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Weapons: Iranian Wonder Weapon
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February 7, 2008: Iran, or, to be more precise, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), announced that they had flight tested a new, Iranian made, helicopter gunship. They also announced a new UAV with a range of 2,000 kilometers. Five months ago, the Iranians showed off a new Iranian made jet fighter, which appeared to be a make-work project for unemployed engineers. It's a bunch of rearranged parts on an old U.S. made F-5 (which was roughly equivalent to a 1950s era MiG-21). The new fighter, like so many other Iranian weapons projects, is more for PR than for improving military power.


If you go back and look at the many Iranian announcements of newly developed, high tech, weapons, all you find is a photo op for a prototype. Production versions of these weapons rarely show up.   Iranians know that, while the clerics and politicians talk a tough game, they rarely do anything. Even Iranian support of Islamic terrorism has been far less effective than the rhetoric. The Iranians have always been cautious, which is one reason Arabs fear them. When the Iranians do make their move, it tends to be decisive. But at the moment, the Iranians have no means to make a decisive move. Their military is mostly myth, having been run down by decades of sanctions, and the disruptions of the 1980s war with Iraq. Their most effective weapon is bluster, and, so far, it appears to be working.


But the Iranians know that nuclear weapons would make their bluff and bluster even more muscular. Even the suspicion that they had nukes would be beneficial. And that appears to be the current plan. One new weapon the Iranians do put a lot of money and effort into are ballistic missiles. They are building  an extended range (from 1,300 to 1,800 kilometer) version of their  Shahab 3 ballistic missile. The new version puts all of Israel within range, even if fired from deep inside Iran. Chemical  warheads (with nerve gas) are thought to be available for these missiles. But Israel has threatened to reply with nuclear weapons if the Iranians attack this way. Iran would probably get the worst of such an exchange, and the Iranians are aware of it.


Not all of the clerics that run the country are eager to go to war with Israel, or even threaten it. But because the clerical factions do not want to appear at odds with each other in public, the more radical leaders are allowed to rant away about attacking Israel. That's also the thinking behind the many IRGC press conferences announcing imaginary new weapons. The clerics are not going spend billions on mass production of second rate systems that are most notable for being designed in Iran.



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sclayton    Bluster works   2/7/2008 6:10:32 PM
The writer said of Iran, 

"Their military is mostly myth, having been run down by decades
of sanctions, and the disruptions of the 1980s war with Iraq. Their
most effective weapon is bluster, and, so far, it appears to be working." 

The only audience it is obviously workingon is the one the Iranians
must be aiming at: Bush, Cheney and Rice.   Despite rational military
analysis, those 3 continue to publicly insist that militarily insignificant
Iran is a present threat to the United States. 

Iran today appears to be a  politically  divided,  economically backward
and militarily weak nation with very little ability to influence even its
close neighbors. Turkey could quickly defeat Iran's military. The wealthy
Arab oil states do not see Iran as a threat or they would be working hard
 to build up a military deterrant - which they could afford if it were a priority.  
If it were not for vast oil resources,  Iran would be of little interest. One day
the US leadership will get serious about ending our use of oil and countries
like Iran,  Iraq  and Saudi Arabia will be both poor and backward again.
Unfortunately,  none of the current presidential contenders have a plan or
even an inclination to end our country's dependence on oil, so those countries
will retain their exaggerated  political importance to us. 

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Horsesoldier       2/7/2008 6:33:41 PM
The Gulf Arab states do spend tons on defense, specifically because of fear of Iran.  Iran is also one reason why they're so willing to play ball with the US.
Admittedly, the threat they pose is less credible than the early Khomeini days and the Iran-Iraq War, when it looked like without massive supplies of arms and money to Saddam Hussein, the Iranians might roll right over him and on into the Arabian peninsula.  But, Iran remains the most plausible threat those nations might face. 
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JHenry-OSIAN    Iran really is a threat, really   2/10/2008 12:10:50 PM
Iran is knee-deep in support for Hezbollah, HAMAS, and were aiding Special Groups in Iraq.  Over the past 10 years, defense spending in the Gulf region has skyrocketed making it the #1 market in the world.  Check out the IDEX show in Dubai and you'll see it all.
What I find interesting is that Iran has put the order in to buy Su-35s from Russia with the matching tanker aircraft.  (Tanker aircraft imply long-range strike, not area defense.)  Rolling out these prototype aircraft is just an attempt to intimidate the neighbors across the Straits.  If they attempt to take these things to full production, then they might look at a "swarm" tactic much like their speedboat program.  Send out alot of small, cheap craft, have them take one shot, then run away.
I heard the translation for the name of the aircraft from Farsi comes out to something like "Raptor Chow"...
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SOP919F3       2/11/2008 1:47:23 PM
The Iranian Navy is putting in place a multi-layered framework comprised of conventional and asymmetrical subsurface, surface, and airborne systems which can impact open access to Arabian Gulf shipping lanes. In 1993, Iran bought two Russian Kilo-class submarines and eight mini-submarines from North Korea.

Yep, no threat there...

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