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Thread: Bluffer’s guide: Fortress Iran 2

  1. #1

    Default Bluffer’s guide: Fortress Iran 2

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Bluffer’s guide: Fortress Iran 2[/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Amateur unbiased analysis and illustrations. All pics by me unless obviously a photo . Constructive feedback and discussion encouraged. [/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Air Defence Update[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]This section should be considered as in addition to the previous ‘Fortress Iran’ HERE[/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]S-300 SAM systemCONFIRMED![/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]There have been consistent reports of Iranian interest in the advanced Russian S-300 SAM system and even rumors of deployment but these have been unsubstantiated for years. As of Jan 2009 it can be confirmed via commercial satellite imagery that Iran does possess S-300 SAMs. The likely model is S-300 PMU-2 although the slightly older PMU-1 is a possibility. The latest S-400 cannot be ruled out but this seems less likely. The likely source of this system remains Russia although China also manufactures S-300 PMU-1 systems. [/SIZE][/FONT]


    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]The S-300 PMU-2 SAM system is among the most feared, and hyped, air-defense weapons in service anywhere and represents a quantum leap for Iranian air defences. Iran reported to have inducted into service a long range SAM system, by implication an indigenous one, earlier this year. Iranian press reports are commonly inaccurate, especially about the origin of technologies (as are the press in most countries!!!) so this may tie in with the S-300 system. [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Site analysis[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Firstly I’m surprised the site is so close to the nuclear site, which is not a weapons related site. The whole area of Bushehr is heavily defended by multiple I-Hawk and even SA-5 (S-200) SAMs and numerous AAA sites. It is possible that the S-300 site here replaces the other SAMs although because it’s a new site (converted from AAA) we can assume that the other SAM systems are still present. Additionally, the Bushehr location allows the long range S-300 missiles to cover most of the Persian Gulf effectively deterring strike aircraft from taking the ‘straight across’ route from US or the Gulf States, or Israel. [/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Like the SA-5 in Iranian service, the known S-300 site is noteworthy in that it has fewer launch positions than would be expected for S-300 in service elsewhere. There are two obvious firing pans (as per Iranian S-200) although each is designed for two missile TELs which means up to 16 missiles ‘ready to fire’. Additionally the S-300 is much more mobile than other Iranian systems so additional launchers could easily be set up nearby and networked in. There is only one elevated radar ramp, presumably for the fire-control radar. The radar in this case looks to me more like the ‘Cheeseboard’ system rather than a ‘Flap lid’ series, hence my belief that it is S-300 PMU-2 not PMU-1. Additionally, the ‘Big bird’ surveillance radar effectively rules out older version of the S-300, although not conclusively. [/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Alternative hypothesis [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Alternatively, the fresh satellite images are not Russian supplied S-300 but an Iranian clone/cousin of the system. That Iran is developing an indigenous “S-300” has been reported, and possibly with a lot of Russian assistance although we should strictly treat it as a rumor. The system would be similar in capability to the S-300 and share many technologies but may be quite different in end product – akin to the Chinese HQ-9 program. The below illustration shows a ‘what-if’ of an “Iranianized” S-300 system:[/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Iranian garage-build CIWS[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Iran uses a large number of AAA particular to defend static high-value installations, such as nuclear sites. Further, Iran has purchased much more advanced SA-15 and Pantsyr S-1E short-range SAM systems. However, these are expensive and not easily reverse engineered, so Iran has also pursued numerous indigenous AAA projects. The main ones, and most successful it seems, have been simply reverse engineering the ubiquitous Russian Zu-23-2 23mm gun and the Swiss 35mm Oerlikon ‘Sky guard’ system. However, these offer little defense against cruise missiles and PGMs. Perhaps with this in mind Iran has pursued several lines of development to improve accuracy, or volume of fire. [/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Fully automating the 100mm AAA[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]This project has only recently been unveiled. Essentially the obsolete crew-intensive KS-1 gun has been modernized so that it has fully autonomous transverse, elevation and firing. Coupled with a fire control system this allows much more accurate fire (and by implication greater effective range) than with a human crew. It also seems possible that a guided shell is used, although this is unconfirmed. If deployed in numbers this system will greatly enhance Iranian SHORAD. [/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Super-size Zu-23[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]The Zu-23-2 is a pretty decent AAA, but Iranian engineers have come up with a fiendishly cool idea: Why not bolt three Zu-23s together, so that you have three times the volume of fire? The Zu-23-6 uses a S-60 57mm AAA gun carriage, and has an assumed cyclic rate of fire of 6,000 rds per minute. That’s more than the Phalanx CIWS![/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Another project involving improving the Zu-23 is to make it fully autonomous, although it’s not clear if this has progressed beyond trials. [/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]There is also an Zu-23 with MANPAD missiles attached although it’s not clear if this has entered service.[/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Increase in Iranian air defence sites from 2003 – 2006 and beyond[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Iran greatly increased the number of AAA sites from 2003 onwards, especially around nuclear sites. In part this was because once Iran’s nuclear programs were revealed, there was no longer a need for ‘low key’ installations. The ‘historic imagery’ feature on Google Earth lets compare satellite imagery across time:[/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Imagery of Natanz nuclear site is particularly interesting as it shows the construction of the ‘secret’ underground complex to house the nuclear centrifuges. This was spotted by Western observers and the nature of the site is now well documented. [/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]I previously posted an analysis of the air defences around Natanz, identifying a mix of 23mm and 35mm AAA. This recent internet-sourced photo confirms the presence of the latter type. Always noce when analysis of satellite imagery is confirmed![/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]As well as AAA sites, the SAM sites covering the area are also quite recent:[/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Elsewhere in Iran we see a similar pattern, with many air defence positions being recently built:[/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Shiraz Air Base:[/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Bandar Abbas port:[/SIZE][/FONT]
    Last edited by planeman; 03-30-2009 at 09:40 PM.

