The fact that the United States and / or Israel is about to attack Iran is being interpreted by the world media several years in a row already. After the capture of Iraq by American troops for about three years, the option of repeating the same scenario in Iran was seriously considered, that is, the air-ground operation of the US armed forces against the Islamic Republic and the full occupation of its territory were discussed. However, such plans in Washington were abandoned even during the reign of the administration of George W. Bush. But the possibility of an air-missile strike on Iranian nuclear facilities is still being discussed.
However, before discussing whether this strike will be inflicted or not, and if so, what the result will be, it is advisable to analyze the state of the modern Iranian military organization.
It is unique, because it coexists the armed forces that have survived from the reign of Shah Mohammed Rez Pahlavi, and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), created after the overthrow of the monarchy. Moreover, both the Armed Forces and the IRGC have their own ground forces, Aviation and the fleet.
WEAPONS MUCH BUT OLD
The IRGC performs the functions of the “second army” and the internal forces of the Islamic regime. A certain analogue of this system was perhaps Nazi Germany, where, in addition to the Wehrmacht (armed forces), SS formations and units were formed. In fact, an integral part of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is the Basij militia of several million people. In addition, the IRGC includes a structure that performs strategic reconnaissance and sabotage functions - special purpose forces “Kods”.
Both the armed forces and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are subordinate to the spiritual leader of Iran (now Ayatollah Khamenei), and the elected president is only one of the 11 members of the Supreme National Security Council (executive political body).
Today, the equipment of the Iranian Armed Forces is so eclectic that the second such example anywhere on the planet can be found with great difficulty. It includes weapons and military equipment produced in the United States and Great Britain (supplied by the Shah), China and North Korea (obtained during the war with Iraq 1980-1988 and after it), the Soviet Union and Russia (re-exported from Syria, Libya and the DPRK at the time of the Iran-Iraq confrontation or bought in the USSR and the Russian Federation after its termination). These are mostly outdated samples. In addition, the maintenance of many of them (above all, of course, Western models of weapons and military equipment) is difficult due to the lack of spare parts. Since the losses suffered by Iran during the war with Iraq and the current state of military equipment are not precisely known, its number is estimated approximately.
The ground forces, numbering about 700 thousands of people (about half - the army, the same number - the IRGC), include 12 divisions (five infantry, two mechanized, three armored, one airborne, one special purpose) and two brigades (missile and transport) army, as well as about 20 divisions and more 20 brigades of the Revolutionary Guards Corps. The number of subdivisions, units and formations of the IRGC in 1,5-2 is smaller than the army, however, after mobilization in wartime, they are replenished by reservists and acquire a higher status.
There are approximately 1700 troops tanks, 700 infantry fighting vehicles, 600 armored personnel carriers, 2400 artillery pieces (including more than 300 self-propelled guns), 5000 mortars, 900 MLRS and the same number of anti-tank systems, 2000 anti-aircraft guns, 200 helicopters (I recall that this is an approximate estimate).
Speaking about the aviation of the armed forces, we should first of all mention the presence of 25-30 front-line bombers Su-24 and 30-35 MiG-29 fighters (some of them flew from Iraq after the start of "Storm in the Desert" and then were requisitioned by Tehran , others were purchased in Russia), as well as from 25 to 65 American F-14 fighter jets imported back in the 70-s. Interestingly, after the US Navy dismissed these machines (F-14 based on aircraft carriers), Iran remained the only country in the world to operate this type of aircraft.
In addition, there are from 120 to 200 old American F-4 and F-5 fighters and Chinese J-7 (degraded version of the MiG-21), as well as around 90 Soviet Su-20 / 22, Su-25, MiG-23 and French Mirage-F1 (they also flew from Iraq in 1991). Of this remarkable variety, most likely no more than 100 machines have retained their combat capability, but even they do not meet modern requirements (except maybe the Su-25, but their number does not exceed 13 units).
As for transport aircraft, there are about 100, including about ten IL-76 and five Boeing 747.
The air defense forces have 45 English rapids (30 "Rapier" and 15 "Taygerket"), 45 Soviet C-75 and 10 C-200, 150 US-based Advanced Hok (everywhere we are talking about the number of PU) . The Z-29 ZRS remains the world record holder in terms of range and altitude, but it is outdated and has very limited ability to work on low-flying and highly maneuverable targets. The newest Tor systems have a very small firing range (200 km), besides, they are simply too small. C-12 is as old as C-75, and it is completely inconsistent with modern requirements. American and British air defense missile systems also became unsuitable and, moreover, have no spare parts.
The situation would have changed dramatically if Iran had acquired the C-300 ground-to-ground missile system in Russia, but so far this transaction has not been realized and its prospects are foggy.
In the IRGC aviation, there are only training and auxiliary aircraft (more than 100 machines), but they include all Soviet-made, Korean, Chinese and local-made ballistic missiles (two brigades of tactical and tactical missiles each), the exact number of which is unknown.
