Tuesday, June 28, 2011

News - Iran Unveils Underground Ballistic Missile Launch Silos

Iran Unveils Underground Ballistic Missile Launch Silos

Iran recently announced the commencement of the 'Great Prophet 6' wargames which will involve the firing of many types of surface-to-surface missiles like the Shahab-1/2, Khalij Fars, Fateh-110, Sejil and Qiam by the IRGC. This is the latest in the series of 'Great Prophet' wargames which often involve large-scale exercises by the IRGC that often vary in type of training, from coastal defence to special forces deployment to missile testing.

Pictures of the exercise have yet to come in, but the trend with previous exercises indicates that they will be posted online eventually. However the timing of this announcement was also paired with the announcement that Iran was deploying ballistic missiles in underground silo launch facilities. More importantly, this announcement was paired with a video tour of the facility, a remarkable insight!

Youtube Video (In Persian): http://youtu.be/oKPjXp7u6VI
Article and Screenshots (In Persian): http://www.militaryparsi.ir/news-service/160-news/533-irannews.html

Previously, it has been hypothesized that Iran had deployed missiles in silos due to overhead imagery courtesy of google earth. The most well know potential facility is located south, south-west of the city of Tabriz and was was first uncovered in the open-source community (to the best of my knowledge) by, friend of the Arkenstone, Sean O'Conner at "IMINT&Analysis". Unfortunately the original article is no longer accessible but a description of the facility can be found on Wikimapia.

A second class of underground facilities can be found missile storage compounds across the country, from Kermanshah, to Khorromabad, to possibly Isfahan. These do not have the characteristic qualities of the other silos but are associated with missile storage and hardened underground construction, so it's not out of the question. An example of this imagery from the city of Kermanshah can be found on this blog. However there is no consensus on these structures identity as of yet.

According to the video, Iran reportedly has had this capability for 15 years - since 1996.


However, the identity of the site shown in the video is unknown. The reporter is flown out of Tehran in a Lockheed L-1329 Jetstar VIP transport aircraft with blocked out windows - the first visual indicator of heightened security. The flight, according to the video, takes 1.5 hours which could put it pretty much anywhere along the western border depending on any number of things including airspeed, route taken, altitude flown, etc.

Once the plane touches down, the tight security continues as the reporter is ushered into a windowless van and driven some distance on a rather bumpy road. It's worth noting that the van is equipped not just with a TV and padded seats, but with some of the most bizarre pieces art I've ever seen painted on a military vehicle - a pastoral scene with many different varieties of flowers.

The van drives right up to the doorway of the underground facility before the reporter is allowed to disembark, another indicator of high operational-security. One notable feature however is the presence of camouflage netting on the above-ground building which indicates some effort at concealment. This assertion is backed up by the fact that the actual entranceway into the facility is rather mundane. It's a single case of spiral-stairway descending from a simple doorway directly into the main hallway without so much as a checkpoint, metal detector, or blast door.


After descending the main staircase, the reporter and his escort are deposited directly in the main hallway which is lined with painted murals and brightly lit by flourescent lights. The hallway slightly slopes downward, continuing for probably around 75-100 m (estimate) when it takes a gentle turn to the left and slopes down further.

The video then cuts to a shot of them walking down a stair-case which may or may not start from where the hallway mentioned above disappears from view. At the bottom of the stair-case is a landing with a very interesting picture on display. The picture is of a team of IRGC soldiers fuelling a missile during the Iran-Iraq war, but because of a fouled mechanism the soldiers are having the fuel the missile with nothing more then a bucket; a task I'm certainly not envious of.

Immediately adjacent to this landing on the left-hand-side is a large blast door leading into the actual silo itself. The silo houses a Shahab-3A missile though the silo is notably wider and taller then the Shahab-3 stationed in it which indicates the possibility that the silo has been built with future expansion in mind. This is supported by a brief mention in the MilitaryParsi article above though it's unclear if this is official information or pure speculation.

The Shahab-3 is stored in a vertical position, connected to controls by various umbilicals. This style is normal for ready-launch silos as compared to some of the earliest hardened missile shelters in which the missile still had to be prepared for launch.

Also shown is test footage which shows a Shahab-3 being fired from an underground silo. However, certain indicators point to it taking place at another facility, or at least another location then the silo toured. The initial boosting of the missile out of the silo shows that the underground facility in the test is far more spacious with the entire space around the missile pad hollowed out. It's also worth noting that in the small second we got an area shot of the silo doors, the surrounding area looked like it was not significantly built-up which in turn increases the possibility that it's a camouflaged facility.


While the purely technical value of this development shouldn't be excluded from discussion about these silos, far more important in my opinion is the strategic value from such a confirmation.


This is primarily because no non-nuclear country that I know of deploys silo-based ballistic missiles, the implicit point being that this indicates Iran was working on, or is now working on a nuclear weapons program. The logic behind such a statement being that silos aren't useful on the conventional battlefield. It's static nature means that they'll never be able to manoeuvre to bring targets within range or to evade air assets tasked with their destruction. The last one is particularly important; while a successfully disguised silo base would be able to fire at least a salvo of missiles before being detected they would be prime targets after that and it's unlikely a large base could reliably manage to conceal itself against all forms of surveillance. Furthermore, the costs invested into a full-time facility complete with staff and construction costs would be far greater then even a great number of TELs and with a limited potential rate of fire and inability to resist bunker-busting PGM strikes after detection, it would be unlikely that the high initial cost would ever be offset in a conventional conflict. The primary advantages of using a silo-based system, which is near-immediate reaction time, is nullified in most cases in a conventional war because it is unlikely that the time saved, up to a couple hours would prove decisive, especially when comparing them to mobile TELs and the likely disciplined training that IRGC missile units go through.

These advantages, rapid reaction and survivability however become much more important when talking about them in context of nuclear weapons because both are needed in order to ensure a 2nd strike capability.

However, this is Iran we're talking about which means that applying the template of cold war missile politics to Iran might not work. Iran is known to use long-range missiles (like the Shahab-3) in a conventional role as a strategic weapon all by itself. This does present a scenario for the use of conventional warheads. However this alone seems a weak explanation as there no credible explanation for why silos are being used instead of TELs.

One overlooked explanation might be that they're legacy facilities being used for no other purpose then because the cost is already sunk into construction, there's no reason not to. This theory looks particularly attractive if they are in fact, 15 years old. Piggybacking on this, if we believe the 2007 NIE report which asserted that Iran had a nuclear program pre-2003, these 15-year old silos may hail from a time when Iran actually did intend to fill these silos with nuclear missiles.