  2. #2


    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Strategic missile forces[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3] [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Warning: Opinion[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Iran has a rapidly maturing missile industry providing Iranian forces with credible theatre-level missile coverage. Whilst the range of the missiles may not qualify as strategic in some analysts’ minds there can be little doubt that potential recipients of Iran’s missiles and indeed Iran’s strategists see things differently. Being on the receiving end of a ballistic missile should not be trivialized, but by the same token Iran’s conventionally armed missiles offer little strategic advantage or war-winning potential. The lack of warning before a missile strikes and the perceived helplessness to protect yourself from it has terrorized thousands of people across many wars and decades, from the V2s of World War 2, to the Scuds of the ’91 Gulf War. In fact the people of Tehran know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of Scuds having survived over a hundred in the Iran-Iraq war. Iran repaid Bagdad in kind with imported Scuds which actually laid the roots for Iran’s indigenous missile programmes. [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3] [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [SIZE=3][FONT=Calibri] However, despite their terrorizing nature, in every case where conventionally armed ballistic missiles have been used in war they have had no appreciable impact on the outcome of the war, being as often (more often!) employed by the losing side than the winning one. Some may dispute this citing the Iran-Iraq war where arguably Iraqi Scud/Al-Hussein missile strikes forced Iran back to diplomacy in the late ‘80s, but that can be argued either way. This is not a sound argument for dismissing their employment, but it provides some perspective on the often alarmist media reports of long range missiles. There is however a very simple way to turn even a single ballistic missile into a potentially war-winning strategic weapon and the answer lies in nuclear physics.[/FONT][/SIZE]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3] [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Nuclear missiles[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]There is widespread agreement that Iran is pursuing nuclear arms, but the exact pace of development is open to debate – indeed like North Korea the Tehran government is probably considering the optimal time to conduct the giveaway nuclear tests which will invariably trigger another round of international sanctions and partial exile. The Iranian government denies it of course, but few even among Iran’s fans buy that tale. How much does Iran care about isolation? Probably not as much as it cares about restoring the strategic balance with its primary foe Israel. So why then is Iran appearing to drag its heels in nuclear development, and yet pursue a missile building programme that is geared first and foremost to nuclear deterrence? Israel, though undeclared, almost certainly has nuclear missiles of her own targeted at Tehran (Jericho II and III). In fact we can speculate that it is a feared first strike by Israel in the event of Iranian nuclear tests that is deferring progress. In the cold light of day it is obvious that militarily Israel has a substantial advantage over Iran in a ballistic missile exchange, with mature nuclear missile technology, anti-ballistic-missile defences and of course uncle Sam in the background. However, just one Iranian nuke getting through could at least provide a death-grip defence for Iran; a scenario that equates to ‘mutually assured destruction’ deterrence (MAD). Some hawks who either don’t remember the cold war, or where too young or too stupid to understand the inhumanity of the threat of nuclear holocaust hanging over people’s everyday lives, may theorize that Iran being the larger and more remote country can sustain relatively more nuclear strikes than the tiny densely populated Israel. Indeed, that was Chairman Mao’s logic for wanting a nuclear war with USSR (yes, he was a nutcase). However one nuke on Tehran is a humanitarian disaster not worth thinking about so it’s idiotic if Iran contemplates any sort of offensive nuclear action. However if we consider the Iranian governments’ sense of duty towards the anti-Israeli cause, and the fact that Iran herself is surround by nuclear powers (Israel, Russia, Pakistan, India as well as US, France, China and UK who have truly global reach), it’s easy to understand why the Iranian military is pursuing long range missiles. [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3] [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Whilst Iran’s hostility to US is in plain sight, there is no credible evidence to suggest that Iran is pursing missiles that can reach the US. That may one day change, but for the moment intermediate-range missiles seem to be the primary concern. It is in this aspect that Iranian priorities differ from North Koreas; to paraphrase an expert on ACIG, North Korea is hoping for a chess piece to somehow checkmate the US with the threat