Monday, March 28, 2011

New Section

A new tab has been added to the top of your screen - "Scenarios of War". This new section will explore hypothetical scenerios involving the use of Iranian military power.

These may either be probable scenarios, or improbable ones that purely serve as a thought experiment designed to illustrate certain aspects of the Iranian armed forces.

At this juncture, the focus will be on easily quantifiable scenarios using verifiable numbers and statistics rather then more vague discussions of grand strategy. However that may change as time progresses.

This is largely why many of the posts will likely revolve around the use of missiles since they're relatively predictable.

Plans for development of this section in the near future involve the hypothetical attack on Gulf Arab oil facilities by a variety of means, primarily cruise and ballistic missiles.

1 1/4-ton Tactical Vehicle

1 1/4-ton Tactical Vehicle
***The Following is an Excerpt from "Iranian Military Capability 2011"***

A relative mystery, this vehicle's name is unknown. It is a short flatbed truck, with a large two-door driver’s cab that can either be hard or soft-top.

The truck itself is intended to carry a variety of modular cargo containers that appear to be custom designed, at least in part, for the vehicle. This means that the truck is the major carrier for Iran’s mobile EW and networking assets and is often paired with radars and other communication “pods”, such as the BSR-1 air-defense radar pictured right.

The truck relies on a Mercedes Benz OM364 engine with 120 liter fuel capacity and a combination leaf-spring and telescopic shock absorber beam axle suspension as well as a 5-gear transmission.

Crew: 1+1
Weight: 3.06 tonnes
Engine: Mercedes Benz OM364
Max Speed: 100 km/h
Capacity: 1.13 tonne (1.25 ton)

3/4-ton Tactical Vehicles

3/4-ton Tactical Vehicles
***The Following is an Excerpt from "Iranian Military Capability 2011"***

Note: The name may either be "Sepher", meaning sky or "Sepehr" meaning a journey or expedition.

2-door Sephehr variant (ISNA)
The Sepehr is an entirely indigenous 3/4 ton tactical vehicle. It comes in both a two-door and 4 door versions. The production line for the vehicle was inaugurated in February 2008.

It is powered by an unknown 139 hp engine and has a rigid beam-axle suspension. Both versions feature almost no armor.

The two-door version externally resembles a light truck while the 4-door version more closely resembles an early model Humvee with a passenger compartment rather then a truck bed. The roof and walls are still composed of a soft-shell over a metal frame. Unlike the two door version, it cannot be fitted with weapons. It also features a front-mounted winch.

In September 2010, the “Kaviran” vehicle was unveiled which is externally identical to the Sepehr.

Specifications: 2-door Sephehr
Engine: Unknown 139 hp
Armament: 12.7 mm machine-gun, Zu-23-2, possibly other
Capacity: .68 tonne (3/4 ton)


Toofan (pictured left) (Tuning Talks Forum)
The Toofan is another incarnation of the ¾ ton design with several known styles and development models.

What can be assumed to be the production model of the Toofan is very similar to the 2-door Sepehr, resembling an open topped truck with a soft top passenger compartment that has two rows of padded benches facing inward which can carry at least six soldiers.

Specifications: Toofan
Crew: 1+7
Capacity: .68 tonne (3/4 ton)

The only official model for export, the “Thistle” is advertised by Modlex but has not been seen in Iranian service of even at all outside of the single front view used by the export catalogue.

Specifications: Thistle
Length: 4.6 m
Width: 1.9 m
Height: 2.2 m
Max Range: 700 km
Max Speed: 120 km/h
Capacity: .68 tonne (3/4 ton)

Safir 1/4-ton Tactical Vehicle

Safir 1/4-ton Tactical Vehicle
***The Following is an Excerpt from "Iranian Military Capability 2011"***

¼ Ton tactical vehicles are among the most common vehicles in the IRIGF, serving as transports, weapon platforms and multipurpose vehicles. Iran's stock centers around the ubiquitous “Jeep” design and includes the M-38 and it's civilian counterpart, the CJ-5 named 'Shahbaz' in Iran, which has an M-151 style front-grill, leading to some confusion over a vehicles actual ID. Also used is the later M-151 and rarely, a few other types such a land rover, or a Soviet Gaz, but these are rarely used.

The Safir is a ¼ ton tactical vehicle modeled after the M-38 light utility vehicle. A new generation of 1 ¼ ton-class Safir tactical vehicles is under development. However, no hard data is available yet.

