Military Knowledge: Majid Short-Range Air Defense System

Sunday 17 September 2023 - 20:31

The Iranian home-grown Majid Air Defense System is a short-range, low-altitude system with high mobility. This air defense system is suitable for tracking and destroying various low-altitude aerial targets such as drones, cruise missiles, helicopters, and so on. The Majid system was first displayed in a parade on April 18, 2021, and it was officially used in the military drills dubbed “Defenders of the Sky of Velayat 1400” (2021).

The Majid Air Defense System is named in memory of the Iranian martyr Majid Ghorban-Khani. This air defense system has been produced by the Defense Industries Organization (DIO) of the Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics of the Islamic Republic of Iran in a bid to upgrade short-range and low-altitude defense capabilities and it has high mobility and passive guidance for better survival in the battlefields of the today’s world.

After the end of the 8-year war imposed by the Iraqi Baath regime on Iran as well as the studies conducted in the Islamic Republic, there was a strong feeling of need for more coherent defense potential against flying targets that were flying at low altitudes. The presence of close air support fighter jets that flew at low altitudes and bombed the front lines during the Sacred Defense (Iraq-Iran war) showed that the quality of systems like Rapier surface-to-air missile system and their small number is not enough to confront enemy fighter jets and create a safe sky. For this reason, in the 1990s, the Islamic country started buying and developing air systems like Ya Zahra air defense system.

After the first [Persian] Gulf War and the United States’ extensive use of various types of cruise missiles, the Islamic Republic of Iran decided to buy systems such as Tor Soviet-era air defense missile system from Russia to confront the threat of cruise missiles. The process of development and study in the field of dealing with cruise targets continued until the 2010s and nowadays a wide range of missile systems and anti-aircraft canons have been produced and utilized to deal with various targets such as drones, cruise missiles, helicopters, and close air support fighter jets.

In 2020, the then deputy Minister of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics of the Islamic Republic of Iran announced the completion stages of a system called Majid, but no other details were published. The Majid Air Defense System was unveiled and introduced for the first time in the parade on April 18, 2021. The air defense system included two missiles and an airborne radiation detection system installed on an Aras 2 vehicle.

Some specifications of the Majid Air Defense System were released in a video introducing the Alborz three dimensional phased-array radar and the Borhan weapons control and command system on September 1, 2021. In this video, an image of the Borhan control screen was seen, indicating the specifications of the Majid Air Defense System as well as the ability of this system to be linked to the Borhan control and command system.

The video of the unveiling of Alborz radar and Borhan system, here is a picture of the linking of Majid system to Borhan system.

The fully mobile short-range Majid Air Defense System consists of two main parts. One part is its missiles and the other part is an electro-optical detection and tracking system, both parts are installed and used on an Aras 2 tactical vehicle. All parts of the system are located in the vehicle’s cargo section.

The weapon station includes four AD-08 missiles (capable of being increased to eight) on both sides and an electro-optical system in the center. The weapon station has a 360-degree rotation capability, and the electro-optical system also has a 360-degree rotation capability independent of the weapons station. This system is also installed on a 4×4 Iveco Daily truck in addition to the Aras 2 tactical vehicle.

The reason for such a change in a truck could be to create better camouflage during movement and a lower chance of detecting this system.

Carrier Vehicle:
The Aras 2 tactical vehicle is a 4×4 tactical vehicle manufactured by Iran’s Ministry of Defense. This vehicle offers high mobility, high speed, and off-road capability.
The Aras 2 tactical vehicle is a 4×4 tactical vehicle manufactured by Iran’s Ministry of Defense. This vehicle offers high mobility, high speed, and off-road capability.

This provides the Majid system with the ability to ambush or quickly relocate after tracking a target. The Iveco daily truck is a light 4×4 commercial truck made by the Italian company IVECO. This truck has a greater transport capacity than Aras 2 tactical vehicle and has probably been used to carry more missiles. Another possibility is better camouflage by the Iveco daily truck due to more space on the truck so that it can easily move on roads.