of intercontinental strike, Iran is focused more on Israel. In order to hit US mainland targets Iran would require a missile with a range in excess of 9,000km:[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3] [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]In order to counter Iran’s missiles Israel developed the Arrow anti-ballistic missile system and other countries in the region are also arranging similar defences. UAE has reportedly ordered the equivalent US made THAAD system and the US is intending to base its own ABM systems in Poland (although Russia is a more obvious consideration for US, Poland happens to be on the direct route from Iran to NE USA). [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3] [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Overview of main missiles[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3] [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3] [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Shahab-3 missile[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]The Shahab-3 (aka Ghadr) is the main strategic missile in Iranian service. A clone of the North Korean NoDong-1, itself an evolution of the older Scud series. The Shahab-3 has a likely range in the region of about 1,500km although 2,000km+ is often claimed. [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Unlike the Scud, the Shahab-3 is carried on a towed lorry trailer. The design of these trailers varies so greatly that it seems to me that each is a separate conversion of an existing articulated lorry trailer, rather than a mass produced product. Some launchers (“TELs”) are camouflaged to look like regular civilian trucks:[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3] [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]The Shahab family of missiles is quite confusing, in part because Iran frequently unveils ‘new’ versions some of which may not be operational variants, and because the Western media/defence observers are ****e to speculation, inventing their own names. Here is a short sharp explanation from ‘Eagle2005’ on IranMilitaryForum:[/SIZE][/FONT]
    Shahab-3= NoDong missile imported/assembled from N. Korean kits (1000-1300km)[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Shahab-3A= First Iranian built version, better range thanks to various sizes of warheads and possible better guidance system (unconfirmed) 1300-1500km[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Shahab-3B= Uses the "baby bottle" REV also known as Rocket-Nozzle that allows it to change its trajectory in flight and throwing off ABM systems and likely uses a INS/GPS aided guidance system (1700-2000km)[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Ghadr-1= Identical to above but slightly longer and possibly slightly larger warhead (1800-2000km)
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3] [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3] [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]This is a more advanced version of the Shahab-3, also sometimes referred to as Shahab-3M. The main feature is a new re-entry vehicle, reportedly capable of maneuvering to thwart an anti-missile intercept such as the Israeli Arrow ABM system. Some sources say that this rocket is two-stage although it seems likely that the second stage refers to the re-entry vehicle which may have rocket thrusters. The missile possibly employs GPS (global positioning from satellites, has issues if US ‘turns off’ civilian GPS) and almost certainly INS (internal navigation) for greater accuracy. [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3] [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]The Shahab-3/3B give Iran the capability to hit targets in Israel:[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]For a great analysis of Saudi ballistic missile sites try here HERE[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]I’ve drawn Israel’s range at the commonly quoted 1,500km which is a fraction too short to reach Tehran, but I feel it’s likely that in reality Israeli nuclear missiles range all the way across Iran.[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3] [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3] [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]The most widely reported Iranian ballistic missile site appears to be at Tabriz in NE Iran:[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3] [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Initially the missiles used an old HQ-2 SAM site:[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Note, I am not confident in the ID of the vehicles, they are actually a bit on the short side for Shahab-3).