Tuesday, September 22, 2015

UAV Update - A Look Inside the Mohajer-4's GCS

This past August, the governor of Ilam met with a team from the Artesh to examine whether or not UAVs could be used to help fight the wildfires blazing across the mountainous province in western Iran. As part of this process, the team conducted a demonstration flight.

This event was captured by photographers from IRNA who have published some of the most comprehensive images of the system's support equipment seen thusfar.

The full gallery is available here.
The article describing the evaluation is available here.

The UAV in question was a recent-generation Mohajer-4, which can be distinguished from earlier examples by its streamlined fuselage. It is likely operated by the Army's Ground Forces, though the Air Force is a plausible alternative. One crew-member wore an unrecognizable patch on the front of his jumpsuit.

This example bears the serial "P062A-36". This is consistent with the only other documented serial of this type - P062A-007 - which was found on an airframe downed by ISIS over eastern Syria in January 2015. Both of these are also consistent with the pattern among other M4s, where the first string of text identifies the model (A041 on previous-generation M4s) and the second string identifies the unique air-frame. This suggests there are at least 36 new-generation airframes.

The setup is operated by a crew of between five and seven. This includes two operators, a mission commander, and a launch section. System components include a towed launch rail for rocket-assisted-takeoff, a flatbed truck, a crane truck, a light van, a generator, and a containerized GCS. It is expected that a transport/storage/maintenance container is also part of a typical deployment, though it was absent in this photo-set.

Part of the photo-set's value is the high quality shots of the interior GCS and its operator controls. Three consoles line the container, facing the cab. The payload operator sits to the right, controlling the camera and the directional tracking antenna fitted to the roof used for real time media transfer. The center console displays flight control software used for automatic route planning. The software used here is a US-made COTS product named "FliteMap" marketed to civilian aviators. The left console displays engine information and other telemetry data.

Monday, September 14, 2015

[Archive] UAVs Over Syria

This post first appeared on the website OSIMINT on January 8, 2014.
It is preserved here as an archive. Some brief edits have been made for clarity and grammar.


Before the demands of war led to the use of rotary and fixed-wing attack aircraft, pro-Assad forces in Syria used lightweight UAVs for aerial surveillance. Since they were first documented over Homs in February 2012, footage of Iranian built AB-3 tactical UAVs have increasingly appeared in open-source reporting. Since the Summer of 2013 AB-3s have been joined by smaller Yasir UAVs, also built by Iran. Insurgents downed their first UAV in May 2013 and have brought down at least eight more since.

Open-source reporting indicates that the majority of UAVs have been deployed to Damascus. 80% of all AB-3 sightings took place over the capital. This likely reflects both the importance of the capital, and the project's evidence bias. There's no way to know whether or not aerial activity over Damascus is more likely to be recorded than elsewhere around the country (for example, due to the greater population density).

In Damascus itself, the AB-3 sightings are - unsurprisingly - concentrated on the city's peripheral suburbs, which have been the focus of insurgent activity around the capital. 13 sightings have been reported over West Ghouta, while 26 have been reported over East Ghouta.

There is some difficulty in positively identifying the specific district in question. For one, each district is small enough that any flight would inevitably cross a broad swath of territory. Thus, trying to pinpoint just one district is somewhat meaningless.

Like the pattern of geographic deployment, the distribution of sightings over time is simlarly asymmetric. Through all of 2012, only four AB-3s were spotted over Damascus, and all but one of these were spotted in the last two months of the ear. This number skyrocketed in 2013. Between January and April, Damascus averaged two sightings/month, but in May this number jumped to 15. This declined to an average of just under three sightings/month between June and August, and 1.25 per month between September and December (though this number jumps to 1.75 if the two Yasirs sighted during this time are included in the tally).

As one last remark it is worth mentioning that these maps are a work in progress. It is unlikely that every incident has been documented, and some of those that have may be misidentified. Thus, the author invites readers to submit any corrections they feel may enhance the accuracy of these maps.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Mohajer UAV

- Development
- Technical Assessment
- Use
- Recognition Features
- Development
- Technical Assessment and Specifications
- Variants
- Use
- Recognition Features
- Development
- Technical Assessment and Specifications
- Use
- Recognition Features
- Development
- Technical Assessment and Specifications
- Variants
- Use
- Recognition Features
Appendix: Documented Airframes and Serials
Footnotes/ Works-Cited


The Mohajer family encompasses a range of tactical surveillance UAVs, and are among the most well known and mature Iranian designs. Developed during the height of the Iran-Iraq war by the Qods Aviation Industry Company, they continue to be used by various branches of the Iranian military. Though not as widespread in foreign service as the Ababil, they have increasingly been seen over Iraq and Syria.

The Mohajer's name is often translated as immigrant or emmigrant, but is likely intended to specifically invoke the Arabic muhajirun and muhajir, which – respectively – refer to Mohammed's original 'emmigration' to Mecca, and those that have made the pilgrimage since.

Mohajer-1 (M1):

Fielded under wartime pressures, the Mohajer-1 was a relatively unsophisticated design. Although it had only a minor impact on the overall course of the Iran-Iraq War, the tactical experience helped lay the institutional foundations for Iran's development and use of unmanned aircraft over the following decades.

The Mohajer-1 was developed following the IRGC's first forays into unmanned reconnaissance in the early-1980s. By 1985, the Qods Industries was formed as a wing of the IRGC's self-sufficiency department and tasked with supplying the nascent Raad Brigade. The M1 was developed sometime that same year.

Technical Assessment:
(Soureh Cinema)
An impediment to assessing the M1 is the lack of documentation. Much of the imagery purporting to show wartime M1s are from “Mohajer”, a movie released in 1990. 1 2 However, given the government's role in making war movies, it is a reasonable assumption that the portrayal is fairly accurate.

Physically, the Mohajer-1 is characterized by a narrow cylindrical fuselage, twin-boom tails, and straight wings high and to the rear of the fuselage. It is similar in size to the RQ-7. For flight control, the M1 is fitted with an elevator on the horizontal stabilizer to control pitch, rudders on the vertical stabilizers to control yaw, and ailerons on the wings to control roll.

A tricycle landing gear is employed for launch and recovery. A parachute can also be used for recovery.

(Soureh Cinema)
For surveillance, the M1 is fitted with a single oblique camera in the nose. Based on other Iranian UAVs from this period, it is likely that this was a still camera, whose film was processed after recovery. One source indicates that it could transfer real-time imagery, though this is questionable. 3

The Mohajer-1 could also be armed and the 1990 movie shows it fitted with 3-round RPG launchers under each wing.