In any of my Persian speaking readers catch anything in the video that is worth posting about that I missed, please don't hesitate to mention it in the comments below.

Comments on the missile exercises themselves coming later...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Devil We Know

When Robert Baer wrote "The Devil We Know", a book on the emergence of a modern Iranian "superpower", the Iran he spoke of was seemingly unshakable; the reformists had been shoved out, ending their decade long tenuous hold on power, and in their place had emerged a new breed of conservative. President Ahmadinejad, allied with the traditional clerical elites led the charge and Iran became Public Enemy No. 1 for much of the Western world (irrespective of which side deserves the blame for that belief).

However today, this same conservative bastion is being shaken. Ahmadinejad has split from the traditional conservatives and even challenged the supreme leader, a previously unquestionable authority who sat above the everyday fray of day-to-day politics. Ahmadinejad and his allies are proposing a fundamentally revolutionary change in the nature of the Islamic Republic, shifting true power from the clerics and the 'old guard' to entities that are far more secular and belong to his band of 'new guard' conservatives who haven't earned their credentials studying in seminaries in Qom, but on the battlefields of the Iran-Iraq war and modern-day business world.

Vali Nasr, author of The Shia Revival, has recently written an article for Foreign Policy Magazine where he explores this further and examines the risks should Ahmadinejad triumph and his vision for a future Iran take hold.

Showdown in Tehran - Vali Nasr - Foreign Policy

At the basic level, Vali Nasr is posing us the question: "Which would be better, the devil we know - an Islamic theocracy or a more secular, possibly more militant Iran - the devil we don't?

Nasr concludes that the international community, as well as the Iranian people should hope for a continuance of the status quo and the political death of the "Deviationists" as Ahmadinejad's political faction has come to be known. He bases his conclusions on two main points.

1) An empowered Ahmadinejad means increasing power of the IRGC in political life which would correspond to greater militarization and increased authoritarian characteristics.

2) The demise of the traditional clerical theocracy is inevitable absent a shake-up by the Deviationists because of of the will of the people who desire a more liberal system.

These are both flawed assumptions, (though both do have a kernel of truth) but to understand why we have to understand how the Iranian political arena functions. Contrary to many peoples initial perceptions of Iran as an authoritarian state, the politics of the Islamic Republic is actually characterized by extreme competition between different groups. (1) In fact, the best way to describe the political sphere is to say that it is comprised of an always shifting web of factions, persons, and revolves around their attempt to gain power and influence within the constraints of the framework of the Islamic Republic. (2) Each move made by a politician is made with the primary understanding that it will have domestic repercussions. In this manner, they are not unlike the US which frequently uses matters of foreign policy to drive tactical political gains (ex: New START and the Iraq/Afghanistan wars).

Politics with the Islamic Republic has largely followed a cyclical trend, first in power were the Khomeneist clergy who were swept up by the revolution where they held on until the early '90s when the moderates and pragmatists replaced them. But this camp was hamstrung by the institutional nature of the government which was organized to make change extremely difficult, but obstruction very easy. After the turn of the century a new breed of conservatives emerged who were younger and more-often-then-not came from the IRGC, not Qom. This group however is by no means monolithic and includes a wide range of figures from Ahmadinejad to Larijani to Rezai.

This brings us to the nature of the Deviationists and what their vision of Iran might look like. For the most part, I agree with Vali Nasser's description of Ahmadinejad and his close allies when he says their defining feature was: "...combining religious fundamentalism with Iranian nationalism and economic populism" (3) The Deviationists see a reduced role of the clergy in national government which isn't surprising given that the political movement is largely independent of the traditional religious hierarchies. While Ahmadinejad is manoeuvring to bring the religious aspects of the government more firmly under control of the state, it is almost inevitable that undercutting traditional hierarchies will result in a decentralization of religious power, no matter how much Ahmadinejad would try and retain for himself.

However Vali Nasr ignores a critical fact about the Iranian political system, which is that Ahmadinejad overturning the fundamental make-up of the system doesn't necessarily mean that Ahmadinejad will be the end state in the post-Supreme Leader world. I mentioned earlier that Iran is best described as factions competing within a framework; the impact of the secularization of the state is that that this framework is removed. The competition continues without the presence of the supreme leader to exercise his will which has been so often the impediment to legitimate change (as happened to Khatami). While it doesn't guarantee this outcome by any means, in fact it could result in even worse scenarios playing out, it does create a space for a more productive political solution to arise, space that would be completely absent otherwise.


But let's be honest, Ahmadinejad and his political allies are in a very bad place right now. Much of the influential leaders in the IRGC have sided with Khamenei along with many pragmatic conservatives who Ahmadinejad would have counted as allies. Meanwhile, the supreme leader has beaten the president in many of the recent battles over ministry appointments which serve as focal points for their struggle. It's unlikely as of this writing that Ahmadinejad will be able to manage a total victory.

So what does this mean for the Islamic Republic? Vali Nasr asserts that the establishment is a ticking time bomb which will soon crumble under it's own weight. While he doesn't directly write it, he insinuates that the successor to the system will be the liberal reformist camp which gained notoriety in the challenging of the 2009 presidential election.

As a firm believer in liberal realism, free-trade and democratic governance I must confess to be attracted by this notion that Iran could be a modern nation-state no longer at the peripheries in isolation. But like all good dreams, the fantasy has to end sometime and the truth is that for good or bad the majority of Iranians just don't support this vision, at least if public polls taken after the 2009 elections are any indicator.

According to the most recent Charney Research poll taken in 2010: (4)
- The majority of the populace supported Ahmadinejad (~60% of the electorate)
- The majority (59%) approved of the post-election crackdown
- A minority (32%) say that Iran needs more freedoms and democracy while a majority (51%) says Iran needs more controls to protect Islam.
- 47% believe the Supreme leader should make the final decisions in government as opposed to 32% who favor elected bodies. 
- The population is split relatively evenly on the performance of the government

Assuming the results are representative of the Iranian populace at large, (it appears that they are) this at best indicates that there is no clear consensus over the future of the Islamic Republic while at worst indicates that there's strong support for the status quo. The bottom line here is that while we in the west might be attracted by the idea of liberal revolutions, we can't forget that these are often quite often illusions designed to appeal to just this attraction. (5)

As this piece winds to a close, I would normally attempt to draw some conclusions about which path Americans should hope Iran takes in the continuing struggle but I'll refrain from doing so here because, quite frankly, no one knows. That's the core conundrum with the question "which is better, the devil you know, or the devil you don't?" In this case the answer is no more clear. The devil we know has unquestionably played a key role the 30 years of hostile relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the United States. There's no question that it's an undesirable scenario because it engenders conflict and hostility. But then again, it is the devil we know; we've managed to live with Iran for 30 years and there is evidence that they are slowly moving incrementaly toward reform and normalization. The devil we don't know presents the real risks and opportunities but as always, we'll never truly know which should have happened or should happen because there will always be the opportunity cost that precludes the other. 