As part of fleet armed forces - three submarines of project 877 (acquired in Russia in the early 90s), three frigates of the Alvand type of British construction (early 70s), two old (early 60s) American corvettes, 10 French missile boats (purchased during the Shah, recently re-equipped with Chinese anti-ship missiles S-801 and S-802), more than 100 patrol boats, about 30 landing ships and boats, including 14 - on an air cushion. There are two marines.
The IRGC fleet includes three or four ultra-small submarines, 10 rocket boats (RK) of the “Huanfen” type, built in China (similar to the Soviet RK 205 project), and the same number of small RK of the Chinese project, launched in Iran itself, several hundred patrol boats , several landing ships, six divisions of the coastal anti-ship missiles C-802, one brigade of marines.
In the conditions of a close shallow-water Persian Gulf, the low-noise submarines of the 877 project, as well as the ultra-small submarines that Tehran creates with the help of the DPRK, can be quite effective. The high potential of such weapons in the coastal waters of the North Korean sailors clearly demonstrated quite recently - apparently, the SMPL sank the South Korean corvette “Chong An”. Iranian frigates and corvettes do not represent a serious combat force, but numerous boats are capable of creating problems for the enemy. The country has launched large-scale construction of small-sized speedboats and the production of small-scale anti-ship missiles (ASM) "Nasr-1" (a copy of the Chinese C-704 for small RK). Because of their speed and small size, these boats are almost invulnerable, while either they are armed with anti-ship missiles or the MLRS.
Iran is actively trying to develop its own military equipment, which officials in Tehran regularly make loud and boastful statements about. But almost all of these statements are bluffs: the Iranian military industrial complex deals only with “variations on the theme” of foreign models at its disposal. For example, the “newest” fighter “Saega” was created on the basis of the American F-5, which appeared in the USA at the beginning of the 60's. The Jamaran ship commissioned in February of this year was loudly called the “missile destroyer”. In fact, it has a displacement of 1420 tons, armed with an Italian-made 76-millimeter cannon and two paired installations of Chinese C-802 anti-ship missiles. The ship was created on the basis of the aforementioned frigates of the "Alvand" type. These destroyers have a displacement of at least 5 thousand tons and an order of magnitude more powerful weapons. The tank now being produced in Iran, Zulfikar, is a copy of the T-72, and this is by no means improved. In general, Iran is repeating the Chinese way of copying foreign samples and creating their own by synthesizing Russian-Soviet and Western technologies. Only in China is the scientific and technological level much higher than that of Iran.
Of course, the greatest interest is the question of the prospects for Tehran’s nuclear-missile program, because it is precisely this that can cause a blow to Iran. The problem, however, is that almost all the information about it is a mixture of Western and Israeli speculations and Iranian bluffs. To get the truth out of this is extremely difficult. It is only necessary to understand: both Western and Israeli speculations and the Iranian bluff work in one direction - an extreme overstatement of the real possibilities of the Islamic Republic, which in themselves are very small.
It is no longer a secret that Iran is developing the line of the Soviet missile P-17, so beloved by the Asian countries, better known under its western name Scud. From it, the Iranian Shahab-3 “grew up” with a range of 1,3-1,5 thousand km. In addition, Tehran acquired Dongfeng 11 (400 km) and Dongfeng 15 (900 km) missiles in China. Apparently, he is trying to construct tactical missiles based on anti-aircraft missiles of the obsolete Soviet ZRS systems (C-75 and C-200) (they will not hit the modern aircraft, but they may well be on ground targets). It is reported on the development of the rocket "Segil" with a range of up to 2 thousand. Km.
There are also a lot of unguided rockets (Zelzal, Nazit, Shahin), their flight range is from 40 to 150 km. Accuracy of missiles (even guided) is extremely low.
The likelihood of Tehran creating long-range missiles and especially nuclear warheads (CU) to them on their own is negligible. The key question is: what kind of foreign assistance does Iran receive (from China and the DPRK)? There is no answer to it. In any case, even if friends from the East help Iran, he himself will have to establish mass production of missiles and warheads. And before that, it is imperative to check them.
Apparently, it is the fact of testing (especially multiple) long-range missiles in Iran that will be the reason for striking the country. And if nuclear tests take place there, doubts will disappear. First of all, from Israel, which today considers Tehran to be the main threat to its existence. Full support for Tel Aviv, strange as it sounds, will be received from most Arab countries (Saudi Arabia and other monarchies of the Persian Gulf, Egypt, Jordan), for which Iran is also the main opponent.
As for the United States, a lot depends on who will be the head of the country at the time of X. After all, the plot with the Iranian nuclear missile program lasts a long time and can continue for a long time, going beyond Obama’s presidential term. However, nuclear tests in Iran, even for the current American president with all his pacifism, can become a “red line”. And since in the 2013 year, Obama will be replaced by an incomparably harder person with a probability close to 100%, he will certainly give the go-ahead to the anti-Iranian operation. Especially if Israel and the Arabs want to strike, in Washington (even under Obama) they can decide that since the process cannot be stopped, it must be headed.