The M1 is controlled via hobby-class radio-control (under 100 mhz). 4

During the Iran-Iraq War, the IRGC's Raad Brigade operated an unknown number over the southern front. Although the they first used UAVs during Operation Kheibar (Feb/March 1984), and Badr (March 1985), the Mohajer in particular is first associated with Operation Valfajr-8 (Feb 1986), and Karbala-5 (Jan/Feb 1987). 5 They were used to prepare for these offensives by photographing Iraqi positions. 6 They were also reportedly used for artillery correction, but it is unclear if this took place in real time, or were used for assessment after the fact.

In the 1990 movie, two teams of personnel are shown: a rear-area launch section, and a forward control section. The need to forward deploy the operators was the result of the radio-control, which limited signal power and precluded data transfer. This, in turn, meant that the M1 could only be used over the front line, and lacked the ability to reconnoiter in depth.

There are reports of Iraqi forces jamming Iranian UAVs by using their HF/VHF/UHF radios, which would have operated in a similar frequency. 7

There are no reports of how effective the M1's armament was. However, given the manual line of sight control, it is unlikely to have been too accurate. This is one area where the movie takes artistic license, purporting to show real time targeting via the on-board camera. In addition, some report that this armament was tested as an anti-shipping weapon in the Gulf. 8
Spotting artillery impacts during Karbala-5 (UAS Yearbook)

Mohajer-2 (M2):

The Mojajer-2 is representative of the intermediary generation of Iranian UAVs developed during the 90s. In this regard it is largely equivalenent to the Ababil-2, both in generation and in capabilities (e.g. MTOW, endurance). However, unlike the Ababil, the M2 is still routinely used for ISR. Although its capabilities are downright modest compared to the current generation designs, updates promise to keep the M2 relevant.
NEZAJA M2 during Mohammed Rasoolallah Exercises, December 2014 (Jam-e Jam)

1996 parade (Getty)
The Mohajer-2 was developed prior to 1996, when it was documented on parade in Tehran. Then, in 1999, the Qods company announced that they would host a flight demonstration alongside the Mohajer 3 and 4 (though there is no record of said demonstration). 9 The M2 was next documented during the 2005 Kish Airshow. 10 Since then, the M2 and its variants have been documented regularly.

As of the mid-2000s, 253 Mohajers had been produced. Although it is impossible to say how many of these were M2s, it is a reasonable assumption that they comprised the bulk of this number.

In 11/2014, a new generation was unveiled at that year's Kish Airshow, boasting greatly improved performance.

Technical Assessment:
Physically, the Mohajer-2's airframe is an evolution of the Mohajer-1 design. It is characterized by the same cylindrical fuselage, twin-boom tails, and straight wings. Its flight controls are the same, including an elevator on the horizontal stabilizer, rudders on the vertical stabilizers, and ailerons on the wings. Subtle variations in M2s, such as the engine nascalles, indicate slight changes in manufacturing over time.

The use of skids, rather than the M1's tricycle gear, means that the M2 is dependent on pneumatic or rocket assisted launch (usually the former). Recovery is by parachute or conventional landing.

The Mohajer-2 is powered by the 26 hp WAE-342 twin-cylinder piston engine fitted with a pusher prop, which is also used on Iran's AB2 and Saeqeh. However, a handful of examples have atypical exhaust systems, possibly explaining the discontinuity between the 342's known power, and the 25 hp consistently claimed on M2 brochures. Official advertisements claim an operational range of 50 km (100 km ferry range), and an endurance of 1.5 hours.

The M2 is fitted with two stub antenna, one on either wing. These support the higher frequency datalinks that allow for real-time control (under 10 ghz).Like the Ababil family, the lack of OTOH control is unlikely to be a significant problem given its short range. Although exact details are scant, export brochures indicate that it is fitted with control software that allows the Mohajer to be flown in one of three modes: manual, semi-automatic, and automatic.

- Manual: The operator controls all aspects of UAV flight by using the real-time feed from the onboard cameras. This mode relies on high and low bandwidth communication between the UAV and GCS.
- Semi-automatic: The operator determines the UAV's flight path, but does not control the flight itself. This mode relies on the lower bandwidth control and telemetry channels, which have a longer range than the higher frequency channels used for imagery downlinks.
- Automatic: The UAV follows a preset flight path and executes commands using GPS and INS-cued waypoints. This mode does not require any uplink/downlink between the UAV and the GCS.

NEZAJA display, 2009 (Unknown)
Forward-facing and gimbaled cameras
The Mohajer-2 can be fitted with three different optical payloads: a) a gimbaled EO-system for surveillance, b) a fixed downward-facing still camera for aerial surveying, and c) a fixed forward-facing camera in the nose for flight. The gimbaled imager is used for real-time surveillance and is limited to light-weight models by the M2's relatively small payload. In practice, only daylight cameras, such as the IEI's Oghab 11, have been fitted. Early-production M2s lacked the forward-facing camera.

Product brochures also advertise the use of laser line scanners (for wide area aerial surveying), and unspecified electronic-warfare payloads. Neither of these have been documented.

Like the M1, the M2 can also be armed. Documentary footage shows development models fitted with two six-round RPG launchers. However, these have not been documented in service.

Specifications (M2):
Length: 2.91 m
Wingspan: 3.8 m
Weight, Empty: 70 kg
Weight: Payload: 15 kg
Weight, MTOW: 85 kg
Speed, Max: 200 km/h
Ceiling: 3,350 m (11,000 ft)
Range: 50 km
Endurance: 1.5 hours
Powerplant: 25 hp L-275

Specifications (M2N):
Length: 2.90 m
Wingspan: 3.82 m
Weight, MTOW: 90 kg
Speed, Max: 180 km/h
Range: 150 km
Endurance: 6 hours


It is assessed with low to moderate confidence that the Raad-85 is a 'suicide' strike variant of the M2, comparable to the similarly equipped Ababil-2 variant. Its designation may be associated with the NEZAJA in particular.

The first reference to the Raad came in 02/2011 when then-DM Vahidi announced the manufacture of an offensive UAV capable of precision strike. 11 Then, in 10/2011, Mashregh News described the Raad as a variant of the Saeqeh target drone (also produced by the Qods Company). 12 Although there was no reason given for this claim, and at first glance appears to be a product of their own open-source research, this possibility cannot be dismissed. The most significant evidence for the Raad's link to the M2 came during the IRGC's Great Prophet 8 exercises in 02/2013, which showed unnamed M2-based UAV being used in the suicide strike role.
Suicide M2 being prepared for launch during 2013 exercise (IRIB)

Finally, during a delivery ceremony in September 2013, the NEZAJA announced that they were producing the Raad-85 in cooperation with the Qods Company. 13 At the ceremony, both the M2 and Saeqeh were on display, providing no further clarification.

