Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hazrat Masumeh Air Defense Group (IRIADF)

Acronyms and Abbreviations
Introduction and Overview
Primary Garrison
FFEP Deployment
Footnotes and Works Cited

Acronyms and Abbreviatons:
AAA: Anti-Aircraft Artillery
ADG: Air Defense Group
BG2: Brigadier General, Second Class
FFEP: Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant
HM [ADG]: Hazrat Masumeh [Air Defense Group]
IRIADF: Islamic Republic of Iran Air Defense Force; aka Khatem ol-Anbiya Air Defense HQ
Lt. Col. : Lieutenant Colonel
SAM: Surface-to-Air Missile
UGF: Underground Facility
Lt. Col. Abarshi

Introduction and Overview:
The IRIADF's Hazrat Masumeh Air Defense Group (HM ADG) was formed in 2009 to protect the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant (FFEP). It's current commander is Lt. Col. Hossein Abarshi. [1] Based on it's location near Qom, the HM ADG should be subordinate to the Central Air Defense Region, under the command of BG2 Abazar Jookar. [2]

Primary Garrison:
The Group's primary garrison is located along the Qom-Tehran Freeway, in-between the the FFEP and the military depot to the west.

Construction began between 09/2009 and 03/2011, which is consistent with the group's reported creation date. As of the most recent imagery – 03/2013 – only a handful of buildings had been completed, and much of the available space remains undeveloped.

As least some of the group's equipment can be seen from 01/2012 onward, including AAA and equipment containers. Between 01/2012 and 08/2012, construction began on a UGF dug into the hillside to the north of the garrison.

FFEP Deployment:
Much of the group is deployed to the FFEP itself, where a small garrison for the site's security can be found alongside a separate facility for FFEP personnel. The two can be distinguished by the former's parade-yard, obstacle-course, and proximity to nearby firing-ranges and munition-storage shelters. This garrison pre-dates the HM ADG's formation, and is documented as far back as 06/2004.

The creation of the HM ADG in 2009 can be observed in the deployment of increasing levels of air-defense in the following years. Deployments are focused in a northward-facing arc, thanks to the passive defense provided by the range of hills running east-west, into whose north-face the FFEP is dug.

As of late-2009, no air-defense assets are visible. By 2011, several sites had been established, including:

1) Short/medium-range SAM Battery, most likely the MIM-23 HAWK. The battery is only visible at full-strength in 03/2011, with one of the firing-sections having displaced by the year's end. Four Zu-23-2s were deployed nearby.

2) Four 35 mm GDF-001/002s. Two of these were deployed in individual emplacements, while the other two were part of a Skyguard emplacement.

3) Four-gun AAA battery, organized into two firing sections. The type of gun is unknown, though the 100 mm KS-19 is a possibility. Orientation is toward the north-west.

At this time, the sites are characterized by ongoing construction, and field-expedient infrastructure. Revetments are bulldozed earth, roads are unpaved, and earth-moving equipment can be seen at work.

By the end of 2012, the sites showed increasing signs of permanency, though the overall strength was only mildly increased. This includes:

1) SAM firing-section. Though the original site is largely unchanged, except for the removal of AAA, construction had begun on a more permanent site further west with raised concrete pads reminiscent of Iran's other HAWK sites.

2) Two of the individually emplaced GDFs were relocated to permanent sites around the perimeter; a third GDF supplemented these. Meanwhile, the original Skyguard site had been vacated, and replaced with a four-gun battery of Zu-23-2s.

3) The northwest-oriented AAA battery remained, and had been further developed with raised concrete pads and crew facilities.

4) Further east, an early-warning radar – likely the Matla ul-Fajr, judging from antenna shadow and container type – had been deployed in a non-permanent site.

5) By the end of 2012, construction had begun on a permanent Skyguard site just south of the EW-radar.

Little change was evident by mid-2013, the date of the most recent imagery. Both the Skyguard and SAM sites remained under construction, while the existing sites underwent only minor changes. However, a handful of equipment was now parked in the open, including two GDFs near the EW-radar, and at least two GDFs and 11 Zu-23-2s in a motor-pool near the primary facility.

Footnotes / Works Cited:
[1] Commander of the Hazrat Masumeh Air Defense Base Visits with Qom's Friday Prayers Leader. Defa Press. 08/31/14.
[2] Iran's Air Defense Operations Center. Persian_boy. Youtube. 09/01/14.

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