The Safir is a light, open topped utility vehicle with optional soft cover. It's suspension is beam-axle, which is one of the way's to tell it's based off the M-38 rather then the later M-151 also in Iran's inventory. The Safir can be distinguished from the M-38 by its sharper angled body panels, hood and by its distinctive grill.

The Safir features a new 105 hp Nissan Z24 engine. It can be outfitted in various forms, from a 4 seat passenger model to carrying weapons such as 107 mm MLRS system, recoilless rifles or ATGM's.

Specifications: Safir
Crew: 1+5
Weight: 1.5 tonne
Length: 3.51 m
Width: 1.69 m
Height: 1.88 m
Engine: 105 hp Nissan Z24
Max Speed: 130 km/h
Max Range: 500 km
Armament: 106 mm or 76 mm recoilless rifle, OR 12.7 mm machine-gun, OR mortar, OR Toofan ATGM, OR 107 mm MLRS, OR other.

Larger Safir prototype (Mir Hossaini at

Light Tactical Vehicles (Incl. Motorcycles)

Light Tactical Vehicles (Incl. Motorcycles)
***The Following is an Excerpt from "Iranian Military Capability 2011"***

Motorcycles and All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV)
'Blow of Zulfiqar' Wargames, Baluchistan, 2006 (Fars News)
Motorcycles are omnipresent within the Iranian military, almost defining their preference for fast, non-traditional tactics then for a conventional military. They function almost as modern-day dragoons. Note that this section refers to both two-wheeled bikes as well as 4-wheeled ATV's, though the former are far more common.

Motor-bikes are deployed throughout the ground forces, in the marines, IRGCGF, and the IRIA. They are commonly deployed at the squad level in hunter-killer teams, such as with a team of 5+ bikes of two men each carrying RPG's and assault rifles. Other organizations include mechanizing an entire squad or platoon, complete with rifleman, support gunners, and anti-air/tank soldiers. It's also not uncommon to see a "swarm" of motor-bikes with 10-20 RPG's and supporting rifleman. Sniper teams are also a common sight on motorbikes.

Increasingly common use of 4-wheeled ATVs (Fars News)
The exact type of motor-bike varies, though they are often commercial models, such as Honda, converted for military use. One point of note is that they are often unpainted and appear in their bright-red factory finish. One explanation for this might be that they just haven't been painted yet or that it's just laziness; another might be that it's just another camouflage pattern. While this might seem counterintuitive, by blending in with the rest of the thousands of Iranian bikes on any major street, they are better allowing themselves to blend in with the environment they intend to fight in, the urban battleground rather then singling themselves out as a military target. Some videos of exercises actually show Basij and IRGC conducting military drills on motorcycles in a bustling cityscape, giving some indication on how they might be used in urban terrain.

In the war with Iraq, Iran used motorcycles in this manner to destroy Iraqi armor by running circles around the cumbersome tanks with their slow-to-traverse turrets. These tactics depended on the lack of infantry support for the armor, a situation that is unlikely to be the case with any ground battles against US or even GCC Arab states.

"Swarming" light infantry supporting armor (Fars News)
This brings up questions of their effectiveness in combat. To get a good idea, we have only look to Iran's neighbor Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, the Taliban have a long history of using Honda motorcycles as transportation and to mount ambushes against ISAF/NATO and GOA forces. Even the US has taken to deploying motorcycles. The advantage to this is the maneuverability; geography in many parts of Iran, such as the Alborz and Zagros mountains, is similar to that in Afghanistan, and the small mobile motorbikes can go places a tank, APC or even a truck can't, the same holds true on the opposite type of terrain, within Iranian cities with their twisting alleyways and congested buildings. Another advantage to these systems is that they're smaller, and by this virtue they attract less attention and are easier to hide then any other vehicle.

Ultimately, as with so many other weapons, their effectiveness depends on their use. If used to set up ambushes and carry hunter-killer teams across cities or mountains the Iranians might have a deadly system, but if used to launch a charge across flatlands they would likely be mowed down by tanks or gunships.
Ranger with 7.62 mm machine-gun (ISNA)

Ranger and Samandar Tactical Vehicles

The Ranger (literally ‘Ranger’/ رنجر rather then the Persian word for ranger as one might expect) as well as the Samandar are light tactical vehicles that are comparable to the US DPV/FAV/LSV with the Samandar being a veritable copy in terms of configuration. Neither vehicle is reported to have entered serial production.

Samandar variant (Borna News)
Both types are built on a light sand-rail frame and emphasize off-road mobility and speed. Both have a crew of 3 and mount a machinegun. This however remains the only concrete details on the two vehicles.