Here's to hoping for a good ending whatever it is. 

Footers and Works Cited
(1) Whether or not these processes are always entirely transparent and legitimate is another matter, but for our purposes irrelevant to the question of the competition between different groups for political power.
(2) Mullahs, Guards and Bonyads. Thaler et al. RAND. 2010.
(3) Showdown in Tehran. Vali Nasr. FP Magazine. June 2011.Link above.
(4) http://www.docstoc.com/docs/65872019/Iran-Public-Opinion-2010
(5) A good anologue is the counter-culture movement in the US during the 1960s. They dominated national discourse but were only represented a minority opinion.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Big Showing During Khamenei's Visit to Defense Exhibition

The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ali Khamenei,  paid a four-hour long visit to an exhibition featuring products of defence industry of Iran. While the news agencies predictably focused on the Supreme Leader in their photo galleries of the event, the real treasure trove of information was to be found in the background of many of these pictures.

Story: IRNA
Complete Photo Gallery: Leader.ir

Let's see what's on display!

(Leader.ir)
Here we have an Akhgar multi-barrel machine-gun set up on a tripod derived from the TOW ATGM. Iran apparently uses this tripod for a number of systems besides the ATGM because it has also been seen with a surveillance system (IRLRSP). It's unusual to see a rotary barrel gun like the Akhgar mounted as a static weapon in this manner but it's likely just a display model.




(Leader.ir)
This truck is built by the Self-Sufficiency Jihad Group. Unfortunately this model can not be discerned though it most likely belongs to the <5 ton class. It bears somewhat of a similarity to the 1 1/4 ton class truck.





(Leader.ir)
The Shahed 285 was also on display. While the photographer was obviously focused on Khamenei, he managed to catch a reflection off the right hand side of the canopy which shows the weapons pylon and what appears to be a SUU-11/A gunpod which houses the 7.62 mm GAU-2/M134. Both the IIAA/IIN as well as the IRIAA/IRIN used these gunpods but post-revolution there has been a lack of evidence indicating their continued use. This reappearance on the Shahed 285 may coincide with the production of the Akhgar, but it may also be coincidence.


(Leader.ir)
This is a rather interesting MLRS. The barrels are most likely of the 122 mm variety and appear to be somewhat skewed or improperly aligned. The rear of the bank also appear to be shrouded in a metal case. Given the general color and styling of the components, this may be the rear end of the truck mentioned above. Alternately, it may also be the truck behind the MLRS in the photo, or it may be neither. (See comments below for additional speculation)



 One of the bigger surprises of the show came with this shot. Here again it appears that the photographer focused on the attending personnel and only caught the front left corner of this previously unknown armoured vehicle.

(Leader.ir)
While we can tell very little from this picture, it does show the 125 mm 2A46M main gun that Iran produces under the name HM-50 which is used in both the T-72S as well as the Zulfiqar-3. The track links and track pads are also the same ones used on the Zulfiqar, although these are derived from the M-60A1.

But the most interesting feature of this AFV is definitely the unique shape of the front portion of the hull. While most tanks have a "sideways-V" shaped glacis, this tank has an almost entirely flat upper glacis. There is also what appears to be a bolt-on piece of applique steel on top of the hull with a rather odd texture.

At this stage, one can only guess at what the exact nature armoured vehicle could be.

Also note in the far background, is the F-14A display which gives an alternate view of the C-802K and the other white and black pod.


(Leader.ir)
Here we see an interior shot of the Samandar tactical vehicle and the Ranger tactical vehicle in the background.







(Leader.ir)
This is a TOW ATGM training aide. The controls are connected to a projector which displays the digitally rendered scenario on a wall.







(Leader.ir)
Here are two different types of unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV). It is unclear if the first one is a scale model or not but it appears to be somewhat bio-mimetic, meaning it is designed to function like an animal rather then a machine. While it uses a propeller for propulsion, the stabilizing surfaces are definitely designed to work like a shark's.



(Leader.ir)
Another design is more bio-mimetic, using an articulated tail-fin to swim like a fish. The poster behind it identifies it as a "Micro-underwater vehicle (MUV)" Another poster most likely displays the specifications and other information, but the only passage that can be read indicates that the development took 13 months.



(Leader.ir)
A number or air defence radars were also shown. This one shows a trailer-mounted VHF surveillance radar similar to the P-18 "Spoon Rest". Unlike the P-18 which has 18 antenna in two banks of 8, this radar has 12 antenna in banks of 6 (see comments below)and the antenna themselves have a slightly different design then the original P-18. It is built into a shipping container and is mounted on a telescoping mast that can be stowed on the roof of the container.






(Leader.ir)

The "Kashf-2" is also mounted in a shipping container. It closely resembles the "ASR-1 in most ways save for the parabolic dish.








(Leader.ir)
But by far the most eye-catching of the radars shown was undoubtedly this one, pictured on the back of a trailer in the background of this photo. It has been suggested elsewhere that this is the radar mentioned in this announcement by General Vahidi. The logic behind it is that the article mentioned that this new radar will have "6400 elements" and as one can tell, this antenna is indeed made up of about 6400 square elements (by my count, each half has about 3100 squares, but it's easily conceivable that I'm off by 200 or so).


(Leader.ir)
Another big treat during the show was the RPG-29. While this is still the first time the RPG-29 launcher has been publicly seen in Iran, we have recently learned that Iran has produced the rounds for the anti-tank weapon.






(IRIB)
An F-14A was on display with a number of munitions that proved quite suprising. The inclusion of an AIM-54 (far-left) lends credence to the assertion that Iran is domestically producing the long-range missile for their interceptors - a debate that's raged for 30 years. To the right of the AIM-54 is the AN/ALQ-101 ECM pod used since they were first delivered alongside F-4s during the days of the IIAF. Further to the right is the C-802K AShM which up until now had only been associated with the Su-24 and F-4. On the far right is a missile which cannot be identified but appears to be slightly smaller in diameter then the C-802K. It's body has a blue colour and it's fins appear to be highly asymmetrical.

