Sunday, February 9, 2014

The 840th Missile Group

Google Earth / Libre-Office Draw
The Army Ground Force's (NEZAJA's) 840th Missile Group is based out of the city of Aran and Bidgol in the Isfahan province. As of November 2013, the group is commanded by Col. Mojtabi Moustafi Zadeh.[1] The group is sometimes referred to in the media as a 'rocket launcher group'.[2] These are simply variations in nomenclature and do not reflect the technical differences between unguided rockets and guided missiles.

Although it is the Army's only known missile group, other artillery groups have – in the past at least – included independent missile batteries alongside conventional artillery battalions. For example, during the Iran-Iraq war, the 44th Artillery Group was comprised of two tube-artillery battalions, an MLRS battalion, and one missile battery. [3]

The group's 'Shahid Moustafi Kabrai' garrison can be found approximately four kilometers north of the city. Google Earth provides coverage of the garrison from 09/2011, 03/2012 (partial coverage), and 10/2013. Bing supplements this with imagery from 01/2012.

Google Earth / Libre-Office Draw

The garrison has an atypical layout compared to other Army facilities, making it difficult to interpret.

Media reports indicate the existence of at least two “long-range missile battalions” – the 847th, and 848th – equipped with Zelzal, Nazeat, and Fajr-5 rocket-launchers; a third battalion is likely. These are supported by an air-defense battalion equipped with Zu-23-2s.[4] Additional support elements – such as CBW-units and light anti-tank units are organized at an unknown level, but are likely subordinate to the equivalent of a 'Headquarters and Headquarters Support Battery' along with communication and supply/maintenance support.

Exercise imagery from March 2013 confirm the use of Fajr-5s, and Nazeat 6/10s, as does overhead imagery from 10/2013. These are associated with TELs mounted on the Mercedes Benz 2626 as well as the newer Axor-series, which are only visible on overhead imagery, but which can be identified by the lack of a forward bonnet. The short Mercedes Benz 911 is another option, but cannot be positively identified.
Google Earth / Libre-Office Draw
Battalion support – containerized command, repair, communication and meterological cabins, as well as transloaders and personnel/equipment transport – are mounted on the same range of Mercedes platforms including the older cab-after-engine L-series (911, 1924, 2624) and newer  cab-over-engine Atego/Axor series. Lighter vehicles like the Safir Jeep are utilized as radio-carriers in addition to other likely roles.

Additional Imagery:
See Text /  Libre-Office Draw (Correction, top-right image, see comments)
See Text /  Libre-Office Draw

Works Cited / Footnotes:
[1] Title: NEZAJA Deputy: Competentcy is the criteria for the selection of Army commanders.
Date: November 25, 2013 / Azar 4, 1392.
Link: IRNA, Khorromabad
[2] Title: The Army is [for the] defense of the faithful and protection of the Islamic System.
Date: April 18, 2013 / Farvadin 29, 1392.
Link: IRNA, Esfahan
[3] Title: The role of the 44th Artillery Group in the Sacred Defense. Date: NA.
Link: AJA
[4] Title: On the Sidelines of Army Day in Aran va Bidgol. Date: April 2013/Farvadin 1392.
Link: Nasim Bidgol Blog


  1. You've certainly a better eye for detail than I, Galen. But I think that might be a Mercedes-Benz Axor 1828 type (not an Actros series).

  2. You might be right. I think that was a labeling error on my part.

    I've been working on an on-again off-again project trying to identify the various makes and models used, and there has been no end to the amount of trouble the endless variations - styling, cabs, wheelbases, bed-type, etc - have caused me (so any help is appreciated!).

  3. Always great work! Found this site, it's about 13 miles west of Ardakan, looks military, seems to be barracks and obstacle course. Kind of isolated to be a school, I don't think it is a farm or industrial. Seems like a building was added, could be for vehicles.,53.799191&spn=0.018333,0.025513&t=h&z=16

  4. I found this IRG Missile site, at least that's what was said on Wikimapia. It was surprising to see a Technical school as a neighbor to quite a large military site with the bunkers and grounds. There is also a smaller bunker site next to it.,46.254362&spn=0.008543,0.012757&t=h&z=17

  5. Re: Ardakan

    I found a handful of references on personal blogs suggesting that the garrison is the 'Vali Ase' training center for IRGC air-force conscripts. Interestingly, about 10 km to the SE is another training center - the Bani Akram school -that also appears to be used by the IRGC for basic training, though since it's called a school rather than just a garrison, it might be used for more than just that.

    Re: Tabiz

    On and off I've been trying to locate some of he garrisons belonging to the IRGC aerospace force's missile units, but I haven't been able to find any decent references to where they might be (outside of the depots and silos described elsewhere in the English-language community). The next closest I've come is the Ground Forces artillery-group in NE Iran.

    This, I believe, is the 60th Artillery and Missile Group. Since I've been thinking about this for awhile I'm going to try and put together a post about it. In the meantime though, the part about the garrison that caught my eye was what-appears-to-be an air-defense site of some sort in the south-west part of the garrison, along the top of the ridge.

  6. Could the name of this unit be 840th Rocket Group, instead of Missile?