The USG Open Source Center translates an Iranian newspaper article on the combat capabilities of Iranian military forces.
‘Article Examines Combat Capabilities of Iranian Military Forces
Article by Ali Ghafuri: “A Glance at the Combat Capabilities of the Iranian Army,” page 15
Iran (Internet Version-WWW)
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Document Type: OSC Translated Text
A Powerful Army, Messenger of Peace and Lasting Security
Hazrat-e Ali (peace be upon him): If you want peace, always be prepared for war.
This article does not use classified subjects; it relies mostly on domestic and foreign analyses and military policies.
World atmosphere in the 21st Century is being formed by the logic of force and the military capabilities of countries much more than it was in the middle years of the 20th Century. Unfortunately under such conditions it is only a country’s defensive and offensive power that can prevent the aggression of greedy enemies on its soil. Iran is not an exception to this rule. A country with such a political, geographic, and economic position as Iran is now more than ever the target of attention of the big powers, especially the US. There is no other way to deter the enemies from attacking us except to increase our defensive capabilities side by side with active diplomacy. The article that you will read below is written on the occasion of the week of sacred defense. It is written about Iran’s military power, and the goal is to inform readers about parts of the country’s defensive capabilities. The Biggest Military Power in the Region
Iran’s military is one of the three main pillars of the country’s defensive power that must, along with the Basij (paramilitary force) and the Guards Corps (Islamic Republic Revolutionary Guards Corps, IRGC), defend 1,648,000 square kilometers of the vast Iranian territory in a region that has not seen peace and quiet in the past 3,000 years. Military officials believe Iran’s military, with the largest ground force in western Asia, largest armored units, strongest artillery, and largest number of motorized units, has the strongest fighting force in the Middle East.
This becomes even more important when this large military along with the Basij and the Guards is being run with a small military budget that is one-third of Saudi Arabia’s and half of the Zionist regime’s military budgets. The head of Iran’s armed forces said last year that Iran’s per capita defense spending was $106, while this number was $154 for Turkey, $280 for Syria, about $1,000 dollars for Saudi Arabia, and $726 for Oman. Right now Iran’s military has all the characteristics of an ultra-regional power. According to all experts, right now Iran’s military is much stronger than 1357 (1979) (the year that foreign military attaches left Iran and the Islamic revolution occurred) and at the end of the (Iran-Iraq) war in 1367 (1989).
Two long mountain ranges, Zagros from the northwest to the south and Alborz from the north to the northeast, along with two vast eastern deserts, numerous hills, and small and large rivers have made Iran’s military geography such that Iran’s ground forces and its special air units and helicopters are able to dispel any plans of ground aggression by the enemy. Iran’s geography as compared to countries such as Iraq is like an unpaved road as compared to a six-lane highway.
For thousands of years up until the last failed aggression by Iraq (1981-1988), Iranians have consistently shown that they have stopped all attacks from the west and northwest easily, including 700 years of the Roman Empire defeats and 500 years of the Ottoman defeats. Iranian Military’s Ground Forces
The backbone of Iran’s military in past years has been its ground forces. As a professional unit, side by side with the Guards and Basij, Iran’s ground forces have completed the country’s defense circle since 1981. We should not forget that war is a multi-dimensional phenomenon. In the same way that war needs ships, airplanes, jets, and other weapons, it needs men who are the war’s steadfast feet; men who will define a different life for themselves on the war front even if it takes years. This is exactly what happened with the men in the ground forces (during the Iran-Iraq war) where, in some cases, they were present at the war front for more than eight months at a time.
The Islamic Republic’s ground forces are definitely more ready now than they were in 1981 when they defended against Iraq’s 12 divisions with only two infantry divisions in the west and south. Iran’s infantry now has tens of experienced divisions with strong commando units and special forces. Some of these units have had at least four decades of experience. Iran’s army also uses advanced tanks (built by domestic industries) along with rebuilt Chieftain tanks. Even though the number of Iran’s tanks has not been declared, foreign experts and the media have estimated them to number between 3,000 and 5,000. But this number is not definite considering that Iran makes its own tanks, and naturally the numbers stay secret. Of course there is no doubt that Iran has more tanks than any other power west of Asia, even Turkey and Israel. The characteristic of Iranian tanks is their extensive refurbishing after the eight-year war because most of the armies in the world suffer from the age of their armored vehicles. The other quality of Iran’s infantry is its capacity for movement. At the Velayat and Zolfaqar maneuvers, domestic and foreign experts witnessed the quick deployment of hundreds of thousands of soldiers and thousands of tanks and personnel carriers over long distances. Infantry’s Air Commando Force
Iran’s special geographic condition requires a strong air commando force. The capabilities of Iran’s helicopter fleet have improved since the decade of the (19) 40s (1960s), and in 1357 (1979) Iran had a large number of Cobra 212, 214, 206, and 205 helicopters. In the first weeks of the war when the Basij, the Guards, and the army’s infantry divisions had not yet organized, this force, with its helicopters and of course the martyrdom of many of its personnel, was able to damage Iraq’s armored forces and slow them down.
