from the borders of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, respectively. The S-300PMU-2 has an engagement range of 200 km.
The new construction activity suggests that Iran will continue with deploying the system out to the airbase. The current pad configuration suggests that it will maintain the less than full strength deployment.