Zulfiqar MBT

Zulfiqar-1 Main Battle Tank
***The Following is a Modified Excerpt from "Iranian Military Capability 2011"***
***This piece is currently being revised and expanded upon***

The Zulfiqar is named after the legendary sword of the Shia leader Ali. (1) It was first tested in 1993, publically revealed in 1994, and rumored to be in production since 1995. (2) Official specifications include a weight of 40 tons, a 1,000 hp engine, 70 km/h speed, "laser tracking", an "infra-red device" and fire on the move capability.(3) The design is loosely based off the Patton series tanks with T-72 influences.  It features a conventional layout with a driver sitting center of hull with three daylight periscopes. The commanders station is located behind the gunners on the right side of the turret with the loaders station on the left.The turret is situated in the middle of the hull with the power pack to the rear.

The hull is most similar to the M-48A5 and the M-60A1, but maintains a few significant differences. The welded RHA construction gives it a far more boxier configuration then the boat-shaped cast hull of the M-48A5.The upper glacis plate is flat like on the M-60A1 rather then curved like on the M-48A5. The hull may be slightly taller relative to the tracks and running gear then either of the two Patton tanks, but this cannot be confirmed at this time.

The running gear is from the M-48A5 rather then the M-60A1 as evidenced by the presence of five track return rollers rather then three. However, the road wheels are aluminum rather then steel. Bump stops from the M-60A1 can be seen on the hull behind the road wheels.

It uses the same track as the rest of Iran's M-48A5/60A1s. One feature that distinguishes them from Pattons uses elsewhere are their square track pads rather then the chevrons found on the T97 or the octogons on the T142.
(, edited by author)
The torsion bar suspension also hails from the Patton series, though notably absent are the shock absorbers above the first, second and sixth road wheels.

External stowage bins can be found on both sides of the hull above the track running most of the length of the tank.

(, edited by author)
As in most tanks, the drivers compartment can be found at the front and center of the hull. The drivers hatch opens to the right and contains a mount for the M24 night-vision periscope. The driver also has mounts for three M27 daylight periscopes. Unlike on the Patton series, these do appear to be fixed in place, or at least, do not have protective covers. (4). Steering is accomplished via a T-bar from the M-60A1 located under the forward facing daylight periscope rather then a steering wheel found on the M-48A5. Instrumentation panels, like on the Patton series, are found on the left and right hand side. Acceleration and braking pedals are also identical to the M-48A5/60A1 and are directly in front of the driver below the steering bar. What is missing however is the fire-extinguishing system which is typically found in the drivers compartment of the M-48A5/60A1. It is also unknown if a ready-rack of main-gun ammunition is found to the left of the driver like on some Patton tanks. This compartment also contains the crew's personal heater, the exhaust of which can be seen venting from it's characteristic position to the right of the drivers hatch. Several towing/lifting eyes as well as a pair of headlights are also mounted on the glacis plates.

At the rear of the hull is the power pack. Observations indicate that it carries the Continental Motors 750 hp air-cooled diesel AVDS-1790-2 V-12 engine. This is indicated by the characteristic exhaust and engine compartment shape which is similar to all of Iran's other Patton tanks which share this engine. This would logically be hooked to the Allison CD-850-6 transmission which was also used on Patton tanks. (5) However, official commentary by Iranian officials indicate that the tank is powered by a 1,000 hp engine.There are several possible explanations for this. (6) Some have suggested that Iran might have found some way to improve the original AVDS engine (7) or otherwise procure more powerful variants elsewhere like the Israelis when they equipped the Merkeva I, II and III with AVDS variants. (8) Another explanation would be that since it's only a prototype the presence of an engine like the AVDS isn't unexpected and that the final production model would be fitted with something else. This practice is relatively common during a tanks development phase in countries across the world.

Assuming that the stated weight of 36 tonnes is correct, if the tank was fitted with the AVDS-1790-2, it would have a power to weight ratio of 20.83 hp/t compared to roughly 16 hp/t for the M-60A1 (depending on configuration). However, if it was fitted with the 1,000 hp engine, it would generate 27.7 hp/t which would explain the much faster top speed of the Zulfiqar compared to the slower Patton series.

(, edited by author)
In the prototype at least, the AVDS engine has two exhausts that are visible, one on either engine access door at the rear of the tank. Air cleaners are found between storage bins above the tracks. Both these features are found on the Patton series. The tail lights are found on the rear fenders. Meanwhile, another pair of towing and lifting eyes are also found at the rear of the hull. Notably absent from the engine compartment is a towing pintle.