[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3] [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]More recently at least two missile silos have been built to increase survivability. It’s not clear what type of missiles are hosed in the silos but it is most likely Shahab-3B based on the timing of their construction:[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3] [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]The Ghadr-1(’Might’, as in “mighty” rather than “might work”) is outwardly very similar to the Shahab-3B although about 300mm longer. The missile was also test launched on the pretext of the Iranian space program under the designation ‘Kavoshgar ‘. Fars news, a semi-government Iranian news agency, claim that this is solid fuelled and has a range of 2,000km, although video of the Kavoshgar suggest that it retains a liquid-fuel engine as per the Shahab-3; perhaps the solid fuel engine refers to a small second stage. Iran reported that the Kavoshgar rocket reached an altitude of 200-250 kilometers. [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3] [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]There is another “Ghadr” missile described as the Ghadr-110 although I have been unable to pin down exactly what that is. [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3] [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3] [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Shahab-4, 5 & 6[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]There has been consistent speculation of increased range Shahab missiles, most likely using multiple stages. These have rumor increment the version number every few years; we are currently at Shahab-6. This assumption is often supported by the close links between the Iranian and North Korean missile programs. Ironically it is now Iran that is assisting the North Koreans with their “space” programme not vice versa, although North Korea is still employing its own rockets. Iran certainly has the technology to build multi-stage ‘Shahab’ rockets as proven by the successful launch of the Omid satellite on a ‘Safir’ rocket, really just a Shahab with an extra stage on it. The Safir is launched from a typical Iranian missile TEL although it was painted white to give a more civilian look to it:[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]We can theorize that the same approach could be employed for a much longer ranged missile, perhaps with a 5,000km range:[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Yet no Shahab-4, 5 or 6 has ever been seen and there’s no proof that Iran is actually following the design path of ever larger liquid-fuelled missiles as North Korea is. Instead Iran has recently showcased a solid fuel missile, the Sejil:[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3] [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]The Sejil is a much more modern concept than the Shahab series, using a multi-stage solid fuel rocket motor. The missile is about the size of the Shahab, although probably a bit longer, and appears to have the same re-entry vehicle as the Shahab-3B. [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]There is speculation that the Sejil uses liquid fuelled thrusters for control but this is unconfirmed, more likely in my view it uses TVC paddles like other ballistic missiles. Range is unknown but likely to be similar to, if not greatly exceeding, the Shahab-3B. It is not yet clear if the missile is in operational service but it appears a more likely future development avenue than the liquid fuelled Shahab series. [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3] [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3] [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3] [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3] [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [SIZE=3][FONT=Calibri]As well as the medium ranged Shahabs and Sejil missiles, Iran still employs significant numbers of the older, smaller and shorter ranged Scud missiles, known as Shahab-1 (equiv: Scud-C) and Shahab-2 (equiv: Scud-C+). Iran likely received its first Scuds from Libya during the Iran-Iraq war but soon became a customer of North Korea for this technology, even setting up a Scud factory (North Korean Scuds have local designations such as Hwasong-6 ). [/FONT][/SIZE]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Although Iran employs the classic Soviet Maz TEL, there is at least one indigenous platform used for the Shahab-1/2:[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3] [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Zelzal-1,2 & 3[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]The Zelzal series of battlefield rockets are loosely equivalent to the Soviet FROG series. A wide range of TELs are employed, some painted in civilian ‘disguise’. [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]The missiles caused some international amusement when four were fired simultaneously during a military exercise, except one failed to launch. The Iranian press photoshopped it out and added a fake missile launch, thus emphasizing the failure.[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3] [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Fatah A-110[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]The Fatah A-110 is a guided missile similar in concept to the SS-21 ‘Scarab’ missile. The Fatah A-110 uses a solid fuel rocket and probably combines INS and GPS guidence (some sources say electro-optical guidance) and has a range of about 100km. The first missiles were mounted on an HQ-2 SAM launcher which further reduces mobility, but more recently truck-launched versions have appeared. The missile appears to be in widespread service.[/SIZE][/FONT]

