Thursday, April 29, 2010

Iran military plane encounters USS Eisenhower over Gulf of Oman

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File photo: USS Enterprise (CVN-65)

According to CNN:
An Iranian navy plane that approached a U.S. aircraft carrier last week was flying as low as 300 feet as it neared the USS Eisenhower, U.S. military officials said Wednesday.

The incident, first reported by CNN on Tuesday, came as Iran was beginning a series of military exercises last week meant to show off their military prowess.

The Eisenhower was on duty in the Gulf of Oman in the northern Arabian Sea, in support of the Afghanistan war efforts, when the Iranian maritime patrol aircraft flew within 1,000 yards of the vessel, according to military officials.


Adm. Gary Roughead, the top Navy officer, confirmed the April 21 incident. The Iranians were "not provocative or threatening. As long as they are professional and not threatening or reckless, it's international space," he said.

Radar on the Eisenhower and other U.S. ships in the vicinity closely tracked the Iranian aircraft as it approached the aircraft carrier to ensure it maintained a nonthreatening path, Roughead said. A senior U.S. military official said the Iranian plane was tracked by U.S. units for nearly 100 miles before it reached the Eisenhower.

The Iranian aircraft was a Fokker F27 that was unarmed, officials said. It remained in the vicinity of the Eisenhower for about 20 minutes before leaving the area, according to the senior official. The Eisenhower had just finished a series of carrier aircraft flight operations and a resupply at sea mission.


U.S. military officials continue to emphasize that recent encounters with Iranian naval forces in the Persian Gulf have been professional and without confrontation or problems. The U.S. Navy takes great care to try to stay out of the way of any Iranian forces in the region, officials said.

Initial reports described the Iranian aircraft as a "fighter jet," however it has subsequently been identified as a propeller-driven Fokker F-27. IRIN (Islamic Republic of Iran Navy) aviation fly the Fokker F-27-400M Troopship and F-27-600 Friendship, and sport a distinctive 3-color camo pattern. IRGCN (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy) aviation were known in the past to fly a F-27-600 Friendship, an example of which is grounded at the Tehran Aerospace Center. The IRGCN plane is painted white with grey undersides. The IRIAF and IRIAA also fly F-27s.

Above: IRIN Fokker F-27-400M Troopship

IRIAF spokesman Amir Alavi asserted that routine patrol flights are within the Iranian military's legal rights, and stated that "our planes might have passed near US ships in this corridor [Daryā-e Omman] but there would be no cause for complaint in the matter."

Other Iranian media sources emphasized that CNN was deliberately attempting to raise tensions between the US and Iran, over conduct that is considered routine in the region.

Photo: Babak at

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

UAE and the Three Islands

The Three Islands
Strait of Hormuz . Persian Gulf
To the north is Iran's Qeshm Island; to the east is the UAE

On Sunday, the UAE foreign minster, Sheikh Abdullah, called on Iran to end the “occupation” of the three islands of the Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa. Last week, the Emirati foreign minister had linked Iran’s ownership of the three Persian Gulf islands to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands.

The controversy over the three islands goes back to early 1970s when the British were pulling out of the Persian Gulf. They put pressure on the shah’s government to renounce Iran’s historical claim over Bahrain in return for the three islands, which also had long been claimed by Iran. Shah agreed and Iran occupied the three islands.

Shah's renunciation of Iran’s claims over Bahrain happened when Bahrain became part of the Federation of Arab Emirates (FAE). In return, the FAE (which included today’s UAE plus Bahrain and Qatar) accepted Iran’s sovereignty over the three islands. In 1971, Bahrain reneged on its membership at FAE and the newly formed UAE later reneged on recognition of Iran’s sovereignty over the islands. Shah’s government recognized Bahrain’s independence, but did not get UAE’s recognition of Iran’s sovereignty over the islands.

Facing the claim by UAE over the three islands, any agreement by the shah’s government to recognize Bahrain in return for the three islands could now be challenged by Tehran. Bahrain and the Trucial States, the predecessor of UAE, did not negotiate with the shah in good faith and the results of those negotiations could now technically be considered null and void.

Monday, April 26, 2010

30th anniversary of 'Operation Eagle Claw'

An interesting Al Jazeera report on the 30th anniversary of the failed American 'Operation Eagle Claw', the attempted rescue of American hostages held in the US embassy in Tehran on April 25th 1980.

Iran Eases Foreign Ownership Rules

Iran announced today that it has adopted new regulations to facilitate foreign investment in its capital markets. All restrictions on foreign investors transferring money out of Iran are removed and the limit of foreign ownership of Iranian companies is raised to 20 percent from 10 percent. Foreign investments are now exempt from paying any taxes.

"The government is now offering broader incentives to foreign investors with fewer regulatory strings attached," said Ali Saleh Abadi, director of Iran's Securities and Exchange Organization. "They will be exempt from paying tax and will no longer be subjected to excessive regulations." [Press TV, 26 April].