The middle of the hull houses the fighting compartment and the turret which represents the sharpest departure from the M-48A5/60A1 design. The short, boxlike turret is built of extremely thin (a few cm thick) RHA plates welded together. It is so thin that a 25 or 30 mm autocannon could easily punch through them. The implication to this is to reinforce that this tank is just a prototype. the most likely explanation is that this turret was simply slapped together for developments sake and not intended for actual combat.

There are two distinct turret variants, one on each prototype. Both are shorter then the M-48A5/60A1 turret, especially then the M-60A1 with its high-profile commanders cupola. It is as wide as the M-48A5/60A1 at the base, but because of its rectangular shape rather then needle nosed or curved, it presents a much larger profile of the front face of the turret. This effect also increases the space available in the turret since there are now "corners" where there were none before. A small shot trap is formed when the upper faces meet smaller upward angled plates on the lower third of the turret face.

The first turret model is the most common,and is armed with the 126 mm 2A46 main gun as well as a mount for the commanders 12.7 mm machine gun. The second model, the one armed with the 105 mm M68 main gun features a more tapered turret bustle as well as a different style of commanders cupola and hatch.

The turrets have been seen equipped with a variety of other equipment for testing including the gunners primary sight in front of the tank commanders cupola, a Patton styled ventilator at the right-rear of the turret, cross-winds sensor at the front, two banks of smoke dis chargers and an unknown device, possibly a telescoping laser warning system also at the rear of the turret.

Inside the turret, the fighting compartment again bears strong similarity to the M-48A5/60A1. The gunner and commander sit to the right side with the gunner in front of and below the commander while the loader sits on the left of the turret.

The gunners position prominently features the DNNS-2A gunners sight manufactured by Zrak in Sarejevo. This system belongs to the same generation as Iran's KAT-72 (EFCS-3-55) FCS and is much more capable then anything else otherwise found on Iranian tanks. Below this is the gunners controls from the M-48A5, and then below that, the control yoke for the DNNS-2A. It features a day and 2nd generation night sight, with a laser range finder and 5.5 x magnifications that is effective out to 1,300 meters. To the right is the ballistic computer paired with the DNNS-2A and to the left is the main gun. The main gun is the 125 mm 2A46 gun found on Iran's T-72M1 tanks. The 2A46M gun that would come with Iran's T-72Ss not yet being available. Most notably, the gun is not fitted with an autoloader of any kind. Naturally this would present several problems to the loader the chief of which would be working with the multiple components of the 125 mm ammunition. Several background features like the manual turret traverse and elevation controls, oil reservoir and azimuth indicator come from the M-48A5.

Behind the gunner is the tank commanders position. It is unclear whether the TC even has a full set of controls given the status of the tank as a prototype. The cupola has a lower silhouette then the M19 on the M-60A1 and more closely resembles models from early M-48s. An arm for a 12.7 mm DShK machine gun is usually mounted. Behind the commander is an AN/VRC-89/91/92 vehicle radio set.

Accurate documentation about the loaders position is also lacking. It would probably resemble that on the M-48A5/60A1. In fact, ammunition storage in the turret bustle is still configured for 105 mm ammunition, not 125 mm. Further ammunition storage in the forward portion of the tank is possible, but unconfirmed. Moreover, there is no coxial machine gun mounted in front of the loader, to the left of the main gun like on other Patton tanks.

It was reported in 1995 that Iran was "manufacturing the Zulfiqar tank in large numbers",however real world observations cannot confirm this statement (9) However, because it has never been seen in real world service, it remains the opinion of most Iran watchers that the Zulfiqar-1 has never entered service.

If it entered service, the Zulfiqar-1 would not fill the role of a modern MBT. The fact that it is based on a half-century old design means that it would be extremely limited from the get go -it is essentially an M-48A5 with
1) a larger gun
2) better fire control
3) worse protection - The steel armor is extremely thin and is almost entirely outdated as a protective material in this day and age of advanced composite (ex: glass, ceramic, DU, rubber, aluminum, titanium) materials.

The obvious, and I think the best explanation is that since this was a prototype from the early 90s, not too much should be read into this initial design and that most glaring flaws were probably only a result of it being a temporary measure. As such one should refrain from drawing too many conclusions from a very specific tank that was never intended to enter mass production.

