Analysis: An Iranian SAM in the Arabian Peninsula

April 2, 2018

Weapon Program: 

  • Missile


Behnam Ben Taleblu


Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Last week, the Saudi Arabian embassy in Washington D.C. released a nine-page primer on Iran’s continued support to Yemen’s Houthi rebels. This document summarized findings from a March 26 press conference that followed a barrage of missile attacks against three Saudi cities on the eve of the third anniversary of the military operation in Yemen. Buried within the same document was photographic evidence of Saudi Arabia’s latest charge against Iran: the provision of the Sayyad-2C surface-to-air missile (SAM) to Houthi rebels.

What Do We Know About The Origins And Evolution Of The Sayyad-2?

The Sayyad-2 is a medium-range SAM that began production in Iran in November 2013. Just under five meters in length, the Sayyad-2 has an estimated range of 80-150 kilometers and can reportedly reach altitudes of 20,000-30,000 meters while carrying a high-explosive warhead.

Like most Iranian weapons, the Sayyad SAM has its origins in foreign military hardware. The Sayyad-2 is based on the American SM-1 (RIM-66), which the Iranian Navy reportedly received from the US prior to the 1979 Islamic Revolution. This SM-1 was suitable for rail-launch on Iranian vessels. Over the years, Iran is believed to have integrated its SM-1 variant into a new ground-based domestic air-defense systemcalled the Talash, which uses a canister-launcher. In 2012, Iran test-fired the domestically-manufactured Mehrab SAM, which stands to take the place of the Sayyad missile aboard Iran’s naval vessels. In 2013, Iranian outlets reported that the country’s S-200 SAM system (which uses a rail-launcher) would be equipped with the Sayyad-2. Iran has since developed a physically longer and longer-range Sayyad SAM for the Talash system called the Sayyad-3.


Read the full analysis at Foundation for Defense of Democracies.