Iran is aiming to raise some $12.5 billion in foreign investment by privatizing more than 500 state-owned firms during its current fiscal year that began on 21 March. Among those firms are two carmakers and two refineries.

In the current political atmosphere and the hesitancy of foreign investors to enter the Iranian market, however, IRGC, the country’s most powerful branch of armed forces with extensive economic holdings in the country, is expected to take over the carmakers and the refineries put up for “privatization."

Iran to Increase Gas Import

The National Iranian Gas Company announced today that the import of gas from Turkmenistan would reach 40 million cubic meters a day, a 5-fold increase from the current 8 MMcm/day [Shaha News Agecny, 26 April 2010]. Turkmenistan will commission a second gas pipeline by November to accommodate Iran’s growing imports.

Iran has the world’s second largest gas reserves (after Russia), and shares the world’s largest natural gas field (with Qatar) in the Persian Gulf waters, but the country does not produce sufficient natural gas for domestic use.

Aside from its need to increase natural gas production, Iran needs to raise its oil production and exports as well as expand its refining capacity to meet domestic demands for gasoline. NIOC, the country’s giant state-owned oil company, has estimated that Iran would need some $150 billion in new investments over the next decade to build up its energy sector. But the growing sanctions have resulted in an exodus of foreign oil and gas giants from Iran, bringing the level of foreign investments in oil and gas sector to near zero.

On Saturday, the IRGC, the country’s powerful branch of armed forces, announced that it could fill the gap in the country’s energy sector left by Western oil firms pulling out in the face of the new sanctions. As good a fighting force that IRGC might have become, it is clear that it would fail miserably if it wanted to transform itself into a giant oil and gas company, dependant on high technology and global capital markets to meet the investment needs of the Iranian energy sector.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Great Prophet 5 Maneuvers (6)

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Front to back: Fadjr-5 MRLS, Fadjr-3 MRLS, Noor AShM (?),
Noor AShM, HY-2 CD/AShM, HY-2 CD/AShM

Wolf in sheep's clothing: Noor (C-802) concealed single launcher inside medium commercial truck transport. Sidings removed, accordion roof pulled back, outriggers deployed, cab protected, FCS hoisted, internal box elevated and missile fired.

HY-2G Seersucker aboard mobile launcher. The missile is powered by a liquid-fuel rocket motor, with a solid-fuel rocket booster attached under the missile fuselage.

Missile and launcher in IRGC/ASF service are immaculate

Close up detail of solid fuel engine nozzle

HY-2G Seersucker missile launch

Booster rocket jetison

Fadjr-3 ("dawn-3") 240 mm MRLS in elevated firing position

Fadjr-3 rocket launch

Fadjr-5 ("dawn-5") 333 mm MRLS

Photos: Mahdi Marizad at Fars News Agency and Younes Khani at Mehr News Agency

Amnesty for Jundallah Insurgents

The governor of Iranian Baluchistan said on Saturday that the Iranian government has offered amnesty to 110 members of Jundallah, with some insurgents handing over their weapons to the authorities. Governor Ali Mohammad Azad added that some 200 more insurgents have sought amnesty.

Iranian intelligence agents arrested Jundallah’s leader, Abdulmalik Rigi, in February when he was en route from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan. Rigi’s arrest has had a devastating effect on Jundallah, a traditional tribal hierarchical organization. Members of Jundallah were following Rigi out of their loyalty to the top tribal leader. Without Rigi, they might not feel as compelled to continue his cause. The demise or marginalization of Jundallah would be an important victory for the Islamic Republic in the country’s southeastern border region.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Iran sanctions an act of war - Ron Paul

A short speech by Texas Congressman and former Presidential Nominee Ron Paul in which he points out the fallacies of imposing sanctions and attacking Iran over its nuclear programme comparing them to the propaganda that started up the disaster that was the invasion of Iraq.

Great Prophet 5 Maneuvers (5)

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IRGCAF Sukhoi Su-25K and Su-25UBK

Iran M-08 type contact mines

IRGC "12 m" patrol boat firing a Hoot (whale)
supercavitation torpedo

Fadjr-3 240mm MRLS being uncloaked and
readied by civilian dressed operators

An IRGC Colonel (Sarhang) manning an adapted
Shipunov 2A42 30 mm automatic cannon

IRGC guardsman armed with PKM general purpose machine gun

Iranian equivalent MK19 Mod 3 type 40 mm grenade launcher,
equipped with NV scope

Covered ZU-23-2 autocannon position

Fajr rockets display

Major General Jafari (right) beside two other IRGC Major Generals

Qatar military observers of Great Prophet 5 (Payambar-e Azam)

Photos/video stills: Fars News Agency, Mehr News Agency, IRINN

Great Prophet 5 Maneuvers (4)

IRGC Air Assault exercise: Straight of Hormuz

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IRGCAF Mil Mi-17-1 transporting IRGC light infantry

Troop insertion at the Tactical Landing Zone (TLZ)

Mil Mi-17-1 liftoff away from the TLZ

Defensive position atop a berm:
LMGs, MMG and RPGs.