One very odd feature of this display is that it's still painted in it's original desert pattern camouflage that they were delivered in. This is unusual because all of the flying models were believed to have been repainted in the two-tone air superiority blue-grey that they're seen in nowadays.

(Leader.ir)
The "Sahareh" is reportedly an advanced torpedo under development. Not much can be discerned from the poster, but the noticeable lack of a propeller leads one to believe that it's rocket-propelled, possibly a development of the Hoot (which is a copy of the Russian Skhval).




(Leader.ir)
While a large calibre artillery rocket dominates this photo, there is a rather interesting design of rifle in front of Khamenei. It may be a large-calibre anti-material rifle which is missing it's barrel at the moment. Also of note is the scope adjacent to the rifle which bears many similarities to the Barrett BOR.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Iran's Indigenous Precision Guided Munitions

***This is an updated version of an earlier piece***
 
Iran's Indigenous Precision Guided Munitions

Zoobin (AGM-379)
The Zoobin (Arrow/Dart/Javelin) belongs to the first generation of Iranian PGMs that also includes the Qadr. The missile was first publicly seen in 2002 and since then a mockup has been a common site during various military parades in Tehran. (1)
Early versions of the Zoobin without the distinctive mid-body swept wings (Source Unknown)

The missile is built around the 750 lb (343 kg) M117 general purpose bomb which forms the middle section of the missile. Four large wings in a cruciform pattern are bolted to the warhead, attaching it to the rocket motor.

The solid-fuel rocket motor at the rear of the missile is designated the M116 which matches the pattern of US rocket motor designation (for instance, the HAWK SAM motor is the M112) but no known exact designation. (2) There are four small aerodynamic control surfaces, also in a cruciform pattern, mounted on the motor, which are connected to the guidance unit at the front of the missile via control lines running along the body.
Zoobin (M-ATF)

The guidance unit at the front of the missile contains a daylight TV seeker that bears a close resemblance to the seeker on the AGM-65A Maverick also used by the IRIAF.Besides the physical resemblance, the optical-seeker's connection to the AGM-65A is betrayed by it's 5-degree FOV which was enlarged on later AGM-65 models. (3) One difference found on the Zoobin however is that the section that houses the missile electronics is noticeably longer then on the AGM-65A though the exact implication for this is unknown at this point.

The choice of the AGM-65A seeker for a long-range, rocket-powered weapon like the Zoobin is a troubling choice because the seeker's sensitivity is such that it can only lock onto a target at around 5 km. (4) One way to get around this would be to use some sort of optical targeting pod to designate the target. It would also be presumptuous to assume that Iran hasn't modified the seeker to work at the longer ranges involved.

The operational status of this PGM is unknown. It is asserted by some that the missile entered service in the mid to late 1990s. (5) There is the possibility however that like many other IRIAF projects it was tested on several aircraft but then was abandoned. If it was deployed, it would be carried by the F-4

Specifications: AGM-679/20 (6)
Length: 3.18 m
Diameter: 40.6 cm
Wing Span: 1.23 m
Warhead Weight: 340 kg HE
Total Weight: 560 kg
Minimum Range: 20 km (7)


Qadr (GBU-67)
Belonging to the same generation as the Zoobin, the Qadr (Force) is an unpowered glide bomb. Like the Zoobin, it was developed during the Iran-Iraq war but was first seen publicly in 2002. (8) It likely traces it's lineage to the US's GBU-8 HOBOS which Iran imported in extremely small numbers in the waning days of the IIAF. (9)
Qadr (M-ATF)

Like the GBU-8, four strakes run the length of the Mk. 84 bomb broadening out near the rear of the bomb. The Qadr uses the same guidance payload as the Zoobin which is connected to the four control surfaces at the rear of the bomb via a conduit running alongside the outside of the missile. (see above for a detailed description of the seeker)
Qadr TV-Seeker (Source Unknown, possibly Jane's)

It can be carried by both the F-4E as well as the F-5E/F. (10) Like the Zoobin, the status of this project is unknown and it may or may not be deployed. It's possible that this project has been supplanted by the Qassed which is also a TV-guidance kit for the 2,000 lb Mk. 84.

Specifications: GBU-67/9A (11)
Length: 4.11 m
Diameter: 45.7 cm
Wing Span: 111.8 cm
Total Weight: 1,111 kg
Max Range: 20-60 km (12)
Guidance: TV

Qassed-1 (GBU-78)
The Qassed (Herald/Messenger)is one of the more recent developments in Iranian precision guided munitions; it was first mentioned in 2006 when then-DM Najjar discussed the development of a "2,000 lb smart bomb" that would be tested in the upcoming Blow of Zolfaqar wargames. (13) Apparently the testing went well because one year later the defense minister inaugurated the production line of the Qassed alongside production of additional small arms ammunition. (14) Because it is an optical-guidance kit for the Mk. 84 the Qassed may be the replacement for the Qadr/GBU-67. This isn't surprising given the Qassed's uncanny resemblance to the GBU-15(V)1B which itself was the successor to the GBU-8.
Qassed-1/GBU-78/A (Sejil.ir)

Qassed seeker (Fars News)
The Qassed is built around the Mk. 84 general-purpose bomb and features four large "long-chord" wings in a cruciform pattern connecting the Mk.84 to the control portion at the rear of the bomb which features aerodynamic control surfaces similar to the Qadr. Four strakes in the same configuration as the wings bridge the gap between the Mk.84 and the guidance section at the front of the bomb.


...and seeker picture

The guidance section appears to be the same as that found on the Qadr and Zoobin, that is, taken from the AGM-65A. While Iran may have made unknown modifications to it, the glass dome cover indicates that it still retains daylight-only capability rather then infrared which would require a dome cover made of exotic materials. 

Compared with the Qadr and Zooban, we can say with a much greater degree of certainty that the Qassed is actually being produced and deployed. During the testing of the weapon we saw it being deployed from the F-4E which was able to carry two of the weapons, one on each inner wing pylon. While the F-4E might have a greater overall capacity then this, this configuration is likely to be the practical limit in any given scenario.

Qassed being deployed from an F-4E


Qassed-2
A development of the Qassed-1, the Qassed-2 was first referenced in Spring 2010 when Air Force commander Shahsafi announced plans to test the improved missile. While no concrete details were given, and no pictures have yet been seen, the missile was advertised as featuring " longer range, more accuracy and enjoys more explosive power than its previous version."(15) Unfortunately these types of claims are commonplace in just about every new weapons announcement from rifles to ballistic missiles so they should not be taken as providing any unique insight onto the weapons performance.