  3. #3


    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Iranian Air Power[/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]I cannot catalog the whole Iranian air force (IRIAF)/ guard’s air force (IRCG-AF), so I will concentrate on the indigenous programs and a couple of main combat types.[/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Iran has a modestly sized but relatively fragmented inventory. On the one hand reports that the legacy Western types were all but grounded due to spares shortages is plainly overstated, the fleets are all the same not at original strength.[/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Operational Combat aircraft[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]MiG-29A/UB Fulcrum (40) –Air defence[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]F-14A Tomcat (~20) –Air defence[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Mirage F-1EQ (ex Iraqi) (12) – Fighter bomber[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]F-4D/E Phantom – II (~50) – Fighter bomber[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]F-5A/B/E/F Tiger/II (~50) –Fighter bomber[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Su-24 Fencer (24) -Interdiction[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Su-25 Frogfoot (IRGC-AF) (13) –Close support[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]F-7M Airguard (24) –Air defence[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]AH-1J Cobra –Attack helicopter[/SIZE][/FONT]


    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]In general terms Iran’s air force is modernizing at a slower rate than most of its neighbors in the middle east region. Across the Gulf, Iran faces off against F-15s, late model F-16s, Mirage 2k5 and now Eurofighter Typhoons. Although Iran does have a BVR capability, it lacks a ‘modern’ BVR missile in the AMRAAM class. There are rumors that Iran may purchase F-10 fighters from China, or Su-27 fighters from Russia to redress the gap but these do not appear to have materialized. A more common claim seems to be that Iran’s indigenous fighter programs are entering service. Iranians are rightly proud of the accomplishments of their aero-engineers against a backdrop of sanctions, but in all fairness Iranian aero-technology is nowhere near the maturity of other countries and claims of Iranian super-fighters are farfetched to say the least. [/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]F-14A Tomcat[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Iran received F-14A Tomcats just before the fall of the Shah’s regime. The aircraft are reported to have been quite successful in the Iran-Iraq war but operational numbers have dropped as years of attrition and spares shortages bite – however Iran has kept a good number flying. My estimate is of a combat ready fleet of about 40 aircraft. Because of shortages of US made Phoenix long range missiles Iran has adapted the locally produced Hawk SAM as an AAM under the name Sedjeel:[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]The Sedjeel has a likely range of about 60km. [/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Analysis of F-14As present at visible on Google Earth suggests significant numbers remain active (satellite imagery on,ly catches aircraft outside their hangers so these figures are the tip of the iceberg. But they do confirm significant activity):[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Esfahan AB[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]23rd July 2002: 3[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]21st April 2004: 4[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]13th September 2006: 6[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]14th October 2007: 4[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]25th January 2008: 0[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Mehrabad AB (deep maintenance unit)[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]23th February 2000: 1[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]10th January 2004: 3[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]8th April 2004: 4[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]21st August 2004: 2[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]23rd November 2004: 1[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]4th June 2005: 0[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]22nd August 2005: 2[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]30th May 2008: 4[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Bushehr AB[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]21st May 2004: 1[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]29th April 2005: 2[/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Iranian F-14s may have received modest upgrades but there is no supporting evidence to support tales of Russian engines or radars. The Phoenix stocks are by all accounts low and Iran has adapted the semi-active radar guided Hawk SAM missile, which it reverse engineered and now produces, as an AAM under the name Sedjeel. [/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]MiG-29 Fulcrum[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Iran operates a modest fleet of this capable fighter. The models in Iranian service are middle-of-the-road as far as MiG-29 export models go, having the capability to operate the potent AA-11 Archer missile but not the AA-12 Adder. It honestly surprises me that Iran hasn’t either upgraded the Fulcrums with newer radars and AA-12, or purchased more advanced Fulcrums. [/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]F-4 Phantom II[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Iran purchased considerable numbers of F-4D and F-4E Phantom II fighters from USA. The ultimate 1970s multi-role fighter, these are now probably operated as fighter-bombers. Some have undergone various modifications, including tanker conversions, but are most noteworthy for their involvement in Iran’s many air-launched missile programs. Unlike the F-14 Iranian Phantoms retain the 1970s camouflage theme rather than the more recent tan/blue combos.