Iran’s Trilogy of Military Power Is a Direct Threat to the World

Missiles, drones, and fast-attack boats are the bulk of Iran’s military force, which is much more powerful and dangerous than its other equipment. But, the question is, what made Iran expand its missile, drone, and naval capabilities.

Before the Islamists takeover of the country, Iran was one of the largest buyers of weapons. His Imperial Majesty Mohammad Reza Pahlavi equipped the Imperial Army of Iran with modern weapons in response to the threat posed by the Soviet Union and the rapid growth of Islamist groups across the Middle East and northern and eastern parts of Africa. An army equipped with land, air, and sea power in its time.

In the wake of the Iran-Iraq war, and in the shadow of international sanctions against the Ayatollahs, Tehran thought of producing indigenous weapons as well as Ayatollahs had asked Washington to cancel all remaining orders for weapons concluded by the Shah of Iran.

Since then, the Islamic Republic has shifted its focus away from ordinary weapons like aircraft, artillery, and ground forces to other military equipment. Besides developing missile capability, they started building drones and boats by importing foreign models to strengthen the regime’s deterrence power. Iran’s Armed Forces now have drones and speedboats both operationally and kamikaze-style.

The regime’s officials claim that the first domestic missile was built in 1988 and used during the Iran-Iraq war.

Now, Iran can be unquestionably considered one of the countries with missile, drone, and fast-attack boat capabilities in the world, which has almost reached self-sufficiency in the military trilogy.

The most important reason for the use of missiles and drones is that America and Israel [as the main enemies of the Ayatollahs], will not be able to attack Iran by land due to geographical and strategic reasons.

According to the information published by the Washington-based Arms Control Association, the Islamic Republic of Iran has the largest number of ballistic missiles among the countries of the Middle East.

Iran’s missile program is basically developed based on the technology and design of North Korean and Russian missiles and has also benefited from China’s assistance.

Zolfaghar short-range solid fuel ballistic missile in the Fateh family with a 300-700 km range, Emad ballistic missile with a 1,700 km range, 500 m accuracy, and a 750 kg payload capacity, Sejjil missile with an estimated maximum range of 1,500-2,500 km, Abu Mahdi [Kh-55 cruise missiles-based] with a range up to 3000 km, [which is fired from the air] carrying a nuclear warhead are among Iran’s operational missiles. [Abu Mahdi Missile is named after former Iraqi militia leader, Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, who was killed in a US strike at Baghdad International Airport in January 2020 along with former IRGC Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani.]

The other one called the “Persian Gulf” missile, is an advanced anti-submarine cruise missile with a range of about 300 km and capable of carrying a 1,000 kg warhead.

Iran currently has surface-to-air, surface-to-surface, and shore-to-sea (anti-ship) missiles. “Zafar” is one of the short-range cruise missiles manufactured by the Ministry of Defense and is capable of firing from speedboats, helicopters, and ground-based launchers. The purpose of designing and producing Zafar missiles is to destroy ships and large boats. The Nasr cruise missile is another member of the Iranian cruise missile family, which is designed and built in two types, sea-based and air-based [able to destroy 3000-ton targets such as warships and destroyers].

Over the past years, with the efforts of domestic experts, Iran has tried to reduce the weight of long-range missiles to a quarter, increase the efficiency of warheads by ten times, and reduce its production process time to one-sixth.

“The range of our missiles depends on the estimation of threats”, says the spokesperson of the Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces Logistics.

Iranian Kamikaze Drones and Fast-Attack Boats

Drone or Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is one of the other Iran-produced military armaments.

Iran-Iraq prolonged war and unequal military power [and since many military experts were executed or fired] forced Iran interested in unmanned aerial vehicles in the mid-1980s. Iran first tested its low-efficiency drones [Mohajer and Ababil] in 1985.

After three decades, Iran has advanced its drone industries which made Tehran able to export drones to other nations; to Russia for the attacks on Ukraine, to terrorist-Hamas or Lebanese-Hezbollah to attack Israel, or its proxies [Hashd al-Shaabi and Houthi] in the Middle East. Further, Iranian drones are also exported to countries such as Ethiopia, Sudan, Venezuela, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Yemen, and Syria, which are either involved in civil war or governed by malign regimes.

Fotros (Fallen Angel) drone, is their biggest yet, Iran officials claim. Iran claims that the giant and wide-body drone with a 16-30 hours flight duration and 2,000 km operational range, can guard sea and borders, monitor oil pipelines, telecommunications, and road traffic control, surveillance earthquake-affected areas, fires, and floods, protect the environment and send detailed videos and photos all the time.

Some of the homegrown drones, with a 16-30 hours flight duration and 2,000 km operational range, can carry 450 liters of fuel 450 liters of fuel, with a maximum cargo weight of 300 kg. The unmanned flying objects’ maximum speed is about 210 km/h and are able to carry all kinds of ammunition and bombs [Qaem Smart Glider Bombs, Diamond missiles, and Arman bombs], and it is equipped with electronic warfare and information dominance. Iranian homegrown drones or drone technology are being exported to Russia, Syria, Venezuela, Sudan, Ethiopia, Tajikistan, Iraq, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Kataib Hezbollah and Hashd al Shabi in Iraq, Yemeni Houthis, and Hamas in Gaza.

Drones and missiles are two powerful wings of Iran’s military, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) officials say.

But, the FTO-IRGC fast-attack boats. Small with fast power. For the first time, the importance of high-speed boats for the Islamic Republic was shown in the Tanker War (during Iran-Iraq war). The IRGC Navy was formed based on this relative success in the Tanker War in 1985.

Iran’s fast-attack boats, with a breakneck speed of 120 knots, are equipped with light and semi-heavy weapons. The speedboats are known as ‘Red Bees of the Persian Gulf’. The Tir-class Speedboat is one of them whose initial version was bought from North Korea and then Iran upgraded it.

Iran also bought some racing Bladerunner boats during Tehran’s notorious Ahmadinejad presidency in 2009 and upgraded them for its military ambitions.

Iran’s new generation of go-fast boats, in which carbon-fiber is used in the body and parts, are capable of doing serious damage to tankers, merchant ships, destroyers, and warships in the world’s single most important oil passageway, the Strait of Hormuz. The go-fast boats are very similar, if not identical, to the narco-terrorists’ boats they have been using to run drugs, mainly cocaine from the cartels in Colombia up to Mexico, where drugs are smuggled overland to the U.S. or by ship to European countries.

The high-speed vessels can be installed with various weapons such as sea mines, short-range rocket launchers, Browning M2, and armed with missiles with a range of 100 kilometers.

The FTO-IRGC also possesses ‘remote control’ fast-attack boats, which officials claim are equipped with artificial intelligence. 

Iran’s irregular and guerilla warfare methods rely on missiles, drones, and speedboats.

Iran’s war tactics are based on the use and firing of a large number of missiles, drones, or boats, and such lightning attacks can disrupt any military defense system. Iran has simulated such attacks many times as a series of quick and decisive short battles to deliver a knockout blow to an enemy state before it can fully mobilize. Hamas terrorist attack on Israel is one of them.

Iran has spent billions of dollars to advance its trilogy military strength. Iran is home to the largest ballistic missile and drone arsenal in the Middle East. The FTO-IRGC has also supported local production of rockets, short-range missiles, drones, and go-fast boats in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Gaza, Syria, and Iraq [where dozens of groups are fighting on behalf of Iran]. Iran’s military trilogy power shows that distance does not buy security.

Kaveh Taheri, Turkey-based Iranian socio political researcher and investigative journalist

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