Qassed-3
The Qassed-3 represents the next major evolution of the Qassed platform; it was first seen during the Sacred Defence Week 2010 parade and then later referenced by the Deputy Commander of the IRIAF, General Aziz Nasirzadeh when he described it as being in the testing phase as of February 2011. (16) It is very similar to the US's AGM-130 which itself was a development of the GBU-15.

Qassed 3 (M-ATF)
The most important change from the original Qassed is the addition of a strap-on solid rocket booster to extend the range of the system. This feature is of course what differentiates the AGM-130 from the GBU-15. Unfortunately, the exact designation of the Qassed-3 remains unknown.

The next most significant change is that it may not be built around the Mk.84 warhead like the Qassed-1. While the difference is minor, the shaping of the bomb may indicate that at least one version of the Qassed-3 may use a penetrator rather then a general purpose bomb in the same way the AGM-130A uses the Mk.84 and the AGM-130C uses the BLU-109. This is visible in the slightly narrower body of the Qassed-3 and the way the slightly-oval warhead tapers into parallel lines before the point where it happens on the Qassed-1.  However, at this stage, the evidence is still far from definitive and further research must be done.

The seeker at the front of the warhead appears to be the same as on the other versions - a daylight TV camera derived from the AGM-65A. Unlike the others however which we can say may have been modified or supplemented in some way it would be impossible for this missile to function without some form of supplementary guidance. It's extreme range (for comparison, the AGM-130 has a range of around 65 km) means that some type of inertial navigation system would have to be used before the TV seeker could be engaged. A data-link would also enable the WSO to fly the missile before selecting a final target with the TV seeker. (17)

Assuming the missile was still being tested as of early 2011, it will still be some time before this weapon is fielded with Iran's fleet of F-4s.

Sattar-1
The Sattar-1 (Star) is the first in Iran's family of indigenously developed laser-guided bombs and missiles. Oddly enough, it was not developed from the first laser-guided weapons that Iran ever received, the GBU-10. Instead it traces its history to the French AS-30L which Iran would have received in the several plane-loads full of spares and weapons that fled Iraq to escape the onslaught of US airpower in 1991.It is seen very rarely with the designation "Asre-67".
Sattar-1 (M-ATF)

Physically the missile is vaguely reminiscent of the AGM-65 crossed with the AIM-54. At the front of the missile is a semi-active laser homing (SALH) seeker derived from the AS-30L. (18) Behind the missile guidance section are four large cropped-delta wings also reminiscent of the AS-30L. Finally, at the tail-end of the missile is the solid-fuel rocket engine and four control surfaces mounted in the same cruciform pattern as the wings.

The model most often displayed to the public does not appear to be the final version of the missile. The Sattar-1C has a slightly different appearance though it's unclear in exactly what way the missile has been changed. (19)
Sattar-"1C" (Source Unknown)

The missile was reported to have entered production in 1999 and can be carried by both the F-4 and F-5. (20)


Specifications: Sattar-1 (21)
Length: 2.5 m
Diameter: 30 cm
Weight: 210 kg
Warhead: 55 kg HE
Range: 20 km


Sattar-2
Possible design prototype for the Sattar-3. Only external difference between it and the Sattar-3 is a slightly shorter rocket engine.
Sattar-2 (Source Unknown)


Sattar-3
The most frequently seen of the entire Sattar family, this missile is often seen on parades and static display. It is occasionally labelled with the designation "Asre-67". It is unclear the significance of this; one explanation would be that one is Iran's conventional designation and that the other is for development or external sale. Or then again, perhaps it's only to meant to confuse.
Asre-67, aka Sattar-3 (Sejil.ir)

Unlike the Sattar-1, the wings on the Sattar-3 have been shortened considerably and moved to the rear of the missile, though the still retain the cropped-delta configuration. The control surfaces have been shifted from the rear to the front of the missile. The missiles rocket engine, meanwhile, has been lengthened.

The SALH seeker now features a gimbaled head that closely resembles the Paveway-2 family and the KAB-1500L, and may even be influenced by them. (22) The missile is most commonly displayed alongside the "TLS-99" laser-targeting pod which is thought to be derived from the French ATLIS-II, which makes logical sense if Iran recieved them alongside the AS-30L. (23) It is rumored that the missile has also been tested with an optical seeker. While no confirmation can be given of this it's not all that unusual to make a single missile with multiple types of seekers (the KAB-1500 is one example of this). (24) Judging from other bombs in the class, the CEP of the Sattar-3 would probably be under 10 m.
TLS-99 laser designator (M-ATF)

The operational status of this missile is unknown.


Specifications: Sattar-3
Weight: "500 lb" (25) 
Range: 30 km (26)


Sattar-??
First displayed during Sacred Defense Week 2010, this mystery Sattar resembles the KAB-250L as well as, to a lesser degree, the GBU-12.
Latest version of the Sattar (Far right) (M-ATF)

Unlike the earlier Sattar series, this model appears to be a bomb-kit for the Mk.82 similar to the Paveway bombs rather then the purpose-made Soviet/Russian LGBs. The guidance section at the front of the bomb/missile is substantially narrower then that found on either the Sattar-1 or Sattar-3. Four trapazoidal fins are mounted on what is possibly a rocket motor (an assumption stemming from the fact that all earlier Sattars are missiles rather then glide bombs).

Kite
The "Kite" is a stand-off sub-munitions dispenser similar in function to the German BK-90.

Both versions of the Kite (M-ATF)
There are two known versions of the dispenser, one with 172 bomblets, and one with 184. Both fire combined AP/AT munitions.