Specifications: Zulfiqar 1
Crew: 4
Weight: 36 tonne
Length: 6.7 m
Width: 3.6 m
Height: 2.4 m*
Engine: 750 hp AVDS-1790
Armament: 125 mm 2A46, 12.7 mm machine-gun
FCS/Optics: Zrak DNNS-2 gunners sight

(1)  Zulfiqar. Wikipedia.
(2) Jane's Armour and Artillery 2005-2006. Edited by: Christopher F. Foss, William Cook Defence.
(3) Army-Tank Production: Iranian Armed Forces Gearing Towards Self-Sufficiency. IRNA. September 24th 1995. Accessed via ACIG Forums.
(4) The periscope designations are not exact as the M-48A5/60A1 carried a wide range over their combined history. Any production model of the Zulfiqar would likely carry Basir or Shabaviz-type periscopes. Information about these models can be found via IEI or MODLEX websites.
(5) M60 Main Battle Tank 1960-1991. R. Lathrop and J. McDonald. 2003. Osprey Publishing.
(6) ibd IRNA, 1995
(7) what the difference bitween Zulfiqar 1 and 2 and 3 and 4?(sic). Iran Military Forum. March 12th 2010.
(8) Merkava. Wikipedia.
(9) ibd IRNA, 1995

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sayyad AFV

Sayyad Armored Fighting Vehicle
***The Following is an Excerpt from "Iranian Military Capability 2011"***

The Scorpion also serves as the basis for the Sayyad AFV family of vehicles which include an anti-tank and artillery support version.

AT Variant (
Based on the Scorpion hull, the overall length has been shortened, from five road-wheels to 4, though the engine remains the same. The Hull has been slightly redesigned as well as removing the external storage baskets.

Most notably though, the turret has been removed and is replaced by either a single or double Toofan/TOW ATGM launcher with six extra rounds carried on the outside of the tank,or two clusters of 23 77mm rockets each. These are probably intended as if they were used from a helicopter, in the direct-LOS role.

MLRS Variant (

The Sayyad concept represents an interesting fusion of conventional battle doctrine of lightly armored reconnaissance AFVs with the more asymmetric notion of using tank-killers in light, mobile packages like the Toofan-armed Sayyads. Depending on how they're used, they could be a game changer, or if used conventionally, they could be restricted to being no more valuable then the scouts they were designed to be.

The Sayyad does not appear to be in service due to its paint scheme indicating its status as a development project.

Safir-74/T72Z MBT

Safir-74 / T72Z Main Battle Tank (T-54/55 Upgrade)
***The Following is an Excerpt from "Iranian Military Capability 2011"***

IRGC Safir-74 (Fars News)
The T-72Z/Safir-74 is a set of domestic Iranian upgrades for T-54/55 type-tanks. The T-72Z is the name for upgraded Type-59's, while Safir-74 refers to upgraded T-54's. However, since they are brought to the same standard, and to avoid confusion, they will both hereafter be referred to by the name 'Safir-74'. They are far more common within the IRGC, though do exist in some degree within the IRIA.

The upgrade program consists of a new modular power pack with a 780 hp V-46 diesel engine and associated gear box, brakes, hydraulics, steering and cooling system. This compares to the original 581 hp engine on the T-54/55.

The tank was also up-gunned with the HM-49L, a copy the 105 mm M68, the same gun used on the M-60A1. It has been coupled with the Fotana EFCS-3-55 fire control system. Kontakt-3 ERA supplements the original armor. But it lacks any direct smoke discharger's.

The Safir-74 program has substantially increased the lethality of the T-54/55 platform, the M68 gun is accurate out to longer ranges and when paired with a modern FCS, is still deadly. However, you can only upgrade a platform so much and such is the case with the T-54/55, it's too obsolete, and small to compete effectively against modern MBT's.

Iran purchased roughly 200 V-46 engines for the upgrade program, and since this is the limiting factor in this case, so we can assume the total number of Safir-74's in service is around 200, with the remaining T-54/55's being phased out of service. However, this assumes that Iran hasn't attempted to reverse engineer the engines, something well within their capability.

Crew: 4
Weight: 36 tonne
Length: 6.45 m
Width: 3.37 m
Height: 2.40 m
Engine: 780 hp V-46-6 V-12
Max Speed: 65 km/h
Armor: 450-480 mm RHA vs KE, 700-900 mm RHA vs HEAT
Armament: 105 mm M68, 7.62 mm coaxial MG, 12.7 mm turret MG
FCS: Fotona EFCS-3

Mobarez MBT

Mobarez Main Battle Tank (Chieftain MBT Upgrade)
***The Following is a Modified Excerpt from "Iranian Military Capability 2011"***

While the Chieftain is theoretically one of Iran's more powerful tanks, it's reputation is far from perfect, particularly with regard to the power pack. The engine is notoriously underpowered and has a tendency to overheat in the hot desert air.

