Iran threat retaliation against US after deployment of Patriot MIM-104 air defense systems in Iraq

Iran threat retaliation against US after deployment of Patriot MIM-104 air defense systems in Iraq
Iran threat retaliation against US after deployment of Patriot MIM-104 air defense systems in Iraq

Iran has warned of possible retaliation to the US strategic interest, after Washington deployed MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile (SAM) system to the Ain al-Asad base in the province of Anbar and the Harir base.

US deployment of Patriot defence system in Iraq has been negotiated since the January missile strike targeting the Ain al-Asad that Iran launched in retaliation for the US strike that killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani.

“The re-positioning and moves of the American military in Iraq and the region might be a kind of psychological warfare,” Hussein Amir Abdullahian, Assistant Speaker of the Iranian Parliament for International Affairs, said.

“The White House witnessed firsthand the strength of the Iraqi people (…) If the Americans commit any new military error, it will undoubtedly lead to a faster American withdrawal from the region and the end of Zionism,” he added.

Tehran fired 16 ballistic missiles into Iraq on January 8 at US military base. Iran launched its missiles from three sites in Iran, with 11 striking a base in Ain al-Asad and one hitting a base in Erbil. At that time, with no ballistic missile interceptors in range, US armed forces could only watch and wait for impact of the missiles. A closer look at the attack brought US CENTCOM to provide additional ballistic missile intercept capacity to the region.

Iran threat retaliation against US after deployment of Patriot MIM-104 air defense systems in Iraq

Tehran may have chosen to taregt Ain al-Asad and Erbil base specifically because they lacked ballistic missiles defences.

The US By creating a risk of interception, not only will protect its troops, but it will further complicate adversary strategic planning by injecting additional operational constraints, and unknown variables.

Patriot (MIM-104) is a long-range, all-altitude, all-weather SAM air defence system capable to intercept tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and aircraft. The SAM system is produced by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin.

Patriot is currently in service in the US, Germany, Greece, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Korea, Poland, Sweden, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Romania, Spain, Taiwan and now Iraq.

The possibility of attacks against US forces has increased recently after the international coalition evacuated bases in Iraq.

In a tweet, the former Chief-Commander of the IRGC Major-General Mohsen Rezaei compared a possible US attack to an assault by ISIS. “America should leave Iraq; otherwise Iraqis will kick them out,” he added.

Iraq had long opposed the deployment of Patriot systems because it feared Tehran would have perceived it as a threat and further ramp up regional tensions.

Coronavirus makes Iran’s ballistic missiles inventory more dangerous

The US has expressed its concern over Iran’s inventory of 2,500-3,000 ballistic missiles as coronavirus outbreak makes Tehran more dangerous, US CENTCOM Commander General Kenneth McKenzie.

McKenzie told the Senate Armed Services Committee on 10 March that most of the missiles are shorter-range weapons and announced that the military was now moving more assets to Prince Sultan Air Base (PSAB) in central Saudi Arabia. The base is 580 km from the Iranian mainland and is defended by at least one Patriot air defence battery.

How strong is Iran’s defence system?

Iran has vowed to retaliate after its most powerful figure among forces aligned with Iran throughout the Middle East was killed by a U.S. drone strike at Baghdad airport. But, how strong is Iran’s defence system?

According to the UK-based think tank, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, there is an estimated 523,000 active Iranian personnel in a variety of military roles.

In the regular army, this includes 350,000 and in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) at least 150,000 (read more)

Matteo Natalucci

Matteo Natalucci is a geopolitics expert working as an Editor in London covering all aspects of international affairs and technology. Matteo previously worked for the United Nations, the European Commission, Thomson Reuters, Bloomberg, IHS Markit, and Global Data. Get in touch with the author: matteo.natalucci@internationalinsider.org

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