Electro-optical tracking and targeting system:
The electro-optical tracking and targeting system used in the Majid Air Defense System includes two cameras that are placed on top of each other and in the center of the weapon station.  

The electro-optical tracking and targeting system has a continuous 360-degree rotation capability independent of the weapon station. This system includes a daytime camera and a thermal camera, capable of operating at all times of day and night and in all types of weather.

The electro-optical tracking and targeting system used in the Majid Air Defense System can detect targets at a maximum range of 15 kilometers and guide four missiles simultaneously towards targets, allowing it to simultaneously protect itself from four different directions.

Electro-optic system cameras belonging to Majid air defense system

In normal mode, electro-optical systems rotate towards the target and guide a missile that has been fired until it hits.  

In this state-of-the-art mode, the electro-optical system only tracks one target and merely guides one missile. But with continuous rotation of the electro-optic system, it is possible to find different targets in all directions and then give a firing order.

In this mode, the camera can continuously monitor its surroundings, and to a great extent it can reduce the possibility of being surprised as well as the destruction of the system. In this guidance method, the electro-optic system becomes a search and targeting system capable of finding several targets that can guide several missiles.

In this video, the missile is fired at the same time as the electro-optical system rotates. This means that the system does not need a lock on the target.

The AD-08 missile:
The missile used in the Majid Air Defense System is a short-range missile with a thermal imager. This missile is sealed inside a tubular launcher and four of them are installed on the weapon station.

Given the presence of electrical connectors on each launcher, another launcher can be placed on top of the previous one. As a result, the Majid Air Defense System will be able to use eight missiles.

A graphic image of the Majid air defense system with 8 missiles (credit @marshallmo26 on X)

The missile has four stabilizing fins at the end and four control fins near the nose cone. The fins on the missile are foldable, allowing the missile to be placed inside a canister.

The Majid Air Defense System missile uses smokeless solid fuel. This type of fuel reduces the chance of detecting the launch site and increases the surprise of the enemy. Also, the AD-08 missile uses a thermal imaging camera at its nose cone, which guides and hits the target using this camera.

The electro-optical system issues a firing command after detecting the target. The missile moves towards the point announced by the system and then searches for the target by the use of its camera, locks onto it, and moves towards the target to destroy it. This method is the same as the fire-and-forget method, and as a result, the system can move immediately after firing. The use of a passive or non-active detector and the main system’s capacity to avoid locking onto the aim misleads the target.

The target will not be aware of thermal locking until the missile locks onto it. Also, being smokeless makes it impossible for the enemy to determine the path of movement of the missile and calculate information such as collision direction, speed, and so on to detect the launch location of the missile, which will take a long time.

In addition to this fact, due to using fire-and-forget capability, it has quick relocation capability. Therefore, if an enemy uses a decoy to detect the location of the system, given the mentioned conditions, the Majid Air Defense System does not leave much trace for detection and greatly increases its survival.

Types of Majid Air Defense System Missiles:

After examining published images of missiles and Majid Air Defense System, it seems that there may have been two versions of this missile: The initial version of the Majid Air Defense System was seen in the test footage, and the second version was showcased at ARMY-2023 exhibition and Doha Qatar exhibition.

Initial Version:
The missile in the initial version has two sections in terms of diameter. The nose section has a smaller diameter, as well as the middle and end section, which have a larger diameter. A thermal camera is located in the nose cone, then there are control fins, warhead, and fuel compartment and in the end, there are stabilizing fins and engine are located at end.

The prototype of the missile has a nose with a smaller diameter than the new model

New Version:
In the new or perhaps original version, the missile has three sections in terms of diameter. The location of the thermal camera is in the missile nose cone, which has the maximum diameter for placement in the canister. After that, there are control fins and a warhead, where the missile has a reduced diameter and appears to be the same as the original missile nose.