The United States will be able to destroy the facilities of the Iranian nuclear complex and other enterprises of the military-industrial complex and the armed forces with the help of massive strikes of naval and air-based cruise missiles - this method of waging war by the Americans has been well established for a long time. Of course, a couple of dozen SLCMs are able to bring down the "Torah", yet the remaining air defense weapons are simply ineffective.
The problem is different: were all the enterprises to be destroyed managed to be identified? It is likely that part of Iran’s military and industrial facilities are hidden underground, including in mountain caves and tunnels. They are very difficult to detect and hit. However, for the destruction of such objects in the United States are actively developed super heavy bombs weighing more than 13 tons, breaking through concrete or rocks with a thickness of more than 30 meters. B-2 and B-52 strategic bombers are capable of carrying these bombs. Invisible B-2 will be able to penetrate Iran’s airspace completely freely in any situation, but to ensure B-52 air strikes, the Americans will have to completely suppress the entire air defense of the country, including old air defense systems and fighter aircraft. Then you will not manage with “Tomahawks” alone, it will be necessary to activate manned aircraft. But in any case, there will be no fundamental problems for the United States: Iran has too little MiG-29 and the training level of Iranian pilots is incomparable with that of the United States. An air-missile strike on the country will be very costly for the United States from a financial point of view, but they are no stranger to this. Most likely it will be possible to do without losses in aircraft and, accordingly, in people. The US Navy will also successfully deal with Iranian submarines and boats. But the Iranian fleet is unlikely to seriously damage at least one enemy ship. So the most important thing for Americans is to identify all the goals, the rest is literally a “technical matter”.
Israel has no cruise missiles, no “super-bombs”, or strategic bombers. There are only about 400 F-15 and F-16 fighters of various modifications and the highest level of pilot training. However, they will be faced with an extremely difficult task, given the significant number of targets and their spatial variation over the territory of Iran, a large distance to them and the above-mentioned problem of identifying and hitting targets hidden underground. It will be necessary to allocate significant forces to suppress Iran’s air defenses and to strike objects, especially given the fact that, due to the large distance, the combat load of the strike aircraft will have to be limited. Most likely at least 100 aircraft will take part in such a strike.
If C-300 appears in Iran, Israel will need to use almost all the country's air forces to strike. And to do without loss, for sure, will not succeed. But even one or two Israeli pilots in Iranian captivity shown on Tehran TV are a political catastrophe for Tel Aviv, regardless of the results of the attack. However, Israel has the Jericho ballistic missiles capable of reaching Iran. Apparently, there are also cruise missiles with the launch of the submarine. With their help, the Israelis can suppress a significant part of the Iranian air defense, greatly facilitating the lives of pilots.
It should be borne in mind that in the event of a strike on Iran (whether it be American or Israeli), American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, who are not ready to wage a classic war against a huge regular army, even if they are armed with outdated equipment, become targets for retaliation. The Yankees are conducting anti-guerrilla wars there, so they have few tanks (in Afghanistan, none at all) and anti-tank weapons, they are very bad with air defense. In addition, Iranians are guaranteed to be supported by a significant part of Iraqi Shiites, who are now completely loyal to the American presence in this country. Because of this, in the first stage, the Americans may suffer very significant losses in the battle with the Iranians and Iraqi Shiites. Then, of course, the Americans "take their own", primarily due to air superiority. But great losses, the breakdown of stabilization in Iraq, the further deterioration of the situation in Afghanistan are completely not in the interests of Washington, no matter who is in the White House.
In addition, Tehran will try to completely cut off oil imports through the Strait of Hormuz, its submarines and boats can be used not so much against the US fleet as against tankers, then the effect can be much greater. In addition, the Iranians will flood the strait (and much of the Persian Gulf) with mines. All this will lead to a rapid increase in oil prices.
That is why the Americans will try in every way to avoid a military solution to the Iranian issue and keep Israel from it. Although the success of the military option is almost guaranteed, but the price can be very high - not so much during the strike itself, but because of a possible Iranian response. Therefore, if Iran does not cross the line (does not conduct nuclear tests), the probability of war is very small.
But whether Iran will cross the line is extremely difficult to say. The presence of nuclear weapons would transfer them to a completely new level in world politics and would greatly increase the weight in the Islamic world. In addition, the presence of a nuclear arsenal is a serious guarantee against outside aggression. On the other hand, one should not consider the leaders of Iran as paranoid: they are quite pragmatic people and understand perfectly well that they will not be allowed to create this very arsenal.
However, as already mentioned, without assistance, Iran will not create any arsenal in any case. And since now sanctions have been imposed against him, for which China has also voted, the question, at first glance, seems to be generally closed. Although there is still the DPRK, which itself is under sanctions. Therefore, the continuation of cooperation with Tehran will not be a problem for it. Moreover, it may well conduct both missile and nuclear tests on its territory for Iran itself. And then Tehran will be able to put its neighbors before the fact. True, in all circumstances - this is not the case of the near future. In addition, without a full-fledged air defense, the value of the nuclear missile arsenal is significantly reduced. Therefore, it will be very difficult for Iran to manage without C-300 or HQ-9. So we are waiting for the development of the plot.