Specifications for the Raad are elusive. In 09/2013, a NEZAJA commander claimed the Raad had a 100 km range (equivalent to the M2). 14 Then, during a later exercise in 12/2014, another commander said that the Raad had a range of 250 km, suggesting a closer relationship to the M2N than the much shorter ranged M2 or Saeqeh. 15 16

The M2N (the 'N' stands for 'new') was unveiled during the 2014 Kish Airshow. Nearly identical to the M2 in outward appearance, it reportedly enjoys a significant increase in performance. This includes a 200% increase in range (from 50 km to 150 km), and a 300% increase in endurance (from 1.5 hours, to 6 hours). It is also reportedly capable of carrying underwing missile launchers. Although this capability has yet to be documented, it could likely carry any armament in a mode similar to the M2 and M4 variants described elsewhere.

It is unclear how the M2N achieves this increased range and endurance. The most likely explanation would be the addition of fuel tanks in the wings combined with weight reductions elsewhere (to explain the modest 5 kg increase in MTOW).

At the Kish Airshow, a poster showed the M2N fitted with wheeled landing gear even though the accompanying model was shown with the traditional skids.

M2N at Kish 2014 (military.ir)

In Iran, the Mohajer-2 is employed by the Army and IRGC for surveillance and attack. However, it is rarely documented in IRGC service – whether on exercise or parade – suggesting the majority are held by the Army. The majority of the Army's M2s have been documented in their ground forces. 17

In NEZAJA service, it is used for both high and low-intensity ISR. For high intensity conflicts, they are organized into or within UAV battalions to provide corps-level reconnaissance. Low intensity service includes routine border surveillance in support of ground operations, much the same way their significant helicopter fleet already operations. They are also used for non-military purposes, such as when the Army is mobilized to perform disaster relief during floods, earthquakes, or snowstorms.

The Raad-85 is expected to enter NEZAJA service in 2015, following its first tests during the Army's 12/2014 exercises. 18 Once it enters service, the Raad will be tasked with long-range strike missions. 19 This positions them alongside the NEZAJA's rocket artillery (e.g. Nazeats and Zelzals), which itself is a national-level force with a similar range (~100-300 km). Additionally, the NEZAJA is the only one of the Army's branches that will operate suicide UAVs, further widening the conceptual gap between the Raad and – for example – the role of the Air Force's PGMs, or the Navy's ASCMs. 20 21

Outside of the army, IRGC-GF was documented using a suicide strike variant during the Great Prophet 8 exercises in 02/2013.

Exports and Foreign Use:
Outside of Iran, the Mohajer-2 is operated by the Venezuelan Air Force, where they are known by their local name 'Arpia' (Harpy). They are assigned to the 83rd UAV Squadron, which is part of the 8th ISR Aviation Group based out of the El Libertador Airbase in Maracay. 22

Venezuela's acquisition of M2s began in 2007 when they inked an agreement with Iran that included UAV production. By 2009, the state-owned company CAVIM began assembling them from knock-down kits ships from Iran. 23 They were first unveiled to the public in 06/2012. 24 By 06/2013, CAVIM claimed to have produced 15 of them. 25 Three have reportedly crashed, leaving about a dozen in service. 26 In addition, an unknown number were delivered to a state-owned oil company – PDVSA – for pipeline inspections. 27
A Venezuelan Arpia up close (FAV Club)

Beyond Venezuela, there are some reports of the Mohajer-2 being sighted over Syria. However, the available imagery is inconclusive, and the M2 cannot be positively identified.

Recognition Features:

Mohajer-3 (M3) (Dorna):

The Mohajer-3 was announced alongside the the Mohajer-2 and 4 in 1999, presumably developed during the mid-90s. 28. It was supposedly designed as the initial attempt to extend the endurance of the M2. 29 It has not entered production, and was soon superseded by the Mohajer-4

The M3 is sometimes refered to as the 'Dorna', a reference to the crane bird.|

Technical Assessment:
The Mohajer-3 is a significant evolution of the Mohajer-2, and is characterized by its larger, squarish fuselage, and a redesigned tail section.

Speed, Cruise: 180 km/h
Range: 100 km
Endurance: 2-3 hours

There is no known operational employment of the Mohajer-3.

Recognition Features:

Mohajer-4 (M4) (Hodhod / Shahin)

The Mohajer-4 was first referenced in 1999, when it was discussed alongside the M2 and M3. 30 It was documented photographically by at least 2003, possibly earlier. By the mid-2000s, more than 34 M4s had been produced (19 in ~2005, and 15 in ~2006), out of a total of 253 Mohajer-1/2/3/4s around the same time. 31

A new generation of M4 was unveiled in 09/2014, but has yet to supplant the current generation. 32

The M4 is sometimes referred to as the Hodhod, or Shahin. 'Hodhod' is a reference to the crested Hoopoe bird, which resides across Asia, Europe, and Africa, and is present in Persian mythology. 'Shahin' is a translation of 'falcon'. These designations are discussed further below.

Technical Assessment:
The Mohajer-4 continues the evolutionary path of the M2 and M3. Its larger size and aerodynamic refinements reflect its guiding design consideration: increased range and endurance.

Physically, the M4 is characterized by a) its square fuselage, and b) wings with a tapered trailing edge, canted wingtip, and a prominent fairing where they join the lower fuselage. Control surfaces are the same and include an elevator on the horizontal stabilizer, rudders on the vertical stabilizers, and ailerons on the wings.

Although a handful of early examples are powered by different engines, the Mohajer-4 is now uniformly equipped with the 50 hp Limbach L550 four-cylinder two-stroke engine fitted with a pusher prop. The examples equipped with different engines are typically painted in bright colors and lack markings, suggesting they are prototypes belonging to the Qods Company. The first of these is powered by an unknown 4-cylinder engine fitted with a carburetor superficially similar to that on the WAE-342. The second is fitted with the 38 hp AR-741 rotary engine. The reasoning behind choosing the L550 is opaque and may be due to specific circumstances such as availability. 33 One can speculate that the L550 – despite weighing more, and burning fuel at twice the rate of the 741 – was chosen foremost for its power, which would allow it to carry more fuel.

The Mohajer-4 is fitted with two antenna, typically arrayed on top of the avionics bay. Although the specifics of the system are unknown, it uses the same three modes found on the M2, which are described above. 34 Since the M4 enjoys a larger payload-capacity, and has more onboard power, it is a reasonable assumption that its functional control range is greater.