IRGC light infantry armed with KLS (AKM) assault rifles

MMG instruction in the field

An IRGC Colonel (Sarhang) serves as MMG loader

IRGC motorized scouts

Photos: Fars News Agency and Mehr News Agency

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Great Prophet 5 Maneuvers (3)

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The Swarm: IRGCN patrol boats on the attack

IRGCN "Boghammar" type high-speed patrol boat (HSPB) armed with a forward firing MGD-12.7 (DShK) heavy machine gun (HMG).

A variety of IRGCN "whaler" type patrol boats, selectively armed with MGD-12.7 (DShK) HMGs and 107 mm MRLS.

Foreground: a pair of IRGCN "Boghammars." Background: smoking target ship being tugged. Overhead: IRGC(N) Air Force Mil Mi-17-1(Sh) helicopter.

Ex-Iraq Navy Polnocny class troop ship is raked by target practice

Lineup of four IRGCN Thondar class missile craft

"Sepah Navy Special Forces - Aba Abdellah Boys"!

Platoon of IRGCN frogmen aboard Iranian equivalent
combat rubber raiding craft (CRRC)

Photos: Mehr News Agency and Fars News Agency

Great Prophet 5 Maneuvers (2)

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IRGCN patrol boats armed with 107 mm (x11) MRLS and bow mounted MGD-12.7 (DShK) heavy machine gun (HMG).

Attack wave of of RIB-33 based patrol boats
armed with 107 mm (x11) MRLS

107 mm rocket fire

Practice target vessel is ex-Iraq Navy Polnocny class
amphibious assault ship

Multiple hits scored by attacking patrol boat formation

Surveying the damage inflicted on the wrecked target vessel

Aftermath. Note multiple penetration of the
hull by 107 mm AP rounds

Below: IRIS (IRGCN) P313-2 Nasr Thondar class missile craft
Above: IRGC(N) Air Force Mil Mi-17-1(Sh) helicopter

Photos: Mahdi Marizad at Fars News Agency

Great Prophet 5 Maneuvers (1)

Iran news videos: IRGC naval maneuvers in the Persian Gulf.

Later section of video depicts attack exercise on target vessel, using IRGCN high-speed patrol boats (HSPBs).

Videos: PressTV and IRINN

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Recent US speculations over an attack on Iran

Last week one of America's top uniformed officers General James Cartwright in front of the Senate came to the conclusion that the United States would not be able to stop Iran permanently from developing nuclear weapons unless it was willing to occupy the country.

Senator Jack Reed a democrat from Rhode Island then went on to ask if the only way to end any potential Iranian nuclear weapon development "was to physically occupy their country and disestablish their nuclear facilities?"

Cartwright responded by stating that: "Absent some other unknown calculus that would go on, that's a fair conclusion."

Such speculation and 'hype' over a US attack on Iran has raised from leaked memo from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates which details what actions to take against Iran's nuclear programme if it proceeds regardless of the international sanctions.

On an interview on Fox News over the weekend Senator and former Republican presidential nominee John McCain stated "We [the United States] have not done anything that would in any way be viewed effective. I didn't need a secret memo from Mr Gates to ascertain that."

McCain has further asserted that:

"We keep pointing the gun, we haven't pulled a single trigger yet, and it's about time that we did."

However with all of the media hype Admiral Mike Mullen the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has stated a military strike would be 'his last option' and has warned of the unintended consequences of such a strike.

But he also agreed that the UN sanctions would not be tough enough to have a serious impact on Tehran.

Iran's current level of enriched uranium is 3.5%, 90% and over is the amount used in nuclear weapons, the government in Tehran continues to assert it's nuclear enrichment program is for peaceful purposes and that they are not seeking to build a nuclear bomb.

Iran S-300 Type Launcher and Radar Variants

There has been a flurry of speculation regarding certain air defense equipment shown at the recent 2010 Military Parade near Tehran, chief among these the S-300 type launcher variant. It must be kept in mind that Iran exhibited a launcher variant, and not a completed S-300 type air defense weapon system.

For its part, Iran has so far only announced a program of developing this type of air defense weapon system, and no test results have yet been publicized.

New photos have been independently published which are worth examining, as well as a few shots of related air defense radar variants which were also exhibited.

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Iran S-300 type launcher variants. The Babr series carriers are not identical in detail, and the launch canisters appear to sit slightly differently on their respective flatbed sections.

Missile launch canister detail. Circular reinforcements are evident, as are signs of sectional welding to the canisters themselves.

Simplified erector assembly (over S-300 and HQ-9)
Iran Big Bird (Tombstone) variant long-range surveillance radar

Iran Nebo variant Counter Low Band Surveillance Radar

Photos: and