These issues were addressed in the Mobarez upgrade program. While specifics are not known, its features include a newer, more robust fuel tank, new gearbox, upgraded suspension, a new engine and increased armor. Upgrades to the 120 mm gun include night-vision and a laser range finder, complete with an electrical generator power supply.


Assessing these claims verifies most of them; the engine compartment is noticeably larger, though the armor appears to be largely unchanged, with a slightly redesigned hull due to the larger engine compartment. There is also a new laser range-finger located on the right hand side of the turret above the smoke discharger's.
LRF (Unknown)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rakhsh APC

Rakhsh Armored Personnel Carrier 
***The Following is an Excerpt from "Iranian Military Capability 2011"***

Current production model (Diomil)
The Rakhsh APC is a lightweight 4x4 APC designed for policing actions more then full-on combat. It is in service with both the IRIP and IRGC. The APC is extremely similar to the North Korean M-1992 APC.

The Rakhsh comes in two variants, an early development model, which has apparently still been produced, and the later, export model, that due to sanctions, ended up being produced for domestic service as well.

The earlier model most commonly carries a 14.5 mm machine gun in a turret while the later model has only been seen with a 12.7 mm in a cupola. Though there is no reason why one couldn't carry the other. In earlier models, the side-doors consisted of two pieces, while the later model has single piece side-doors. Some models have been shown with a Zu-23-2 AAA.
Early model with applique armor (Fars News)

Other differences between the two are minor, mostly aesthetic likely reflecting a changed manufacturing technique rather then any significant changes. The differences include a flattening of the top of the engine compartment, elimination of certain angles and shifting air intakes.

The hull is welded steel with a very distinctive blocky, angled appearance. This offers protection against 7.62 mm ammunition with an available spaced appliqué armor set at steep angles to the hull. It can also use the bolt-on armor plates designed for other AFVs.

Other features include remote tire inflation-deflation, run-flat tires, a winch, air-conditioning, optional smoke dischargers and NBC protection.

The APC can carry 8 passengers in addition to the 2 crewman. Each passenger has access to firing and observation ports. They can dismount via a single rear door, two side doors, or via a roof hatch.

It is powered by a MAN DO824LFL09 diesel engine taken from a heavy general purpose truck, giving it a power to weight ratio of 20 hp/t and speed of 95 km/h

In addition to service with the IRIP and IRGC, the Rakhsh has been exported to Sudan.
(Various Sources)

IRIP Rakhsh (Jamejam Online)
The Rakhsh can't navigate overly-treacherous ground, destroy other armored vehicles, or protect it's passengers from large caliber ammunition, but it's important to remember it's not meant to do those things, it's not being slated to replace the Boragh or BMP-2 any time soon. In it's job as a policing or light-duty APC it's acceptable, but not outside that zone.

Tosan Rapid Reaction Tank

Tosan Rapid Reaction Tank
***The Following is an Excerpt from "Iranian Military Capability 2011"***

The Tosan light tank is one of the more interesting cases in the Iranian military, it was designed as a long-range, high endurance rapid reaction tank with a 90 mm gun and as with the Sayyad, it has the potential to fulfill a very unique and potentially valuable role within the Iranian military.

The tank was first publicly referenced in 1997 with the promise that mass production would soon follow, however in a move that is symptomatic of the army's larger procurement issues, it was not until 2008 that the production line was officially inaugurated, assuming the most recent announcement to be genuine and not another bluff.

However, the curious thing is that we have never seen or even heard a concrete description of the Tosan. Many have tried to pass Scorpions or Sayyads off as Tosans, but they inevitably always lack the 90 mm gun.

It is generally accepted that the Tosan is based off the Scorpion, but there is no real proof for this beyond it being a logical progression. This path of reasoning began with a ‘Janes’ article which suggested the Tosan may be based off the Scorpion, however,ar they never took a definitive stance on this possibility. Another option is a reverse engineering and upgrading of the EE-9 Cascavel, whose wheels rather then tracks would give it the long range and rapid response ability that is touted in the media. Another option would be another version of the Boragh. Regardless, it is likely that the 90 mm gun comes from the EE-9.

The Tosan is said to have an advanced firing and targeting system which is likely given the other upgrades we have seen Iran produce for its armored vehicles.