Stand-off capability is provided by four glide wings and a rocket engine. Rather then using a terminal seeker like the other PGMs, the Kite relies on GPS-INS to bring it over it's target. (27)

The Kite can be carried by both the F-4 and the F-5 (28)
Kites mounted on an F-4

Specifications: Kite (29)
Range: 15 km


End Notes and Works Cited:
(1) Jane's Information Group. http://articles.janes.com/articles/Janes-Air-Launched-Weapons/Zoobin-AGM-379-20-and-Yasser-Iran.html
(2) History of the Missiles of Iran - 4. Saff Magazine. No. 357. p.46
(3) ibd Saff Magazine. Readers fluent in Persian are encouraged to review this passage as my understanding of Persian is rudimentary at best and Google Translate leaves much to be desired, thus the comparison to the A-model may or may not be misplaced.
(4) F-16 Net. http://www.f-16.net/f-16_armament_article4.html (Note: readers are encouraged to visit this site for a description of how the launch process works for the AGM-65 which would also describe the process for a weapon like the Zoobin)
(5) Iranian PGMs. ACIG Forum. September 17th 2007.
(6) ibd Saff Magazine
(7) Although it is listed as the "minimum range", it's most likely that this refers to the maximum range.
(8) Jane's Information Group. http://articles.janes.com/articles/Janes-Air-Launched-Weapons/Qadr-Iran.html
(9) Iran-Iraq War in the Air 1980-1988. Tom Cooper and Farzad Bishop. Schiffer Military History. 2000. P. 29
(10) ibd Saff Magazine
(11) ibd Saff Magazine
(12) The reported range of 20-60 km is rather unusual since it is an un-powered glide bomb. While an extremely high altitude release could extend the range, 60 km is still rather exceptional given that the GBU-15 (roughly in the same class as the GBU-67) has a range of 15 km when deployed from high altitude.
(13) Iran Builds 2,000-pound Guided Bomb: Minister. Mehr News. September 6th 2006. http://www.mehrnews.com/en/NewsDetail.aspx?NewsID=377194
(14) Fars News Photo Gallery. http://www.farsnews.com/imgrep.php?nn=8606040499
(15) Iran Says New Guided Bomb Ready for Test. PressTV. March 1st 2010. http://edition.presstv.ir/detail/119775.html
(16) Iran's Air Force Upgrades Home-Made Smart Bomb. Fars News. February 3rd 2011. http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8911140588
(17) Boeing (Rockwell) AGM-130. Designation Systems. 2004. http://www.designation-systems.net/dusrm/m-130.html (Note: readers are encouraged to visit this site for a description of how the launch process works for the AGM-130 which sheds some light on the various ways the Qassed-3 may differ from it's predecessors)
(18) ibd Saff Magazine
(19) ibd ACIG Forums
(20) ibd Saff Magazine
(21) ibd Saff Magazine
(22) ibd Saff Magazine
(23) ibd ACIG Forums
(24) ibd Saff Magazine
(25) Placards on parade label the Sattar-3 as a 500-lb class bomb. Of course, like all 250, 500, 1000 and 2,000 lb bombs, these designations are approximate and their weight can vary by the low tens-of-kg.
(26) ibd Saff Magazine
(27) ibd Saff Magazine

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

News - North Korea's New SAM

- South Korea announced that their Northern counterparts recently tested the new "KN-06" SAM which is related to the S-300. The missiles are reported to have a range of 150 km and are launched vertically from clusters of two or three.

The obvious question for this blog, given Iran's close relationship with North Korea in the past, is whether or not the KN-06 is related to Iran's continuing work in producing their own domestic S-300 variant. Obviously only time will tell, but it's something that both Iran and North Korea watchers should keep their eyes open to.

Source: The Chosunilbo

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

News - Iranian Navy Deploys Submarines in High Seas - FNA

Iranian Navy Deploys Submarines in High Seas
TEHRAN (FNA)- Informed sources said that the Iranian Navy has deployed its submarines in far seas as part of its plan for widening its naval presence in the high seas and oceans.

An informed source told FNA on Tuesday that the submarines were deployed in international waters together with the dispatch of 14th fleet of warships sent by Iran to the high seas.

The move comes after high-ranking Navy commanders announced preparedness to send submarines to long-term missions.
Article Continues at FN 


Iran has been sending naval missions to the Gulf of Aden for quite some time (as the article mentions, they're up to their 14th journey). Up until now however they've usually been restricted to consisting of a warship like the Alvand-class frigates, and a resupply ship like the Kharq. The IRGCN also have an unknown presence conducting anti-piracy operations as well.

There have even been reports of Iranian submarines in the Red Sea / Gulf of Aden before; various newspapers and political groups accused Iran of establishing a military base near the city of Assab in 2008/2009. I even wrote about it in the piece "Iran's Military Relationship with Eritrea" where I concluded that this news story was probably fabricated due to the sources for the claims. However there still remained some tantalizing hints that indicated that it might not be entirely false. The most prominent of which is Google Earth imagery which shows the construction of a large pier (larger then anything in the Eritrean navy) north of the city of Assab (13.218256, 42.527420) in 2007 and it has been speculated that this is the Iranian naval base talked about in the reports.

Regardless of whether or not this base exists, this news report seems to have some credibility because it comes not from an opposition source who have a vested interest in threat-construction but from the "semi-official" (read: official) Fars News Agency. Assuming this is true the most likely canidate is one of the Kilo class submarines Iran purchased from Russia during the 1990s. Since the Persian Gulf is so shallow, large submarines like the Kilo are unusually handicapped so getting them into deeper waters would actually make much better use of their abilities. Though by comparison, these Kilos are not state-of-the-art when compared to Western navies submarines. Iran has a total of three Kilos, one of them is in drydock while two appear to be sea-worthy though one would likely be retained in port for a contingency (if the relative size of previous fleets are anything to go by). Iran's other submarines like the Ghadir are all too short ranged to either get to the Gulf of Aden under their own power, or once they're there, have much of an effect.

The stated goal, according to FNA's source is "Identifying combat vessels of the different world countries, collecting information about sea beds in international waters are among the main tasks of these submarines". This somewhat surprising since it explicitly acknowledges that the goal of this operation isn't anti-piracy work, but directly spying on other nations. This is a common practice across the world but it's odd to see it admitted in such honest terms. The secondary goal of collecting information about sea geography may be perfectly innocent or it may serve a military purpose if Iran did intend to operate in this theatre in the event of a conflict.

Operating in the Gulf of Aden would give Iran a chance to shadow US/NATO/Other warships, gaining insights into how the ships behave when in a warzone (even a low intensity one like Somalia piracy). It also gives Iran a chance to further project their power beyond their immediate region and submarines can play a crucial role in maintaining far-off projection capability.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Shahed 285

Shahed 285 (AH-85)

The Shahed-285 is a light-attack/observation helicopter designed by the Shahed Aviation Industries Research Center (SAIRC), a subset of the Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company (http://thearkenstone.blogspot.com/HESA), in cooperation with the Revolutionary Guards.