Today with the help of the technical support of defense industries and its own experts, Iran’s air commando force has successfully rebuilt itself. Through reverse engineering, it has been able to build new helicopters and most of the missiles and rockets for its helicopters. In an interview that this writer had with the commander of the air force three years ago, he said the capability today of Iran’s air commando force is much better than (13) 57 (1979) both in quality and quantity. Iran’s Air Force
Even though many foreign experts and even domestic experts think with the US and Europe not helping Iran’s air force since 1357 (1979) and the destruction of 70 percent of Iran’s fighter jets in the war between 1359 and 1367 (1981-1988), Iran’s air force has diminished as an effective force. But the reality is something else. Iran has not forgotten its air force since (13) 67 (1988) because it knows it was the air force that destroyed Iraq’s air force (Iraq’s air force was rebuilt at least three times during the war) and prevented the bloody attacks of Iraq’s armored units. Up until Iranian pilots had jets to fly, they made the atmosphere insecure for the aggressors.
Today the air force, side by side with the Guards’ air force, has created a significant attack power. Many experts outside Iran have studied the capabilities of Iran’s air force in the past few years and have even considered it a threat to US naval forces in the region. They criticized the US government for scrapping their F-14s from their navy so that Lockheed can sell hundreds of F-18s to this force. They said Iran is the only country in the world that still has F-14s and can be a very serious threat for foreign naval powers. Some critics have even said scrapping the F-14s by the navy was treason to get the percentages from the sale of F-18s. They believe Iran in recent years has used its remaining F-14s from the war and, with the help of the Russians, has created the most powerful interceptors in the region. It can intercept all US jets, such as the F-16, F-18, and F-15, from a distance of 240 kilometers, and, when they cannot even see these powerful jets (the F-18 is able to intercept its target from a distance of 90 kilometers), they can destroy US fighter jets. With support from these jet bombers, attack boats and other Iranian forces can destroy US ships. It seems as if these critics are not exaggerating either because, when American military attaches left Iran in 1357 (1979), Iran was able to use its F-14s on its own and destroy 80 to 100 Iraqi planes with Phoenix missiles. Now Iran has been able to build Phoenix and Sparrow missiles through reverse engineering.
According to Western estimates at the present time, Iran’s air force has a considerable number of jets mostly with the army’s air force (exact numbers have to be announced by officials). Israeli intelligence and Western sources claim that Iran has the Mirage F, MIG 1, Sokhoy 23, and Toplov 22. Of course the air force in recent years has rebuilt and refurbished F-4s and F-14s and has purchased the MIG 29 ∧ Sokhoy 24 and thus considerably increased its power. It is able to use more than 10 bases in defending Iran’s territorial boundaries.
The power of Iran’s air force has increased in recent years to the extent that a while back two Western analysts named Dowlin and Cooper warned the US military about ignoring it. But what should not be forgotten is the value of men and air force pilots who have kept this force on its feet with empty hands and with a budget considerably less than the years of the Shah’s rule. We should not forget that in the previous regime billions of dollars were spent on the air force annually and the Shah paid $25 billion to purchase 80 F-14s. In that year each Phoenix missile cost $2 million (the value of the US dollar today is at least one-third what it was in the beginning of the 1970s). Iran’s Navy
In the North Sea (Caspian Sea), Persian Gulf, and Oman Sea, the biggest military ships are still from the Islamic Republic of Iran’s navy. Some of these vessels are big and well equipped and are able to prove Iran’s superiority in these waters. Presently, the army’s naval force side by side with Sepah’s (Revolutionary Guard) naval force have created a powerful defensive-offensive force using warships, heavy destroyers, small boats, and speed boats.
Iran’s Tareq submarines and the smaller Qadir and Nahang submarines are able to target the enemy’s big surface ships and prevent several-thousand-ton enemy ships from using their artillery or fighter jets. The Tareq submarine has special power; it can destroy an aggressor ship with its capacity to carry 18 torpedoes.
With its defense industries, Iran’s navy can increase its submarines based on its defensive needs. Iran’s navy also has tens of warships. Iran has planned in its naval doctrine to move a complete army division with its naval force. This becomes important when we see that our enemies have continuously aimed at aggression against the Iranian islands in the Persian Gulf.