After the warhead, the missile diameter increases from the middle to the end and it appears to be the same as the missile tip. This section contains missile fuel, stabilizing fins, and a missile engine, which seems to be the same as the initial version.

Also, the final or original version of the missile has a uniform and integrated appearance generally in terms of body section and exterior. This missile has a different camera from the initial version in the camera section as well.

The new version of the AD-08 missile, which missile diameter increases from the middle to the end

The pictures below show the new model of the AD-08 missile, which was showcased for marketing at the Russian ARMY2023 exhibition. In the pictures, it is clear that a different camera is used than the prototype.

Systems linked to Majid air defense system:

Borhan weapons control and command system:
As mentioned earlier, the Majid system has the capability of linking to the Borhan system. The Borhan system is a command and control center for low-range and low-altitude weapons, which acts as the last level of command to create integration between systems in the last layer of defense.

This system can receive information from electro-optical and radar systems. After receiving and analyzing the information from all the sources, Burhan transfers them to the command and gives orders according to the type and nature of the target to all types of low-altitude systems available in the scene.

An image of the linking of the Borhan and Majid systems

Kashef 99 Radar:
Kashef 99 radar is a 3D phased array radar capable of detecting small flying targets. This radar is designed to detect targets with low radar cross section, low altitude and short range such as quadcopters. Kashef 99 can simultaneously detect 300 targets within a range of 12 km.
Kashef 99 is installed on a Toyota vehicle, which increases its mobility. It seems that there is a possibility of installing this radar on other vehicle as well. Due to the high power in detecting small birds, the Kashef radar is probably a part of the Battlefield Management System for the last layer of defense.

Kashef 99 radar with the ability to detect 300 small drones at a distance of 12 km

Prominent Features:
– The speed and agility of the Majid Air Defense System
– The ability to use various carriers
– The Fire-and-forget capability
– The Fire-and-forget capability
– The use of smokeless missiles resulting in better camouflage
– The ability to link with Borhan radar and system
– The independent operation in ambush mode
– The ability to operate within an integrated defense network
– The ability to develop and enhance system capabilities

Specifications of Majid short-range air defense system:
Type: Short-range air defense system
Producer: Ministry of Defense of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Origin: Iran
Unveiled: April 18, 2021
In service: since 2021
Crew: Unknown
Carrier vehicle: Aras 2 tactical vehicle and Iveco Daily truck
Weight: unknown
System range: 18 km
Range of engagement: 8 km
Altitude of fire: 6 km
Maximum target speed: Mach 2 (2450 km/h)
Number of simultaneously engaged targets: 4 targets
Response time: 3 seconds
Battery: each battery capable of firing 4 missiles (can be increased to 8 missiles)

AD-08 missile:
Length: 2.67 meters
Diameter: 156 mm
Warhead weight: 14 kg
Missile weight: 75 kg
Range: 8 km
altitude of fire: 6 km
Guidance: Passive IR homing
Speed: more than Mach 2

Majid Short-Range Air Defense System – click to view full size

More images of Majid short-range defense system:

Infographics of Majid air defense system Russian(Маджид Система Защиты Ближнего Действия), Hebrew(מג’יד מערכת הגנה אווירית), Persian(سامانه مجید) and Azeri(Məcid Qısa Məsafəli Müdafiə Sistemi):

سامانه پدافندی مجید رونمایی شد
گزارش تسنیم از سامانه موشکی مجید؛ محافظ جدید مراکز حساس در برابر تهدیدات پهپادی و کروز
‘No radar evading aircraft can escape Alborz, a new Iranian radar’: Iran’s Air Defense
«مجید» برگ برنده ایران در آخرین لایه پدافند هوایی
AD-08 Air Defense Missile Weapon System
Iran unveils its new AD-08 air defense missile system based on IVECO Daily 4×4 light truck

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