AH-85A (Mashregh News)

Role:
The Shahed 285 has obviously been designed as a "budget" helicopter, almost everything about it is cheap and easy to produce; this necessarily has it's trade-offs and isn't inherently a good or a bad approach. According to reports by Mashregh News, the AH-85 is tasked with scouting out enemy locations and because of their light armor and high speed, attack targets of opportunity. (1) The underlying implication here is that it's not meant to replace the AH-1, it's meant to supplement them in the same way OH-58s supplement AH-64s in the US Army. 

Development:
Zafar-300 at the Tehran Aviation Museum (Vahid Moghadem)
The Shahed 285 is part of the continuing evolution of the AB-206 platform and belongs to the same family as the Shahed 278 and 274. The conceptual predecessor to the AH-85 is the Zafar-300 helicopter which first emerged in 1986/1987 and was involved in testing up through 1990. Also based on the AB-206, the Zafar featured tandem seating, a slimmed down profile, and aluminum and fiberglass construction. (2) However development apparently stopped soon afterwords and the Zafar-300 prototype has resided in the Tehran Aviation Museum in a state of disrepair ever since. 

Meanwhile during the late 1990s and early 2000s Iran's own reverse-engineered AB-206, the Shahed 278, was maturing and by the early 2000s a handful has been produced. It's clear that sometime during this process that the thought turned toward arming it because Jane's reported that in 2005 Iran had tested the "OH-78". Unfortunately at this point it gets somewhat confusing. Jane's reports that the helicopter in question is a light recon helicopter converted from the second protype Shahed 278. It is powered by the Allison 250-C20 and is armed with a chin-mounted 7.62 mm machine-gun and 70 mm rockets. Most notably of all perhaps though is that Iran claimed they were using thermal optronics from the French company "Saqem" which provides the imaging capability for the Eurocopter Tiger. Moreoever, they claimed to be producing them in Iran! (3)

Jane's also reported that Iran was also developing another helicopter, the Shahed 478 which would feature four slightly longer rotor blades and a more powerful 250-C30R engine procured legally through Canada. This meant that it would now have a gros weight of 2,040 kg and be able to carry 1,000 kg worth of weaponry. Jane's also reported a drawing of the new helicopter which the author describes as showing C-704/Nasr missiles. (4)

Both of these projects sound very similar to the Shahed 285 concept and there are several explanations that might explain this similarity:

Supposed OH-78
1) Jane's got it a little confused - The article includes a picture of the supposed OH-78 which shows it as a Shahed 278 with wing stubs and rocket pods. This makes sense given the assertion that the OH-78 was developed from a pre-existing 278 airframe. However given that the helicopter in the image is lacking either a machine-gun or optical payload it may simply be a stock photo of a Shahed 278 that the Jane's reporter assumed was the helicopter in question.

2) The Shahed 285 was the culmination of the OH-78 and 478 - In the same way the final version of the Shahed 278 was preceded by a couple different Bell 206 reverse-engineering attempts, it's entirely possible that the AH-85 simply represents the final design path chosen by the engineers for reasons that we can only guess at.

3) The Shahed 285 was a forced compromise - Both the OH-78 and Shahed 478 are remarkable in that they both rely on foreign components for critical systems; the OH-78 uses French optics and the 478 uses Canadian engines. It's possible that the relations established pre-2006 broke down and forced Iran to design a helicopter with more modest capabilities that represented a compromise between the lightly armed OH-78 and the more advanced 478. It may also be because the 478 cost too much and the AH-58 represents the budget choice for the IRGC.


The Shahed 285 is notable in that is inferior to the 478 (two versus four rotor blades and without the uprated engine) which indicates a combination of all three might be the most likely possibility. The 285 may very well represent a progression of the OH-78 that evolved in light of the inability or unwillingness to produce the more powerful 478. Thus the final helicopter, while still carrying the 250-C20 engine, has been slimmed down and optimized for the light attack role. 

Finally, in May 2009, two Shahed 285s were unveiled to the public in a ceremony featuring Shahed 278s as well. Then in November 2010 the same two helicopters, albeit in an updated configuration, were shown during the Kish Island trade and air show.

Design:
While it might have originated as a Bell 206, the final AH-85 bears a number of important differences. Most noticeably, the entire fuselage has been given the profile of a traditional attack helicopter by removing the small passenger compartment and position for a second crewman and replacing it with fuel tanks and a small storage area which is contained within a very narrow, vertical-sided body. It is supposedly significantly taller then the Shahed 278 but this cannot be visually verified.

Side-by-side comparison of Shahed 278 and 285 (adapted from Mashregh News)
The removal of the second crewman is a risky move however. It allows savings on cost, weight and size, but also radically reduces situation awareness and ability to reliably engage targets and fly demanding maneuvers (by forcing the operator to act as both pilot and WSO).

The pilot sits recessed in the fuselage unlike the bubble canopy of the Bell 206 which logically translates into reduced viability. The cockpit uses the basic instrumentation configuration from the Shahed 278 though additional controls can be found running along the left and right hand side of the cockpit.

Located directly above the cockpit is a mounting spot for optronic devices like the French FLIR mentioned in conjunction with the OH-78. Low-quality images have confirmed the presence of a device but cannot indicate whether it is the elusive French optics or an indigenous equivalent, perhaps one of IEI's EOG systems. (5)

On top of the fuselage are the distinctive engine air intakes as well as the exhaust outlets which betray the identity Allison 250-C20/C20B engine.

The tailboom section is straight from the Shahed 278 which places the h-stab at the top of the v-stab which forms a "T" shape rather then being located on the tail boom like on the 206.

On the side of the fuselage, about where the passenger doors would be on the 206/278, are two weapons pylons with hard-points for various weapons. 

The body is built of of "non-metallic composite components" which indicates materials like fiberglass, kevlar or other bullet-resistant fabrics, and even some of the lightweight ceramics though latter are exceptionally expensive. (6)

This fact, combined with the flat panels and apparent lack of 90-degree angles have led some to claim that the helicopter is stealthy. While it is true that these types of materials don't reflect radar waves as effectively as metal surfaces, the helicopter still has a number of "stealth-killing" features like exposed rotor blades. landing skids, weapons pylons and V/H-stabs.

Performance:
The Shahed 285 prototypes are powered by the Allison 250-C20 engine while the production models are scheduled to be fitted with the more powerful 250-C20B which can be identified by the air splitter on the intakes for the engine which cannot be seen on the prototypes. Iran has been caught before attempting to import 250-C20-variant engines before so it's unknown what the current level of capacity is for indigenous production of the engine components. (7)
Air-splitter an an AB-206B (right) versus an AH-85A (left)

This drives a main rotor assembly taken from the Shahed 285 as well as a tail rotor.