[/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Other fighters[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Iran operates large numbers of F-5A Tiger and F-5E Tiger II fighters. Additionally a small number of Chinese MiG-21 based F-7M AirGuard fighters were purchased. These are apparently operated by the Guards (IRGC-AF) in the air-defence role although they are widely regarded as inferior and obsolete. Iran also received a significant number of Iraqi aircraft which fled there during Gulf War 1. Of these many were placed in storage but 12 Mirage F-1 fighters were put into service. These are employed in the air-ground role, where they are still a credible and formidable force. [/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Indigenous Fighter programs[/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]The most contentious Iranian program is the Safagh program. The Safagh is based on the Russian MiG-ATF project (and related developments/concepts) and features a distinctive ‘saucer’ wing. The type is a very modern design and can be loosely compared to the Indian LCA or Chinese FC-1 types. Some even compare it, with some justification, to the F-35. Despite some radar cross-section reducing features the Safagh certainly isn’t a truly stealthy design however. The design is mostly likely intended as a supersonic advanced trainer and a single-seat light fighter to replace the F-5, F-7M and Mirage F-1 types in Iranian service. The Safagh was built at least as far as a very nicely finished wooden mock-up but there is no evidence of a flying prototype let alone operational jets. [/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Another consistent theme is the mystery fighter whose model is sometimes shown in public. This design is generally 1970s in nature and may be related to the F-18 (the plans of the YF-17 Iran allegedly got in the 1970s). The aircraft appears to be single engine but features a wide box-like rear fuselage. Large twin fins resemble the Su-27’s. The forward fuselage is slab-sided (terrible for RCS) and the cockpit appears almost squashed. [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]I do not believe this type ever enter production, probably representing a 1990s program which was quickly shelved when Russia shared MiG-ATF technology[/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Iran builds and/or extensively re-manufactures F-5s under the name Azarakhsh. These are most likely conversions and include early model F-5As and more recent F-5Es, as well as F-5Fs. There is no appreciable improvement over the F-5. Some F-5As, possibly 2, where rebuilt as two-seat F-5B trainers and are known as Simorgh. Azarakhsh tend to be painted in a very nice dark green with Yellow shark motive on the fin. [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]At least one has been built with a completely new wing arrangement, featuring a mod-set wing with larger leading edge extension over the intake. The elevators have also been moved and there are some minor tweaks elsewhere. This is most likely an experimental type, possibly related to the Safagh.[/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]A more ambitious development of the F-5 is the Saeqeh. At least four have been built but only three have been shown off at any one time. [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]There are two distinct versions, with two of each known:[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]‘A’ (above). [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]. Twin fins are mounted on a large composite bracket which extends past the tail. [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]. The air intake is squared. Contrary to popular comments, I do not believe that the intake is significantly larger than the F-5’s. [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]. There is a tiny V shaped tray under the radome.[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]. The cockpit canopy may be marginally more ‘bubble’ like than the regular F-5 one. [/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]‘B’ (not drawn)[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]. much less extreme modification. Only twin tails are noticeably different from original F-5. These are mounted on much less ‘well finished’ brackets. [/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Most observers comment that the square-intake version is more recent and represents the production type. I differ, believing that the less radical version is more likely the production type – maybe the other features didn’t prove worthwhile investments. Either way, it’s not farfetched to believe that this type is entering operational service. [/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]The Tazarv trainer is an interesting design using mostly composite construction and a single turbojet borrowed from the F-5 type. The design is very distinctive and clearly 100% Iranian. The design has some odd features with a long nose and small cockpit canopy. Several have been built and at least one has flown with redesigned air intakes. The type can carry light weaponry and is probably intended as a basic trainer. [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]The Tazarv was preceded by the Dorna, ironically a more conventional design. It was only ever a prototype:[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Iran often names its indigenous air-launched weapons after attributes that are highly regarded in the Iranian military[/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Iranian AWACs[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Iran got at least two AEW/AWACs aircraft from Iraq during GW1. The first is a Baghdad-1 type, a conversion of an Il-76 transport by putting a French made radar in the rear cargo ramp. This gives a very limited surveillance arc and means that the aircraft has to fly away from the target direction. [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]The Baghdad was flown by IRIAF, possibly as a cargo plane, but appears to have been inactive for several years at Mehrabad air base in Tehran. The aircraft is now in very bad shape and almost certainly retired. [/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]The other AEW converted Il-76 Iran got was the far more credible Adnan type, featuring the same French radar but in a conventional rotodome above the fuselage for 360 degree coverage. This was inactive for several years as Shiraz AB but is now operational:[/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Iran has renamed the Adnan with an Iranian name, Simorgh (confusingly as per the F-5B conversion mentioned above). The Iraqi origin is still evident in the uncharacteristic slanted tail flash (which used to be the Iraqi flag). [/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]The Baghdad AEW is impossible to discern from a regular Il-76 in this image but the ID is confirmed by other photographs:[/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]If Iran deploys indigenous AEW platforms it will most likely be on an Iran-140 turboprop platform:[/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Iranian helicopter production[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Iran manufactures various reverse-engineered US designed Bell helicopters. The most notable is the AH-1 Cobra gunship, but most curious was a 1980s project to make a light scout/attack helicopter based on the Bell 206 Jet ranger:[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]The type never entered service.[/SIZE][/FONT]
    Last edited by planeman; 04-01-2009 at 01:05 AM.

