April 5, 2007 / 2:46 PM / 13 years ago

U.S. could crack Iran air defense: Russian generals

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The United States would suffer losses if it attacked Iran but weight of numbers would ensure it eventually achieved air supremacy, Russian generals said on Thursday.

Iranian soldiers stand guard on an anti-aircraft machine gun inside the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, 322km (200 miles) south of Iran's capital Tehran March 9, 2006. The United States would suffer losses if it attacked Iran but weight of numbers would ensure it eventually achieved air supremacy, Russian generals said on Thursday. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi

“According to our estimates, Iran’s air defense system is pretty strong,” General Yuri Solovyov, head of Moscow’s air defenses, told a news conference.

“Iran’s weapons, among others, include our anti-aircraft systems which allow them to fight all types of flying objects currently in service in the U.S. army ... Besides, we all remember our specialists have trained them since Soviet times.”

Russia said in January it had completed delivery of TOR-M1 anti-aircraft missile systems to Iran, provoking an outcry from Washington and its Middle East ally Israel who said the sale undermined regional security.

Moscow said the missile systems were short-range and purely defensive. Russian media have quoted unnamed sources in Russian military intelligence as saying the United States could launch a strike on Iran as early as April 6.

Washington and Tehran are at loggerheads over Iran’s nuclear program which the West fears is aimed at building an atomic bomb. Iran says it wants only to produce electricity.

The U.S. has also accused Iran of supporting militants in neighboring Iraq.

“Today’s situation is such that the attacking side (the U.S,) has more modern and powerful weapons and enjoys supremacy in quantity, compared to Iran’s defenses,” said General Sergei Razygrayev, chief of staff of Moscow’s air defense system.

“They (the Americans) will be able to create such a quantitive supremacy that they will accomplish the set task, though they will also suffer losses,” Razygrayev said.

On Tuesday, Russian Chief of General Staff Yuri Baluyevsky was quoted as saying the U.S. could damage Iran’s military and industrial potential but “it is impossible to win”.

Razygrayev said that to project a possible scenario for Iran, Russian military experts had analyzed U.S. air strikes on former Yugoslavia and Iraq.

He said the U.S. would seek to suppress Iran’s radar systems and launch a massive strike with cruise missiles.

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