The M4 can be fitted with three different optical payloads: a) a fixed forward-facing camera in the nose for navigation, b) a gimbaled EO-system for surveillance, or c) a fixed downward-facing still camera for aerial surveying. The current-generation M4 can carry either the gimbal or survey camera, but not both. In practice, only daylight cameras have been documented in use. However, the next M4 generation (described below) can carry both types simultaneously, and has been shown fitted with a multi-channel imager. Even if these imagers were fielded immediately, their relative simplicity and lateness in arriving contrasts to the wide use of more sophisticated payloads in the similarly-sized AB3.

In 2014, the MoD revealed that the M4 could be equipped for air-defense with two QW-1 MANPADS. Lacking a dedicated system, these QW-1s would function much as they would on the ground. The operator would aline the tube with the target using onboard cameras, relying on the missile's own IR-seekers to acquire the target. Although its easy to see where this could be useful – for example, against a lone helicopter presenting itself as a target of opportunity – this system has not turned the Mohajer into a dedicated interceptor by any means.

Specifications (Mohajer-4*): 35
Length: 3.64 m
Wingspan: 5.30 m
Weight, MTOW: 175 kg
Max Speed: 180 km/h
Endurance: 3-5 hours
Ceiling: 4,500 m
Range: 150 km

* Unknown powerplant fitted to associated model.

Specifications (Hodhod A/100*): 36
Length: 3.74 m
Wingspan: 5.3X m (where x=2, 3, or 4)
Weight, MTOW: 210 kg
Speed: 200 km/h
Endurance: 3 hours
Ceiling: 4,500 m
Range: 150 km

* Shown fitted with rotary engine. See description below.


Hodhod A/1 [A/100]:
It is unclear whether the 'Hodhod' designation applies to a specific variant with unique characteristics, or something else. One plausible explanation is that it is name used by the IRGC, while another plausible explanation is that it is an M4-variant with slightly different physical specifications.

Two specific cases have been documented:

First, in 09/2010, the designation was applied to a display model fitted with with the AR-741 engine, and painted in a bright red and white paint scheme. The accompanying placard produced by the IRGC included unique specifications that differed from those usually attributed to the M4. Specifically, it claimed that the Hodhod is slightly longer than the M4, has a slightly wider wingspan, has a larger MTOW, and possibly a shorter endurance. Because these differences are inconsistent with the use of the AR-741 in place of the more powerful L550, it is a reasonable working assumption that the 'Hodhod' designation does not refer to a variant powered by this engine. 37

Second, during a parade in 09/2010, it was applied to two M4s operated by the IRGC. These two were identical to other M4s except for a unique serial format, and – possibly – a new payload bay under the fuselage. Unlike the first case, they were fitted with the L550 and lacked the 'A/1' or 'A/100' suffix in their designation.

Like the Hodhod, it is unclear whether the 'Shahin' designation refers to a specific variant, or is a service-specific designation.

The designation was first applied to a NEZAJA M4 on parade in 09/2010. By 10/2013, media sources were referring to it as a specific M4 variant, and suggesting – albeit, ambiguously – that it was NEZAJA-specific. 38 This source also noted that the Shahin's MTOW was 230 kg, higher than most descriptions of the M4's MTOW.

However, this claim is difficult to assess because the media may have based this claim entirely on the 09/2010 imagery, potentially creating a circle of erroneous confirmation based on trust in 'official' sources like Fars and Mashregh News. This is exacerbated by the tendency of most major agencies to copy and paste whole sections from preexisting articles. For example, sections from the 10/2013 article were reproduced in reports ostensibly talking about the Shahin's participation in a 12/2014 exercise, creating the illusion of independent confirmation. 39

Sadiq / Mohajer-4B:
The Sadiq – or Mohajer-4B 40 – is a significant evolution of the M4 platform that was unveiled during a defense industries exhibition in 08/2014. No performance information is available.

There is some uncertainty over its designation because they were unveiled alongside two related MoD projects (aerial-survey and air-defense payloads). However, given the payload's parallel use on current generation M4s, it is a reasonable assumption that the M4B is a stand-alone development. It is possible that the 'Sadiq' designation may refer to any M4 equipped with the specific aerial-survey payload.

Physically, the Mohajer-4B can be recognized by:
- New landing skids
- Wings mounted midway on the fuselage; canted wingtips removed; wider span possible.
- Fuselage reshaped for better nose aerodynamics, and improved engine cooling. 41
- Expanded payload bays can now carry gimbaled and downward-facing cameras at the same time.
- Undetermined payload may be associated with new housing on the bottom fuselage.

In Iran, the M4 is employed by the Army and the IRGC for high and low intensity ISR. They are known as the Shahin in the Army's Ground Forces, and appear to be organized similarly to the M2. 42 The Ground Forces have used M4s since at least 2010 and took delivery of a significant number in Fall 2013, emphasizing their use in border security. In November 2014, one of the M4s documented earlier on parade (SN: A041-112) was downed by the Islamic State during a surveillance flight over Diyala, Iraq. Notably, this particular UAV included a tail-boom from a different kit (SN: A041-66), which itself was documented during the 2013 delivery as part of another mixed kit, illustrating the modular nature of the M4's components.

Although they have not been confirmed in use by the IRIAF, IRIN, or IRIADF, an M4 was shown in the Persian Gulf during 2010's Velayat-89 exercise, which is typically associated with the Army's air and naval forces.

They are also used for maritime surveillance by the IRGC, who have published videos of their M4s documenting the transit of international warships through the Strait of Hormuz. Among other uses, the IRGC also employs them for internal security in places like Sistan & Baluchistan alongside the force's own Shahed UAVs.

Exports and Foreign Use:

Outside of Iran they have been documented in use over Iraq and Syria, though it is not always clear who is operating them. A handful have been reported in flight over Syria since 2012, but these may be misattributed AB3s, which are far more common. However, an M4B was shot down over Deir az-Zohr in January 2015 and recovered.

In Iraq, in addition to the Ground Force's M4 described above, at least two more M4s have been lost in action. The first of these was recovered near the city of Samarra in July 2014, and the second was recovered near Kirkuk in January 2015. In the second case, the M4 bore no identifying markings, but in the first case carried several Iraqi flag decals.