The Tosan light tank, only just entering production, would only have a few assets available, even assuming it's been deployed and isn't still in trials.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Iranian Military Capability 2011 - Open Source Intel Project

About the Project
"The Open Source Intelligence Project 2011 is an attempt to draw together the most salient bits of currently available Open Source material to piece together a broad and largely complete analysis of Iranian military capability. Open Source refers to unclassified, public sources.

The co-authors and reviewers come from a wide range of backgrounds, including in some cases extensive military intelligence experiences and/or relevant specialist knowledge. However, their primary connection is an appreciation and active participation in the Open Source intelligence scene. All those involved have contributed on an amateur/civilian basis. Some have requested to remain anonymous, for various reasons, which we must respect.

The project was started in April 2010 and took months of writing, research, drafts and revisions to make it into the form you are reading. We have attempted to provide a single text that will be easy to navigate and digest. However, it is the work of multiple people and this may be apparent in different writing styles and minor formatting differences. We apologize for this, but believe it is inevitable in this type of undertaking.

We hope that you find the document interesting and informative – we are hopeful that there is some information and analysis which although open source in nature, is fresh and stimulating to even a highly informed reader"

The files are available for download here:

1. Ground Forces


4. Naval Forces

This blogs author wrote the Ground forces section and helped review the others.

Another Iranian Arms Shipment Captured by Israel

Previously I investigated the "Francop" incident where Israel intercepted a merchant vessel loaded with weapons, including rockets, mortarts and small arms ammunition from Iran to Hezbollah.

Today, Israel seized another ship, traveling from Turkey (originally from Syria) to Egypt (with a presumable end destination of the Gaza Strip) that also contains weaponry (ostensibly Iranian).

This is the story thus far:

PM: Arms on broad Victoria vessel originated from Iran
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the Israeli navy interception of the "Victoria" ship carrying a large delivery of weapons off the country's Mediterranean coast on Tuesday, saying the arms on broad the vessel originated from Iran.

"We had reasonable ground to suppose the arms on board the ship were intended to harm Israeli citizens. The weapons originated from Iran. The interception occurred in high seas according to international laws. We've updated all of the countries involves in the matter and countries around the world," said Netanyahu. (Attila Somfalvi)
So far, only these pictures have been released, courtesy of

In this first picture, we cans see shipping crates containing mortar tubes. Note that these crates are identical to those found on the Francop.

This is a 120 mm mortar that is somewhat different then the usual model associated with Iran, however, there are enough similarities (fuse, mortar tube, banding) that the difference in text markings is negligible.

Even more crates...


The big question here is whether or not these weapons came from the Iranian ships that visited Syria recently. Now, the timing of this seizure in turn raises some questions because it would appear to be extremely fortuitous for Israel to find this cargo after they were claiming this exact danger. This will most likely generate claims of a false flag operation on the part of pro-Iranian or anti-Israeli commentators. This claim may not be entirely without merit because it is an odd coincidence to say the least, but to assert it at this point would be pure supposition.

The ship was found to be carrying C-704 (Nasr) anti-ship missiles. This is a major development and could represent a very significant increase capability for Hamas if there is another way of them attaining the system.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Uniform Insignia - Skill Badges/Tabs

Uniform Insignia - Skill Badges/Tabs

**Note: When talking about positioning of patches on the uniform, the cited positions are better thought of as general guidelines rather then hard and fast rules. If you see a patch that you think should be in one position and it's in another, more then likely the individual soldier just sewed it on wrong.***

Ranger Tab
Skill tab issued to soldiers who complete ranger training and is not restricted to any specific unit. Details about what makes up ranger training is unknown. The shoulder tab is placed on the upper right sleeve. In lieu of the tab, a patch with an upward-pointing dagger and unintelligible writing can be found on the upper left or right sleeve.
(Mehr News, Fars News, IRNA)

Commando Tab
(Danilo Matz)
Skill tab issued to soldiers who complete commando (Takavar) training and is not restricted to any specific unit. Details about what makes up commando training is unknown. The red and black shoulder tab is most often found on the upper left sleeve above the emblem of the Artesh or rank insignia.

Not much is known. Probably the same as other tabs, i.e. issued to graduates of airborne (Havabord) school. The red and blue shoulder tab is most often found on the upper right sleeve about unit insignia. In open-source documentation, it is most commonly seen on soldiers from the 55th Airborne Brigade.
(Jamejam, MEcollectibles)

Desert Warfare
(Danilo Matz)
No information about qualification at this time. Typically worn above the right breast pocket.