  4. #4


    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Army systems[/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Iran produces a very wide range of army equipment. To really scirt arount the edge, here are a couple of the more interesting projects. [/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Firstly Iran produces an unlicensed copy of the Styr HS50 50cal sniper rifle. 500 rifles were initially delivered from the Austrian manufacturer. [/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]The main assault rifle of the Iranian military is the German G3 type which again is locally produced. The ubiquitous AK-47 is also deployed in large numbers. More recently Iran imported an M-16 clone from China and started manufacturing it. Iran then developed a truly indigenous rifle called KH2002 which shares some features of the M-16 as well as many other modern bullpup types:[/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Iranian Abrams [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]The Zolfaqar main battle tanks started life as a hybrid of the US supplied M-60 MBT and the Russian 125mm smoothbore gun of the T-72. The resulting Zolfaqar-I tanks appears to have a relatively small box-like turret, presumably employing an auto-loader as per the T-72 (which is the main Iranian MBT). [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Although the Zolfaqar-I appears to have entered service, a more modern development was the Zolfaqar-II which featured new engine compartment, an extended chassis (7 road wheels from 6) and longer turret with sloping front and a bustle at the rear. This may indicate removal of the auto-loader or possibly a new auto-loader. The type appears to only been an interim type:[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]The Zplfaqar-II was superseded by the –III type which although clearly based on the Zolfaqar line now closely resembles the US Abrams MBT. Although the type is certainly credible, it is likely less sophisticated than the latest tankls now entering service elsewhere. [/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Naval power: Update[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]This section should be regarded as an update on this previous article: HERE[/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]The Iranian indigenous Corvette program continues at a very slow speed, although the ship is probably at least at sea-trials stage. Since my 2007 analysis new photos and satellite imagery has become available which clarifies some details and the weapons fit. Although the ship may carry shoulder-launched SAMs, it almost certainly doesn’t have a ‘proper’ naval SAM system. Air defences appear to consist of two manual aimed 20mm AAA in front of the bridge, a 76mm DP main gun and an AAA tutrret, probably twin 35mm, at the rear; this is a major deficiency. [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3][IMG]http://i43.*******.com/r8zg9ddotjpg [/IMG][/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]Using the historic imagery function on Google Earth we can observe the slow pace of development:[/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]China Cat[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]It’s now clear that there are two basic versions of the ‘China Cat’ catamaran fast attack craft in Iranian service. The first is a missile boat with 4 Kowsar missiles, probably of the TL-10A type. The second is a rocket armed boat with an MRLS on the cabin roof. The two versions have different cabin sides (the missile armed one has small round windows, the rocket armed one normal windows), and completely different masts and sensor fits. The gun at the front is now confirmed as a single barreled Zu-23 23mm autocannon. [/SIZE][/FONT]

