"The S-300 system, which has a radius of over 90 miles and effective
altitudes of about 90,000 feet, is capable of tracking up to 100 targets
simultaneously," the report, titled "The Russian-Georgian War: Implications
for the Middle East," said. "It is considered one of the best in the world
and is amazingly versatile. It is capable of shooting down aircraft, cruise
missiles, and ballistic missile warheads."
The report said the S-300 would hamper any Israeli or U.S. attack on
Iran's nuclear weapons facilities. Cohen said Iran would deploy the S-300 to
defend the nation's nuclear infrastructure.
"The deployment of the anti-aircraft shield next spring, if it occurs,
effectively limits the window in which Israel or the United States could
conduct an effective aerial campaign aimed at destroying, delaying or
crippling the Iranian nuclear program," the report said. "The Islamic
republic will use the long-range anti-aircraft system, in
addition to the point-defense TOR-M-1 short-range Russian-made system, to
protect its nuclear infrastructure, including suspected nuclear weapons
facilities, from a potential U.S. or Israeli preventive strike."
Cohen, a senior researcher at the Washington-based Heritage Foundation,
said Israel has used electronic warfare to defeat Soviet- and Russian-origin
technologies, including air defense systems. In 1982, the Israeli Air Force
destroyed the Syrian air defense umbrella in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, leading
to a loss of 90 Syrian fighter-jets in two days.
"However, a mission over Iran, if and when decided upon, is very
different than operations over neighboring Syria," the report said. "First,
if Israel waits until March 2009, there may be a president in the White
House who emphasizes diplomacy over military operations. Even if the George
W. Bush administration allows Israel overflight of Iraqi airspace and
aerial refueling, a future administration might not, opting for an
aggressive diplomacy approach instead -- especially with an emboldened and
truculent Russia as a geopolitical counter-balance."
Cohen, quoting a Russian source, said Israel was capable of striking 20
targets simultaneously. But the report said Iran might have as many as 100
"Many of the Iranian targets are fortified, and will require bunker
busters," the report said. "Operational challenges abound. Israel's EW
planes, needed to suppress anti-aircraft batteries, are slow and unarmed,
and could become a target for Iranian anti-aircraft missiles or even fighter
"But the most important question analysts are asking is whether the
current Israeli leadership has the knowledge and the gumption to pull it
off," the report said. "After all, the results of the 2006 mini-war against
Hizbullah were disastrous for Israel, and the Israel Defense Forces have
exposed numerous flaws in its preparedness, supply chain, and command,
control, communications and intelligence."