TEHRAN | Iran’s military is to test a new air defense system modeled after the U.S. Hawk system as tensions with the West escalate over the country’s suspect nuclear program, the Iranian state TV reported Monday.
The report quoted Gen. Farzad Esmaili, chief of Iran’s air defense headquarters, as saying the surface-to-air system has been named “Mersad,” or Ambush.
The system is capable of locking on a flying object at a distance of 50 miles and can hit from 30 miles away, using an Iranian-made missile dubbed “Shahin,” or Hawk, according to the report.
The TV said Mersad will be tested during the military exercises that started last weekend. Billed as “massive,” the weeklong drill is also to include Iranian jet fighters, drones and about 8,000 troops, spanning over nearly the entire eastern half of Iran.
The drill is meant to upgrade Iranian capabilities amid rising tensions between Iran and the West over Tehran’s enrichment program, which can be a pathway to nuclear arms.
The U.S. and its allies fear the program masks Tehran’s ambitions to obtain a nuclear weapon. Iran denies the claim, insisting the nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.
The military drill also is expected to test Iran’s S-200 air defense system, which was first displayed in September. The S-200 is a Russian-made, medium-to-high altitude surface-to-air missile system designed primarily to track, target and destroy aircraft and cruise missiles.
22 police hurt, 176 arrested in march
WARSAW | Police said Monday that 22 officers were injured and 176 people were arrested in clashes with right-wing protesters marching on Poland’s Independence Day.
The disturbances broke out Sunday evening, when right-wing protesters, some of whom were masked, threw stones and metal objects at police in Warsaw. Police responded with rubber bullets and tear gas.
It is the second year in a row that Independence Day celebrations in the capital have been marred by violence on the sidelines.
The Independence Day celebrates Poland regaining its sovereignty at the end of World War I after more than 120 years of imposed foreign rule.
Harvest improves but shortages persist