Recognition Features:

Appendix: Documented Airframes and Serials:

MX2-009 (IRGC, Great Prophet 8)


A041-44 (09/2011)
A041-63 (04/2009)
A041-65 (09/2013) (NEZAJA)
A041-66 (09/2013) (NEZAJA)
A041-67 (unknown)
A041-80 (2010)
A041-81(?) (04/2010)
A041-90 (12/2014) (NEZASA)
A041-92 (09/2013) (NEZAJA)
A041-108 (09/2013) (NEZAJA)
A041-111 (09/2013) (NEZAJA)
A041-112 (09/2010, 11/2014) (NEZAJA)

120 (07/2014) (Iraq)

A041-A/B119 (08/2014) (unknown)
A041-A/B201 (01/2015) (Iraq/unknown)

TUAV-M4B-08 (SDW 2010)

P062A-007 (M4B) (Syria/unknown)

Footnotes / Works Cited

1) There is a handful of imagery, which shows an M1 being recovered by parachute, that appears to be genuine.
2) Image gallery and additional information about the movie available at Soureh Cinema and War is Boring
3) Past and Current UAS Activities in Iran. UAS Yearbook 2009.
4) ibid UAS Yearbook, 2009
5) A Look at the Role of the Mohajer and Tallash in Karbala-5 and Valfajr-8. Mashregh News. 10/11/2011
6) Iran-Iraq War in the Air 1980-1988. Tom Cooper and Farzad Bishop. Schiffer Military History. 2000. p.196, 235
7) The original source for this claim has since been lost, and may only be apocryphal.
8) Cooper and Bishop, 2000. p.196
9) Iran Exhibits Advanced Aircraft and Drones. IRIB. 07/19/1999.

    Summary archived at: Iran Missile Chronology. NTI. 08/2011.
10) It is very likely that the M2 appeared in earlier exhibitions, including Kish 2002, but the lack of currently available imagery from these events makes it impossible to confirm at this point.
11) DM: Raad and Nazir are two aircraft with offensive power and maneuverability … [unclear] ISNA. 02/08/2011
12) Saeqeh and Toofan for the Enemies; Sofreh Mahi for Future Generations. Mashregh News. 10/19/2011
13) Production of the Raad-85 Suicide UAV in the Army Ground Forces. YJC. 09/28/2013.
14) Commander: Iranian Ground Force's Drones Make 150 Flights in 1 Year. FNA. 09/28/2013
15) Targeting at 250 km with Suicide UAVs. AJA. 12/2014.
16) It is assumed that two different practices are used when describing the respective ranges of reconnaissance and suicide UAVs. The 250 km one-way range of Raad is close to the M2N's 300 km one-way range, allowing for extra payload weight.
17) It is possible that this documentation is only a reflection of circumstances, and do not reflect the actual distribution of equipment.
18) Suicide UAVs Used for the First Time in the Mohammed Rasoolallah Exercise. AJA. Date Unknown, 12/2012 suspected.
19) NEZAJA's UAV Group's Fleets Ready to Enter Asymmetric Battle Space. AJA. Date unknown, Fall 2013 suspected.
20) Using Suicide UAVs in the Army's Exercise. IRDiplomacy. 12/25/2014
21) Suicide with the Yasir; the NEZAJA's [RQ-7 Shadow]. Tasnim News. 01/06/2015
22) http://www.fav-club.com/qods-aeronautics-industries-mohajer-2-cavim-sant-arpia/
23) A handful of current and former CAVIM employees with profiles on LinkedIn list work experience relating to the Mohajer beginning in 2009.
24) Venezuela-Iran UAVs. Jeffrey Lewis. Arms Control Wonk. 06/12/2012
25) http://www.fav-club.com/qods-aeronautics-industries-mohajer-2-cavim-sant-arpia/
26) Iranian Mohajer-2 Drone Appears in Venezuela. Chavez's Building His Own Drone Fleet with the Help of Tehran. The Aviationist. 06/12/2012.
27) ibid CAVIM employees' LinkedIn profiles.
28) ibid IRIB, 1999
29) The Mohajer 3 and 4 [Mark] Iran's Entry Into the Major League of UAVs. Mashregh News. 10/10/2011
30) ibid IRIB, 1999
31) Official production data presented during public expo in mid-2000s. Via MATF
32) Mohajer and Misagh; a Combination That Will Break Any Evil Intentions. Mashregh News. 09/23/2014
33) Around the same time period (late-90s/early-00s), the AB2 was advertised with a rotary engine as well, but has only ever been produced with the two-stroke WAE-342. Only more recently has the rotary AR-741 begun to show up as the standard engine in some of the smaller Shahed-series.
34) The Most Famous Iranian UAV Family Documented Again / Mohajers Looking for Air Targets. FNA. 09/23/2014.
35) MATF, SDW 2011
36) Mohammed Hussein, SDW 2010. HT @ AminCo at IMF
37) Although, as a general rule, 2-stroke engines consume less fuel and are offer less power for their size and weight than rotary engines, the L550's greater power (50 hp vs 38 hp) flips these characteristics. This means that one would expect to see this 'Hodhod' (which is fitted with the 38 hp AR-741) have a lower MTOW, and longer endurance.
38) The Heavy Shadow of the “Shahin” on the Borders / Eyes that See Blind Spots. FNA. 10/19/2013.
39) Shahin Flight; Heaviest NEZAJA UAV in the Big Army Exercise. FNA. 12/25/2014
40) The notional designation is based off a) the explicit labeling of this UAV as a “Mohajer-4”, combined with b) the unique characteristics distinguishing it from current-generation M4s. The specific origin of the “-4B” designation is a poster displayed in the mid-2000s showing the progress of various projects being undertaken by the Qods Company. One such project was the Mohajer-4B, whose development was reportedly 95% complete.
41) ibid Mashregh News, 09/23/2014
42) ibid FNA, 10/19/2013

Friday, February 20, 2015

Iran's Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics

Iran's current Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics was created in 1989 by the Rafsanjani government in a bid to streamline and centralize the military's procurement system. In this restructuring, the parallel ministries tasked with wartime logistics – the Ministry of Defense, and the Ministry of the IRGC – were folded into one another, doing away with the worst of the wasteful duplication, and compartmentalization. 1

Today, MODAFL is responsible for providing logistical support to the Armed Forces, and for managing the associated military industries. Specifically, their responsibilities are: 2
- Production and manufacture of new equipment.
- Maintenance of existing equipment.
- Coordination of intra and inter-service research under unified oversight.
- Foreign purchases.

Unlike other defense ministries around the world, the MODAFL is NOT responsible for shaping defense policy. Instead, this authority flows to the IRGC and Army from the Armed Forces General Staff, which is also responsible for directing the MODAFL's research and production.

Organization, MODAFL (click to enlarge)
Personnel, MODAFL (click to enlarge)

Staff / Personnel:
It is reasonable to assume the ministry's staff is organized into a body equivalent to an 'office of the minister of defense', which includes various deputies who direct and coordinate the ministry's subordinate industries.