    [FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3]An Iranian produced follow-on to the North Korean designed IPS-16 ‘Peykaap’ torpedo boat, this version has a significantly redesigned cabin, mast and additionally has two light anti-ship missiles on it. The missiles appear to be C-701 (“Kowsar’ – for an explanation of the various confusingly same-named Kowsar missiles see the previous posts linked to above). [/SIZE][/FONT]
    [SIZE=3][FONT=Calibri]The Peykaap-II (top) is less stealthy than the Peykaap-I and probably has a lower performance. It has been speculated that the Peykaap-I is at least semi-submersible; that’s very unlikely of the new version. At least a handful of these are in service, with my guess at 10-20. Claims that there are 74 in service is a misinterpretation of a press statement I believe. [/FONT][/SIZE]
    Last edited by planeman; 03-31-2009 at 12:29 AM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Wally1967's Avatar
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    Sep 2007
    Downunder Australia


    Wow nice post thanks for that!

  6. #6
    Senior Member StuRat's Avatar
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    May 2007


    Absolute outstanding work yet again Planeman.

    We'll know they got to you when you stop posting

  7. #7
    domesticated wildcat's Avatar
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    Cellin cat iz watchin yor threadz ∑:3


    Thanks some great information.

  8. #8
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    Great work as always. Thanks for posting.

  9. #9
    Senior Member futurepilot2004's Avatar
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    The city of Joyce, Wilde, Beckett and unfortunatly Bono


    Excellent post as always

  10. #10
    Senior Member G-AWZT's Avatar
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    Dec 2008


    Very informative. Basically the Iranian Navy and Air Force can be taken out of the equation. The air force would be mauled if they came up to intercept any Israeli/US aircraft. The Iranian Navy would be taken out within 72 hrs except for their subs which would take at least a week to 10 days to find and sink.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Bringer of Greater Things's Avatar
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    Portland, OR


    It would be interesting to see you do a side-by-side comparison of Iran and Israel.

    Great job, as always.

  12. #12
    Join Date
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    Richmond, BC, Canucks eh?


    Iran often names its indigenous air-launched weapons after attributes that are highly regarded in the Iranian military
    I lol'ed ...... I trusted that it is not the actual name but the type of the bomb right?

    If that's the case, which "highly regarded" attribute is this weapon named after?

  13. #13
    terrorist sympathiser
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    Quote Originally Posted by G-AWZT View Post
    Very informative. Basically the Iranian Navy and Air Force can be taken out of the equation. The air force would be mauled if they came up to intercept any Israeli/US aircraft. The Iranian Navy would be taken out within 72 hrs except for their subs which would take at least a week to 10 days to find and sink.
    ssheeez thats iranian airforce have no chances? and this is base on you expert opinion in iranian airforce and tactic?

    good work planeman

  14. #14
    Senior Member G-AWZT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ggk View Post
    ssheeez thats iranian airforce have no chances? and this is base on you expert opinion in iranian airforce and tactic?

    good work planeman

    The Israeli air force is probably the best in the world. If I was an Iranian air force pilot and ordered to intercept Israeli F-15s and F-16s I'd consider myself a walking statistic.

  15. #15
    terrorist sympathiser
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    Quote Originally Posted by G-AWZT View Post
    The Israeli air force is probably the best in the world. If I was an Iranian air force pilot and ordered to intercept Israeli F-15s and F-16s I'd consider myself a walking statistic.
    so you have a deep information on iranian air combat training and the quality of its pilot? can you share with us?

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