With regards to performance, the helicopter falls in the middle of the road with most of it's specifications like service ceiling and cruising speed resembling the Bell 206 It does have an above average range though, thanks in part to the one-man crew which allows it to carry additional fuel.

Importing the drive system directly from the Shahed 278 rather then going with the more powerful one planned for the Shahed 478 (or something comparable) was easy enough and has real short and long term cost cutting benefits, but it also means reduced potential performance and an increased radar signature.

Armament:
As a light attack helicopter, the Shahed 285 carries a modest armament for self-defense and targets of opportunity. There are several different configurations which generally correspond to the helicopters sub-variant.

AH-85 - note the exposed gun and EO payload (Mohammed Hussain)
The light AH-85A carries a 7.62 mm PKMT machine-gun in a chin mount at the front of the helicopter. According to some sources, this can traverse and elevate but there is no evidence for this, particularly in the models shown at the Kish air show. (8) This makes intuitive sense since successfully aiming and operating a turret-mounted gun while simultaneously piloting a helicopter at low altitude (it is only a PKMT after all) would be extremely difficult. The effectiveness of this machine-gun has been called into question given its small caliber and relatively low rate-of-fire. Twin pylons on either side carry a single LAU-68 rocket launcher each which can fire a total of 14 unguided rockets.

The SUU-11 gun pod is another candidate judging from their use on other IRIN/IRIAA helicopters but have not been actually seen. 

The heavy AH-85B has not been seen yet so we can only guess at what a heavier version of the AH-85A might be armed with; possibilities include some kind of ATGM, or heavier gun-pods.


AH-85C with Kowsar (YT)
The naval attack AH-85C is equipped with a basic surface search radar in it's chin in place of a light machine-gun; this is displayed on a multi-function LCD in the cockpit When the helicopter was first unveiled in 2009, two Kowsars were carried, one on each pylon. By virtue of the independent MMW seeker on the missiles themselves, this allows the AH-85 to carry a relatively rudimentary radar that doesn't have to have the complexity and expense of a radar that must scan for and illuminate targets itself. Mashregh news estimates the range of the radar to be in the 30-40 km range. (9) Which is a safe bet, if on the low side of the scale.

AH-85C with Sadid-1 (Kambiz Noori)
During the 2010 Kish airshow the AH-85C was displayed with the previously unknown "Sadid-1" missile. Very little is known about it, for instance, it's not clear whether the Sadid is a an actually an AShM, ATGM, or a hybrid. It is reported to be laser guided and have a range of 10 km. (8) If it is indeed laser guided, this leaves two possibilities for guidance. The first is laser beam riding where the missile uses a sensor at the rear of the missile to align itself with a laser pointed by the launch platform and "ride" the laser to the target. Missiles that use this type of guidance tend to be SACLOS and include many of the late generation Russian ATGMs like the AT-14. The second type is semi-active laser homing (SALH) where a seeker on the missile homes in on laser radiation emitted when the target is illuminated with a laser. Missiles in this category include the US's AGM-114 and the South African Mokopa. Unlike beam-riders however, laser homing designs have the ability to lock onto a target after launch (though not all of them have this ability) which would go toward alleviating the work load of the pilot/gunner. The fact that there is no visible seeker in the nose of the missile indicates a beam-rider (or perhaps some other form of guidance including MMW radar) though it is possible that the training round (evident by the blue stripe) is merely a mockup and doesn't include the seeker which is unlikely.

The missile itself is fired from a canister which is about 1.5 m long and 15 cm in diameter. Though it must be emphasized that these are just numbers obtained from "eyeballing" it. This puts it on the relatively small end of things for a missile with a 10 km range. It's probable that this rather exceptional range is due to an aerial launch or is an exaggeration. If it were true however it would probably mean that the warhead would be relatively light.

The stencils "AIRC" indicate that it may have exclusively designed for the use as an airborne weapon system rather then generic ATGM.

Variants:
At the time of this writing, two different airframes are known to exist, one AH-85A and another AH-85C; a total of six are reported to exist with the final four undergoing flight trials as of late-2010. (10)

AH-85A - Light overland version. It is intended for low-intensity policing conflicts or border patrol. Armed with a 7.62 mm machine-gun in the nose and two 70-mm rocket pods on hard-points.

AH-85B - Heavy overland version. Although it has yet to be seen, this model is said to be intended for "non-symmetrical wars". (11) Nothing further is known.

AH-85C -Naval attack version. Equipped with a basic surface-search radar in it's nose instead of a machine-gun. Also equipped with a slightly different cockpit configuration then the AH-85A. Armament includes either two Kowsar AShMs or eight Sadid-1 missiles.


Specifications:

AH-85
Crew: 1
Length: 11.84 m
Width: 2.78 m
Height: 3.42 m
Rotor Diameter: 10.16 m
Tail Rotor Diameter: 1.57 m
Empty Weight: 820 kg
Max Take-Off Weight: 1,450 kg
Service Ceiling: 4,160 m
Max Rate of Climb: 7.6 m/s
Cruising Speed: 225 km/s
Endurance: 5 hours
Range: 800-890 km

Works Cited:
(1) ibd Mashregh News, 2011
(2) Zafar 300. Jane's Intelligence. http://articles.janes.com/articles/Janes-All-the-Worlds-Aircraft/ZAFAR-300-Iran.html

(3) Iran Plans Armed Helicopters. Jane's Defence Weekly. Robert Hewson. December 20th 2006.
(4) ibd Hewson, 2006
(5) For example: http://www.ieimil.ir/content/electro-optical-gyro-stablized-surveillance-system-eog
(6) ibd Mashregh News, 2011
(7) Firm Accused of Illegal Aircraft Exports to Iran. The Washington Post. March 25th 2009. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/24/AR2009032403238.html 

(8) شاهد285 شمشیر بُرنده سپاه+عکس. Mashregh News. Winter/Spring 2011. http://mashreghnews.ir/NSite/FullStory/?Id=36364
(9) ibd Mashregh News, 2011
(10) Shahed 285. Iran Military Forum. Post #154. November 20th 2010. http://www.iranmilitaryforum.net/index.php?topic=734.msg56377#msg56377
(11) newest variant of iranian made Shahed 285 light attack helicopter. Iran Defense Forum. Post: #11. November 11th 2010. http://www.irandefence.net/showpost.php?p=924223&postcount=11