Minister of Defense:
The ministry is currently headed by BG Hossein Deghan (IRGC), who was appointed in 08/2013 under the Rouhani government. Deghan is often portrayed as a compromise candidate with ties to all major political factions, who was chosen after Rouhani's initial pick – Hossein Alaei (IRGC) 3 – was rejected. 4 This is plausible given his history since 1979, which would have put him into contact with core IRGC personnel, as well as other perennial heavyweights like Shamkhani and Larijani. 5

According to his official biography, he has held command positions since the Revolution, including:

- His time in the field spans spans six years (1980-1986), and includes: commander, Tehran IRGC (1980-1982); commander, IRGC in Lebanon and Syria (1982-1984); commander, IRGC's Sarallah Operations HQ in Tehran (1984-1986).

- His time as a general-staff commander spans spans 10 years (1988-1996), and includes: deputy commander, IRGC-AF (1986-1990); commander, IRGC-AF (1990-1992); deputy head, IRGC-GS (1992-1996).

- His time in management and government positions spans nearly two decades (1996-present), and includes: director, IRGC's Cooperative Foundation (1996-1997); deputy defense minister under Shamkhani (1997-2003); senior advisor to DM Shamkhani (2003-2004); deputy head of the Veterans Affairs Foundation (2004-2009); deputy head and secretary to the Center of Defensive Strategic Studies (2009-2010); head of Expediency Council's Political, Military, and Security Commission (2010), adviser to the Majlis Speaker, Ali Larijani (2010).

Deputy Minister of Defense:
The current deputy minister is BG Amir Hatami (Army), who was appointed in 11/2013 under the Rouhani government. Prior to this, he was the deputy head of AFGS's HQ and Joint-Affairs Department for around two years under MG Mohammed Bagheri (IRGC).6 Prior to this, he served as the AFGS's manpower deputy through at least 2011.7

Deputy, Coordination:
Believed to be equivalent to a chief-of-staff, this position is currently held by BG Nasrallah Ezzati (Army). 8

BG Ezzati has also been described as the MODAFL's manpower deputy. It is unclear if he holds both positions separately, or if there is some other explanation. 9

Deputy, International-Affairs, Communications, and Defense Research:
The identity of the current deputy is unknown, but as of 2012 the position was held by BG2 Nasrallah Kalantai (IRGC). 10 11

When BG Vahidi held the position 2003-2005, it was known as the “deputy for plans and programs, and international affairs”. The significance of the change in nomenclature is unknown. 12

Deputy, Industrial Affairs and Research:
It is unclear who holds this position. Media articles simultaneously give the title to Mohammed Eslami (IRGC). 13 and BG Mehdi Farahi (IRGC). 14 One difference is that Eslami is described as the deputy to the minister, while Farahi is described as the deputy to the ministry.

Before being appointed to his current position in 11/2014, BG Farahi directed the AIO.

Deputy, Legal and Majlis Affairs:
BG2 Reza Tallaei-Nik (IRGC), appointed in 08/2013, holds this position. 15


Defense Industries Organization (DIO / SASAD):
The DIO is responsible for the MODAFL's general industrial production, which includes equipment that doesn't fall under the specialized air and naval industries described below. It is currently directed by BG2 Qasim Taqizadeh (IRGC). 16 17

The organization is composed of six or seven groups*: which in turn are comprised of 30+ distinct 'industries' that reflect further specialization (e.g. the VEIG's 'armor industries'). 18 19

These groups are:
- Armament Industries Group (AIG)* - Produces mortar tubes, recoilless rifles, rocket launchers, guns, and howitzers.
- Ammunition and Metallurgy Industries Group (AMIG) – Produces ammunition for guns and cannons, field artillery, and mortars.
- Chemical Industries Group (CIG) – Produces propellants and explosives.
- Individual Combat Industries Group (ICIG)* - Produces small arms and ammunition
- Rocket Industries Group (RIG) – Produces artillery rockets (107mm-333mm), and RPGs.
- Vehicle and Equipment Industries Group (VEIG) – Produces vehicles including tanks, APCs, trucks, and bulldozers, as well equipment like trailers and fire-control upgrades.
- Special Industries Group (SIG) – Produces miscellaneous equipment such as CBW gear, uniforms, and stoves.

* The ICIG may be associated with the AIG; DIO brochures indicate it's a distinct group, MODAFL brochures lump them together.

Aerospace Industries Organization (AIO):
The AIO is responsible for missile development. It is currently headed by Mehrdad Ekhlaghi, who was appointed to the position in 11/2014, and about whom little is known. 20 21 It's deputy director is BG2 Abdul-Karim Bani-Turuf. 22
Although less is known about the AIO's subsidiaries and their responsibilities, those bodies that can be identified include:
- Samen Alaeme Industries Group – May produce naval weapons, including torpedoes. 23 24 25
- Shahid Bagheri Industries Group (SBIG) – Produces solid-fuel ballistic missiles, including Nazeat and Zelzal. 26 27
- Shahid Hemmet Industries Group (SHIG) – Produces liquid-fuel ballistic missiles. 28 29
- Ya Mahdi Industries Group – Produces guided missiles, such as ATGMs. 30 31
- Shahid Babaie Industries – Associated with SAM development.
- Shahid Ahmad Kazemi Industries Group – Associated with SAM Development. 32
- Shahid Mallati Industries Group 33
- Fajr Industries Group 34
- Sanam Industries Group 35
- Other entities mentioned in one form or another include the Parchin Missile Industries, Shahid Motahari Industries, and the Shahid Shahabadi Industries. 36

Iran Aviation Industries Organization (IAIO):
Responsible for aircraft production and support, the IAIO is currently directed by Manoucher Manteghi. 37 It is also known as the 'AIO', but the acronym 'IAIO' is typically used to distinguish it from the Aerospace Industries Organization.

Subsidiaries include: 38 39
- Iran Aircraft Industries (IACI/SAHA) – Founded and 1970 and based in Tehran, the IACI is responsible for major overhauls of civilian and military aircraft. Also responsible for producing components necessary for repair, including engines.
- Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industry Company (IAMI/HESA) – Founded in 1964, and based in Isfahan, the IAMI is responsible for manufacturing new aircraft.
- Iran Helicopter Support and Renewal Company (IHSRC/PANHA) – Founded in 1969 and based in Tehran, the IHSRC is responsible for major overhauls of civilian and military helicopters.
- Qods Aviation Industry – Founded in 1985 and based in Tehran, the Qods Industries is responsible for much of Iran's UAV production.
- Shahid Basir Research Center

Naval/Marine Industries Organization:
Comparable to the IAIO, the Marine Industries Organization is sometimes incorrectly described as a DIO subsidiary, the 'Marine Industries Group'.

It was founded in 1986 and is responsible for producing small fiberglass patrol boats, submarines, and larger ships such as the Sina missile boat, and the Mowj frigates, as well as a handful of civilian craft like tugboats and ferries.