Iran’s navy also has well-trained naval commando units that can be deployed to the war front with hovercrafts (the fastest water-land transport). In its battle experience, the army’s naval force eliminated Iraq’s navy in the Persian Gulf in a matter of three months (Mehr to Azar 59) (September to November 1981). A Glance at the Capabilities of the Army in the Country’s Recent Big Maneuvers The Zolfaqar Maneuver
With the great Zolfaqar maneuver last year, the military displayed its power in the air and on the sea and land. On the sea, it displayed its naval power in an area of 250,000 square kilometers from the most eastern point (Gwater Gulf in western Pakistan to Khorramshahr in the western part of the Persian Gulf) with its ships, helicopters, and submarines.
On land, the ground forces redeployed 120,000 people in one day. This means the redeployment of seven to eight army divisions in one day (90 percent of the armies in the region do not even have five army units). Sixteen provinces of the country were covered in these maneuvers, and, for the first time, Iranian soldiers used bullets that pierced bulletproof vests.
For the first time the air force used Saeqeh (thunderbolt) fighter jets made in Iran. This fighter jet, which is similar to the F-5 (a little larger with two vertical rudders similar to the F-18), along with hundreds of F-14s, MIG 29s, F-7s, F-4s, and F-5s, displayed Iran’s fighting power. The Great Prophet Maneuver
The Great Prophet maneuver last year was another demonstration to the world of Iran’s fighting power. At these operations, conducted with the joint cooperation of the army, the Sepah, and the Basij, Iran demonstrated its power on the sea and land and in the air. Observers believe none of the powers in the Middle East are able to operate so many forces in one maneuver. The Hoot, Misaq, Kowsar, and Fajr missiles in these operations worried the aggressors in the region, especially missiles that are able to destroy any ship with speeds of up to 100 meters per second. Demonstrating the naval capabilities of the army and the Sepah, this maneuver was conducted 40 kilometers from Iran’s shores in an area of 100,000 sea miles.
Thousands of commandos and parachutists descended on designated bridges in a short time under heavy aerial and naval fire, while movements of Saeqeh fighter jets with their powerful engines and high maneuverability proved that Iran is able to build fighter jets. A Glance at Some Newly Built Weapons in Iran Toofan 1 and 2 Anti-Armor Missiles
: These missiles, which are used against tanks with heavy armor, can guarantee a 92-percent success rate in hitting their target. In two stages, they penetrate the tank and set it on fire. This missile is similar to the American TOW missile and can penetrate the tank up to 76 centimeters. Thus it is able to destroy an 80-ton American M-1 tank like an egg shell. Toofan 2s are presently used extensively on the military’s combat carriers. Kowthar-2 Naval Missiles
: The Kowthar is a smart missile similar to the American cruise missile and can be launched from land or sea toward the target. The military has these missiles, and China has similar ones called the FL-8. Noor-3 Anti-Ship Missiles
: These missiles, which are more advanced than Chinese Silkworm missiles, have a destructive power similar to the Western Harpoon and Exhaust missiles. At the Zolfaqar maneuvers, this missile was launched from an Alvand ship (army’s naval force). The range of this missile has been increased to 120 kilometers. Its special characteristic is its continuous change of altitude in such a way that, to escape the enemy’s defensive net, it stays at 5 meters below water level at the last moment of impact and only explodes after it penetrates deep into the ship. The Sepah also uses this missile along with the military. Ra’d-4 Anti-Ship Missiles
: Westerners think these missiles are extremely dangerous because their high speed takes away any movement from enemy ships. These 8-meter missiles have a range of 200 kilometers, and the warhead weighs half a ton. Conclusion
Iran’s military is a lot like Iran’s people. Both are unassuming and do not want war, but, if it becomes necessary, they will put aside their peace loving spirit and defend their country’s territory; something they have done for the past 26 centuries. Iran’s military has only appeared in its maneuvers in recent years and has always tried to act within the framework of a strong defender of Iran. This power has shown its capabilities in the past 15 years in different maneuvers in both classical warfare and asymmetrical warfare. Undoubtedly its greatness can be the greatest assurance for the citizens of our dear country. It is a great army side by side with Sepah and Basij creating Iran’s defensive power to the level that the thought of aggression, even by the number-one military power in the world, will remain only a wish. Maybe it is the existence of such a force that our enemy’s threats are only attacks from afar with missiles or bombing from high altitudes. Western and Russian military experts have been warning the US for years that moving forces inside Iran’s plateau means opening the gates of hell to US soldiers. ‘
(Description of Source: Tehran Iran (Internet Version-WWW) in Persian — Pro-reform morning daily published by the Islamic Republic News Agency)