Electronic Weapons: Old Like New In Iran


July 2, 2014: Iran recently released gushing video announcements for its new Ghadir surveillance radar. While the Iranian government supplied description made it sound like the Ghadir radar advanced technology it is actually Cold War era stuff and several generations behind what the U.S. or Russia have developed and currently use. The Ghadir radar is a primitive phased array design that is useful for tracking low altitude (under 300 kilometers) space satellites and has a max range of 1,100 kilometers.

The false claims that a lot of new military technology has been developed inside Iran is apparently for domestic consumption, another attempt to show the Iranian people that the country is getting its money’s worth when it comes to defense and to ease fears that enemies like the U.S. or Israel could overwhelm Iranian defenses with superior technology.

Many Western nations, in addition to the United States, have become more aggressive in going after Iranian technology and hardware smuggling. Iran has been quite blatant about buying dual use equipment, and then openly using the stuff for military purposes. Ever since the U.S. embargo was imposed in 1979 (after Iran broke diplomatic protocol by seizing the American embassy), Iran has sought, with some success, to offer big money to smugglers who can beat the embargo and get needed industrial and military equipment. This is a risky business, and American and European prisons are full of Iranians and locals who tried, and often failed, to procure forbidden goods. The smuggling operations are currently under more scrutiny, and attack, because of Iran's growing nuclear weapons program. But the Iranians simply offer more money, and more smugglers step up to keep the goodies coming.

The U.S. has gotten more successful, at shutting down Iranian smuggling operations. Not just by bribing the smugglers themselves, but also by getting the cooperation of nations the smugglers operate out of. This has been so successful that most of these smugglers no longer feel safe working out of Arab Persian Gulf nations (especially the United Arab Emirates). As a result, more smugglers are operating out of places like Malaysia, and the U.S. is trying to shut down that activity as well. America also monitors the international banking network, seeking signs of smuggler activity, and leaning on the banks involved, to step back.

The smuggling effort has been a mixed success. The Iranian armed forces are poorly equipped, because new tanks, warplanes and ships could not be sneaked in. Thus major weapons acquired in the 1970s are falling apart for want of sufficient replacement parts. Iran has been more successful at importing technology and Iranian engineers have turned a lot of this into updates for existing weapons and “new” items like the Ghadir surveillance radar.



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