It is currently directed by BG Amir Rastegari (Army). 40

Iran Electronics Industry Company (IEI / SAIRAN):
Alternately described as a 'company' or an 'organization', the IEI is responsible for producing radios, radars, jammers and other networking systems, as well as periscopes, weapon-sights, and other optics. It's current director is unknown. 41

Subsidiaries include: 42 - Shiraz Electronics Industry (SEI/SA Shiraz)
- Iran Communications Industry (ICI/SAMA)
- Iran Information Systems Company (ISI/IS Iran)
- Iran Electronic Components Industry Company (ECI/SAQA)
- Isfahan Optics Industry Company (IOI/SAPA)
- Iran Electronics Research Center (IERC)

Armed Forces Social Security Organization:
Responsible for an overwhelming – yet typically unseen – share of Iran's overall defense expenditure.

It is currently directed by BG Hossein Daqiqi (IRGC). 43

National Geography Organization (NGO):
Responsible for mapping and surveying, the NGO is currently headed by Mehdi Modri. 44

Energy Resource Development Organization:
Currently directed by Seyyed Majid Hedayat. 45

Cooperation Bonyad:
Although the specific responsibilities of this foundation are unknown, bonyads generally serve as investment vehicles for the associated organization.

It is currently directed by BG/BG2 Said Rafi'ei (Army). 46

Armed Forces Medical Service:
Currently directed by BG2 Najafipour (Army). 47

Malek Ashtar University

1) Military Industries in the Islamic Republic of Iran: An Assessment of the Defense Industries Organization. John Shields. USAF. 05/1996. p.7
2) Shields, 1996. p.8
3) Alaei fell out of favor with other high-level IRGC commanders after he criticized Khamenei's response to the 2009 unrest. He has since recanted, but remains tainted. IRGC Command Network. The IRGC Command Network: Formal Structures and Informal Influence. Will Fulton. AEI. 07/2013. p.19
4) Rouhani's Cautious Pick for Defense Minister. Will Fulton. Al-Monitor. 08/07/2013
5) Dolat.ir
6) Amir Hatemi Became Deputy Defense Minister. YJC. 11/03/2013.
7) All Soldiers in Kermanshah Given Added Service. AJA. 10/20/2011
8)  Basij Press
9) Honorable Youth Are Always Ready to Sacrifice on the Holy Path of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Defa News. 02/16/2015
10) The MoD's Dep't of Communication and Defense Studies Congratulated Fars News on its Anniversary. FNA. 03/09/2011
11) Red Cross to Expand Cooperation with Red Crescent in Iran. Mehr News. 06/27/2012.
12) Gen. Ahmed Vahidi. MoD.
13) Deputy Minister: Thanks to Sanctions, We Have Become Self-Sufficient in the field of Satellites. Tasnim News. 02/05/2015
14) Aerospace Industry is the Nucleus of the Country. IRNA. 02/09/2015
15) Reza Tallaei-Nik Became the MoD Deputy for Legal and Majlis Affairs. IRNA. 09/01/2013.
16) Defa News
17) Defa News
18) ISNA. 04/18/2011
19) The ICIG appears to be a recent creation, perhaps broken off the AIG post-2011.
20) ILNA. 11/12/2014
21) FNA. 11/12/2014 

22) Defa Press. 02/20/2015.
23) Minister of Defense Visits Samen Alaeme Industries Group. Defa News. 08/08/2014
24) FAS.
25) ibid Defa News, 08/08/201

26) Top SBIG Commanders Visit Ayatollah Hashemi. Defa News.11/03/2014
27) Iranian Missile Entity Interest In Purchasing Mercedes Benz Vehicles. Wikileaks. 01/17/2008 
28) The Iranian Revolution is a Pattern for the Islamic Awakening. Defa News. 04/13/2014 
29) Iranian Procurement Entities Non-Paper Delivered At March 1 U.S.-UAE Counterproliferation Task Force. Wikileaks. 04/22/2007.
30) Unknown Aspects of the Imposed War, Such as Science, [To Be] Taught. Defa News. 11/01/2014.

31) ibid Wikileaks, 04/22/2007.
32) UNSCR 1929. IAEA. 06/09/2010.
33) NEZAJA Commanders Visit Shahid Mellati Industries Group. Defa News. 12/14/2014
34) UNSCR 1737. IAEA. 12/27/2006.

35) UNSCR 1747. IAEA. 03/24/2007
36) Iran Watch.

37) Iran's Saeqeh-2 Fighter to be Unveiled Soon. Mehr News. 02/02/2015
38) Subordinate Organizations. Ministry of Defense.
39 Aviation Section. MoD Export Center. 40 PressTV.
41) FNA.
42) Iran Electronics Industry Company. MoD.
43) MoD. 02/09/2015 44 NCC 05/26/2014
45) Defa News. 11/05/2014.
46) IRNA. 07/07/2014.
47) Defa News. 08/04/2014

Monday, January 19, 2015

Army Aviation Airbases

Iran's Army Ground Forces (NEZAJA) includes a substantial rotary-wing aviation component commonly known as the Havanirooz. The hundreds of Bell helicopters purchased during the 70s and the facilities built to operate and maintain them still form the backbone of the service. Today, they are tasked with supporting the NEZAJA's corp-level headquarters with attack and air-transport capabilities (the latter including airborne assault, and logistics).

The Havanirooz falls under the authority of the NEZAJA's central command. (1) However, it is assessed with high confidence that their constituent elements are also operationally subordinate to the NEZAJA's regional headquarters.

The force's current commander is BG2 Houshang Yari, who has held this position since September 2011. (2) Prior to his appointment, he was the force's deputy commander. (3) The staff headquarters is located in Tehran, within the NEZAJA HQ.

Below this, the Havanirooz's staff-level organization is unclear. Unlike the Army's and IRGC's distinct branches, whose staff is relatively predictable (e.g. operations, personnel, etc), very little in the way of open source reporting exists for Army Aviation. The one exception to this is the force's Research and Self-Sufficiency body, which is alternately described as a “department” (4), or an “office” (a level below “department”). (5) At any rate, reporting on this body is scant.

Under the Havanirooz's staff are upwards of nine bases of varying size. The largest of these are sometimes referred to in English reports as combat or support 'groups'. Generally, 'group' is used by the NEZAJA to refer to a brigade-sized combat support unit, such as – for instance – the 33rd Artillery Group. Although this term is almost never used in reference to the Havanirooz today, they are consistently used to describe the same bases during the war, suggesting that the concept of equating each base to an aviation brigade remains sound.

Aviation Bases:

1st Combat Airbase (Kermanshah):
This group is commanded by BG2 Yusef Qorbani, who has held this position since at least June 2010 when he was still a Col. (6) (7) As of December 2012, the base's deputy commander was Ali Heydar Zaraei. (8)

This base is co-located with the Kermanshah Airport.

