Highlights from Army Day 2011 Parade
Every year on April 18th the Islamic Republic of Iran celebrates Army Day, or Rooz-e Artesh in celebration of their armed forces. Traditionally large parades are held across the country, the largest one taking place in Tehran.
The star of the show was undoubtedly the Zulfiqar-3 tank. After creating quite a stir in 2003 when it was shown during Sacred Defense Week, the original bare-bones prototypes remained virtually unchanged whenever they were drug out onto parade in later years. However this year, the tank, which bears an uncanny resemblance to the US's M1 Abrams, was shown with a full complement of equipment (at least externally). A more complete evaluation of this development will appear later. The two other Zulfiqar-3 prototypes were also shown, but without any of the additional accessories.
Also in the armor department, the relatively recent "Samsam" upgrade for the M-60A1 tank also made an appearance. This time around the "double-thickness Kontakt-3" ERA is organized more symmetrically compared to the earlier models seen on parade which looked as through the bricks had been thrown on and bolted on wherever they happened to land. That being said, there are still major gaps in the coverage, particularly at the front of the turret. Thankfully one mystery has been solved though; the mystery boxes on either side of the main gun on the front of the turret have been identified by a placard on the other side of the trailer as being IR jammers. I had suspected this might have been the case, but now it's confirmed!
A number of Zu-23-2s were also shown that were synced with remote weapons control. While they are not fully automatic, they do have an optical device and power elevation/traverse.
|Air defense Boragh (M-ATF)|
As one might be able to tell, one bonus to this parade was the wide range of camouflage patterns. Both the Samsam and the Boragh (above) as well as several other vehicles were outfitted in a black (or dark brown), white and brown "blob" pattern on a background of olive drab. A BTR-60 and another Boragh were fitted with a tan, brown and white vertical "striped/blob" pattern. There were a few other patterns, most slightly related to each other in some form or another. These patterns all applied relatively recently as evidenced by the fact that several of these vehicles were seen during Sacred Defense Week 2010 with older paint schemes. This would explain why many of the vehicles on parade appeared to be immaculate and without any "wear and tear". This brings up the question as to whether these patterns are going to be deployed elsewhere. More then likely they are just patterns applied to development or display vehicles as we've seen the same thing happen with plenty of other pain schemes (most rather horrendous) in the past.
Another surprise to many was the presence of two M113s in the all-white paint scheme of UN peace keepers. This is the second time that this happened, the first being at this time last year. This was coupled with an announcement by Brig. Gen. Pourdastan that the IRIA has a designated peacekeeping unit with the express purpose of engaging in UN peacekeeping missions. The general did specify however that they were not currently engaged in any operations. (1) According to the UN, Iran's peacekeeping contributions is currently limited to two "experts" in UMIS (United Nations Mission in Sudan). This is out of a total of 68 countries involved contributing a total of 10,445 peace-keepers. (2)
|M113 in Tehran (M-ATF)|
As many have observed, ATVs have been replacing motorcycles in their iconic role as modern-day dragoons. The interesting feature in this case is that the change isn't just visible on the parades in Tehran. This year, the use of ATVs has been seen by units in Ahvaz (92nd AD), Khorromabad (84th MID), Mashhad (77th MID), and Qazvin (16th AD).
|ATVs in Tehran (Borna News)|
|BTR-60PB in Ahvaz (Fars News)|
|BTR-60PB in Mashhad (Fars News)|
In Isfahan an M109 was paraded equipped with an amphibious fording kit. The kit consists of four air bags on either side of the track and a wall erected around the top portion of the hull.
|Amphibious M109 (Fars News)|
|T-72(S) in Mashhad (Fars News)|
|77th MID patch on upper right shoulder (Fars News)|
|IRIN Marines in desert digital patterns (IRNA)|
|IRIA soldiers in Ahvaz (Fars News)|
|Mystery submarine/SDV (Jamejam)|
|M-47 with ERA and security-camera in Mashhad (Jamejam)|
|Raad-2 in Tabriz (Mehr News)|
(1) Iran Ready to Help UN with Peacekeeping Missions. Fars News. April 20th 2011. http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=9001311728