Mountain Warfare
(Danilo Matz)
No information about qualification at this time. Nicknamed "Rambo patch" by some in army. Typically worn above, or on the left breast pocket. Relatively common.

(Fars News, MEcollectibles)
Issued to soldiers who complete parachute training. Come in three variants, one, two and three star, indicating basic, senior and master. No details available on what the requirements are for each level. Typically worn above the right breast pocket. Relatively common.

Parachute Instructor
Similar to basic parachutist patch, also comes in three variants, one, two and three stars. No details available on what the requirements are for each level. Worn in the same position as the parachutist badge.

Parachute Rigger
Rarely seen, this red badge features a pair of wings flanking illegible writing and a parachute canopy below a stylized "Allah".

While Iran is not traditionally thought of as a nation that has HALO capabilities. but the existence of this patch would indicate otherwise. Interestingly enough, three rings on the bottom are similar to those on the mountain warfare patch. Typically worn on or above the left breast pocket.

(Danilo Matz)
One of the more common patches seen across the armed forces. The hand to hand combat patch features an upward pointing dagger and "Judo" written across the top. It is typically worn on the upper right or left sleeve below shoulder tabs.

(Various Iran News agencies)

Close-up of #2 above (Eric Larson)
Unknown, possibly gendarmie related. and thus, obsolete (Eric Larson)
The author would like to express a special "thank-you" to the individual collectors who allowed the use of material from their personal collections to be used in this article which vastly increased the quality of the end product.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Uniform Insignia and Patches of the IRIA

Uniform Insignia and Patches of the IRIA

**Note: When talking about positioning of patches on the uniform, the cited positions are better thought of as general guidelines rather then hard and fast rules. If you see a patch that you think should be in one position and it's in another, more then likely the individual soldier just sewed it on wrong.***

Symbol of the Artesh
(Danilo Matz)
Main emblem of the regular armed forces, including the IRIA, IRIAF, IRIN, and IRIADF. Features crossed swords, a bird taking flight, a stylized "Allah". Typically worn as a patch on the right breast pocket on field uniform, or as a pin in the same position on a dress uniform. Also found on caps.

Symbol of the Army
(Danilo Matz)
Emblem of the Islamic Republic of Iran Army, the patch features a helmet in front of a large stylized "Allah" which is backed by the Iranian flag. Typically worn on the upper left sleeve above rank insignia or sleeve pocket, and below shoulder tabs.

77th Mechanized Infantry Division
While not positively the 77th MID emblem, the positioning of this patch on the upper right sleeve on soldiers from Mashhad would seem to indicate it. Not definitive shapes except what might be a mosque dome can be discerned.

65th Airborne Special Forces Brigade
The emblem of the famous 65th NOHED/SF brigade features a green parachute canopy combined with a swept back wing and dagger with a bow and arrow in the background. It is worn on the upper right sleeve of the green-dominant safariflage uniforms used by the 65th.

55th Airborne Brigade
The emblem of the 55th paratrooper/airborne brigade based out of Shiraz features two outswept wings flanking an outline of Iran combined with a parachute canopy. The lettering beneath it reads: "Teep 55 Havabord", or, "55th airborne brigade. The patch is worn on the upper right sleeve above rank insignia but below shoulder tabs.

25th Independent Commando Bridade
Not much is known about the 25th independent commando brigade that this patch belongs to beyond that they're based out of Pasveh. The lettering reads "teep 25 مستقل [unclear about transliteration] Takavar" or "25th independent commando brigade". The patch is worn on the upper right sleeve above rank insignia but below shoulder tabs.

58th Commando Division
(Danilo Matz)
The emblem of the 58th "Zulfiqar" commando division features a tan beret, sword/dagger and a pair of crossed green arrows on a background on snow-capped mountains. Semi-illegible text adorn the top and bottom. Typically worn on the upper right sleeve

16th Armored Division
(Eric Larson)
The emblem of the 16th Armored division, based out of Qazvin, features a tank above a pair of swords superimposed over an illustration of Iran. Below this, text reads "16th Armored Divsion" (لشگر ۱۶ زرهی). Assumed to be work on the upper right sleeve.

21st Infantry Division
(Eric Larson)
The emblem of the 21st Infantry Division based out of Tabriz. The patch features many similarities to the 58th commando division (above) including crossed arrows and a sword superimposed over a background of mountains. The implication of this is unknown given that the 21st ID is assumed to be a conventional infantry division.

The author would like to express a special "thank-you" to the individual collectors who allowed the use of material from their personal collections to be used in this article which vastly increased the quality of the end product.