2nd 'Shahid Asayee' Combat Airbase (Masjed-e Suleiman):
This group is commanded by Col. Heshmataollah Azadifar, who was appointed in November 2014. (9) Previously, he was the base's deputy commander.

3rd Combat Airbase (Kerman):
This group is commanded by Col. Gaeini, who was appointed in December 2011. (10) Previously, he was the base's deputy commander since ~2005/2006.(11)

This base is co-located with the Kerman Airport.

A contingent from this group is deployed from to an unnamed base in Zahedan to support internal security operations in the south-east region. This base is co-located with the Zahedan airport.

4th Combat and Support Base (Isfahan):
This group is commanded by BG2 Nurbakhesh Bagheri, who was appointed in November 2011. (12) (13) Previously, he served as the commander of the Havanirooz's nearby training center at Shahid Vatanpour Airbase.

This base has been described as the Havanirooz's largest and most important base. It is co-located with the IRGC's Badr Airbase.

5th Combat Airbase (Mashhad):
This group is commanded by Col. Abdulreza Khodadi. (14) Along with the Tabriz airbase, it is one of the Havanirooz's smaller combat bases.

The base is co-located with the Mashhad airport.

6th Combat Airbase (Tabriz):
This group is commanded by Col. Maqsoudi. Along with the Mashhad airbase, it is one of the Havanirooz's smaller combat bases.

The base is adjacent to the Tabriz Airport.

Abyek Airbase (Abyek):
This airbase was formed when the Ghale Morghi base in Tehran was closed down around 2011, and some of it's personnel and equipment were transferred here. (15) Abyek is not a combat airbase.

This airbase is co-located with the Army's central equipment depot.

Mehrabad Airbase (Tehran):
When Ghale Morghi was closed, a number of fixed-wing aircraft were transferred to the Havanirooz's pre-existing facilities co-located with Mehrabad Airport. (16)

Training Centers:

Shahid Vatanpour Airbase (Isfahan):
The forces primary training center, this base is currently commanded by Col. Mojtabi Rouhani, who was appointed in May 2014. (17)


Ya Ali Industrial Center (Isfahan):
Subordinate to the Havanirooz's Self-Sufficincy Jihad, the exact location is unknown. It is possible that it is co-located with the HESA facilities in Shahin Shahr.

The Havanirooz are closely affiliated with, but organizationally distinct from, the Iranian Helicopter Repair and Support Company (PANHA), which falls under the authority of the Iranian Aviation Industries Organization (IAIO).

PANHA is responsible for depot-level repair and maintenance.

It's current head is BG2 Mohammed-Ali Ahmed-Abadi. (18)


Hazrat Vali Asr UAV Group:
Responsible for operating the Havanirooz's UAVs, little is known about the organization of this group. Its location, if it is centrally located at all, is unknown. It's current commander is Col. Reza Khaki.

For further reading, see Adam Rawnsley's recent piece on them. (19)

1) Translation - Iranian Army Ground Forces (NEZAJA) Organization Charts. The Arkenstone. 02/26/2014.
2) New Havanirooz Commander Appointed. Mashregh News. 09/12/2011.
3) Havanirooz Commander: The Role of the Havanirooz in the Sacred Defense Epic. AJA. Date Unknown.
4) All Havanirooz Bases Equipped with Simulators. FNA. 09/21/2011.
5) News Meeting Held with Army Research and Self-Sufficiency Jihad Officials. AJA. 09/23/2014
6) May 2014 exercise photography.
7) Reconstruction of 5 Helicopters by the Kermanshah Havanirooz, Havanirooz Commander: The Havanirooz is Always Ready to Protect the Water and Land. ISNA. 06/09/2010.
8) The Shahid Fahmideh Center for Innovation and Scientific Collaboration Opened in Kermanshah. ISNA. 12/05/12
9) [Change] in the Masjed-e Suleiman Havanirooz. cjmis. 11/26/14.
10) Commander of the Havanirooz Base in Kerman Appointed. FNA. 12/01/2011
11) Interview with the Commander of the Kerman Havanirooz Base. AJA. Date Unknown.
12) Emergency-Rescue Helicopters Dispatched to Eight Emergencies. EMS Zabol Blogfa. 11/23/2011.
13) Memories of the Imposed War According to the Commander of the Isfahan Havanirooz. Tasnim News. 04/18/2014.
14) Two Overhauled Helicopters Returned to the Havanirooz Fleet in Mashhad. IRNA. 06/22/2014.
15) The Havanirooz Has Today Reached a Stage of Development in Which They Don't Require Assistance from Any Country to Repair Helicopters. AJA. 06/08/2013.
16) What Aircraft are the Commanders Riding in? FNA. 10/15/2013.
17) Ceremony Held for the Introduction of Havanirooz's Training Center's Command. Shabestan. 05/26/2014
18) Three-Fold Increase in Helicopter Firepower / Work in America with Iranian Certificate / Delivery of 20 Helicopters during Sacred Defense Week. FNA. 09/06/2014
19) The Artesh Ground Forces Vali-e-Asr Drone Group (Updated). rawnsl notebook.01/06/2015.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Operation Beit al-Moqdas (1982) - An Institutional Perspective from Iran's Army Ground Forces (Working Copy)

This report is a brief look at one of the more important operations in the Iran-Iraq War. The purpose of this report is to illustrate some of the Army Ground Forces history, and the way it has shaped their development over the past three decades. It is loosely intended to precede a more thorough treatment of the current doctrine and structure.

"A year and a half after the Iran-Iraq War began in September 1980, Tehran launched Operation Beit al-Moqdas, the final operation in its campaign to expel the Iraqi Army from its territory. Today, the operation holds a special place in the national memory and in the official narrative that instrumentalizes the war's symbols. The operation has also shaped the world-view of the contemporary Iranian military. In particular, for the Army Ground Forces (NEZAJA), it has been used to help articulate their doctrine and reconcile their identity as a professional service within a Revolutionary system."
Google Docs Link (pdf)

This is a working copy.  Most everything is there, but near the end of the project I happened to come across Gen. Bakhtiari's exhaustive treatment of the operation, which I'm slowly working my way though. This text will likely answer many of the implicit and explicit unknowns that beset this report. At the very least, it would allow for a great deal more fleshing out. Indeed, the parts of it I have already read were exceedingly valuable.

...and yes, in case you're wondering, saying something is a "working copy" is just another way of saying "I don't feel like editing this anymore".

HT at ACIG Forums for providing  Gen. Bakhtiari's account of the war described above, and for general research assistance ("Tom" & "Gabriel Garrido").