When Putin said no. Continuation of the story about Iranian drones

September 25, 11:35 am

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In the second part of the material, I hope to clarify why I spent so much time explaining everything background and context “of Iranian UAVs

The first part of the text on Iranian UAVs read here

The period from the mid-1980s to about 2003-2005. format basis “of this story and explains why there has been such unsystematic development of new UAVs and why the modernization of old and / or existing ones has been slow and why Iranian drones are not yet taken seriously.

It’s not like things have improved in the next few years. In contrast, for most of the late 2000s and most of the 2010s, various factions of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the regular militaries are still literally argued “over who would get what motors and electronics they managed to smuggle from abroad. This was equally important because there are many Western embargoes and sanctions against Iran, and therefore Western high-tech is always hard to find. (even if they are far from “impossible to obtain”). No doubt there were many ideas and, despite the massive brain drain, many good intentions and none other than good prototypes of the UAV. However: most of them were affected by a combination of corruption and infighting, and in general the whole Iranian UAV industry, like most of the Iranian defense sector, was getting nowhere.

Fatal Syria

Then several important events took place. Starting in 2011, the IRGC launched a military intervention in Syria. Due to fears of a possible reaction from the West, this was a covert operation that required minimal presence ”of the IRGC in this country. His Expeditionary Force “- Forces Codes »KSIR (IRGC-UK) – involved relatively few own troops (maximum 3-4 battalions): most of them, in fact, served as advisers to the Assad regime and commanded and controlled selected local militias. Managing relatively small units on a large battlefield required greater situational awareness – good intelligence is required for this. Therefore, the IRGC quickly began deploying its HESA Shahed-129 tactical reconnaissance UAV in Syria. The first of these, as far as I can remember, I saw in a video that appeared in 2012, and by 2014 they had become a common sight in much of western Syria, but especially in Damascus and Aleppo.

Strategic alliances

Spending about $ 50 billion trying to save Assad between 2011 and 2014, albeit without much success (as usual, Bashar and his people inner circle “pocketed most of the funds and the rest was spent either on good public relations in the West or on the loyalty of various military leaders) – the IRGC-UK was deterred by a series of defeats. In 2015 , this was instrumental in persuading Putin to launch a military intervention in Syria, which was useful for the latter as he was placed in international isolation after the invasion of Ukraine.

However, at the time, the IRGC was aiming for much more: it sought to establish a strategic relationship with Putin. (those. with Russia). As always, Putin is arrogant and shortsighted (as Medvedev) not only said no, “but stopped the export of anti-aircraft missile systems (SAM) S-300 and many other weapon systems ordered by Iran (start an international case that was supposed to last for years and cause massive financial damage to Moscow). At the same time, he insisted that the Russian army commands and controls everything and everything in Syria. Consequently, once the Russians began their operations in the country, they and the Assadists fought their own battle; IRGC-UK and its local allies – theirs. The tension has increased so much that the Iranians were said to be trying to overthrow Bashar and “only” Russian troops managed to prevent it.

Putinskoe no “had far-reaching implications for the strategic plan

Gradually, over the course of 2017, they mended their relationship and the Iranians accepted the Russians pretending to be mediators in Syria. Instead, they began to expect their semistate to emerge in the background. After all, Putin has nothing to offer the IRGC-UK initiative to convert Syrians to the Shia Twelver religion through jobs in Iranian cultural centers in Latakia, IRGC-owned ammunition factories in other parts of the country, or through exchanges. free study programs in Iran.

First of all: Putin no “had far-reaching implications for the strategic plan. The IRGC then turned to Beijing for a strategic partnership. This was organized within a few weeks, somewhere between late 2015 and early 2015. 2016, and since IRI (Islamic Republic of Iran) was filled with petrodollars, it soon reached a level where the quality of relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) easily surpassed those between the People’s Republic of China and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Suddenly, over the next two years, Iran began not only the development but also the actual mass production and commissioning of a number of high-tech weapon systems. They range from major upgrades to older anti-aircraft missile systems (SAM) of American and Soviet-Russian production to the emergence of completely new SAMs, some of which are said to be superior to the Russian S-300s and S-400s – and the emergence of numerous mature UAV / UAV systems.


Undoubtedly, there are great technical universities in Iran, which produce thousands of highly skilled scientists, who, in turn, publish a huge number of scientific articles. So much so that it caused some concern in Israel. In 2016-2018 The Jerusalem Post has started voicing concerns, such as “whether Iran will win the tech war”. Undoubtedly, the IRI it “inherited” a well-developed defense industry, acquired by the United States in the time of the Shah in the 1970s.

However, due to the futility of the IRGC regime in Iran, there is a massive brain drain: in fact, a huge number of young intellectuals are leaving the country. Corruption is endemic and therefore no new project has a serious chance of being implemented without significant political and financial support from various factions of the IRGC. That is why many local companies still produce, for example, cars based on the technology of the 1970s: it works “because it helps maintain the status quo “between the different factions.

Furthermore, many of the scientific papers published by Iranian scientists were either fakes or nothing more than copies of existing Western documents.

What actually happened is that the IRGC made the most of its new ties with the PRC and hired the Chinese not only to transfer know-how en masse, but also to help build and strengthen, among others. things, the Iranian UAV industry.

This has played in the hands of Beijing, because if the Chinese have clearly outperformed their Western and Russian competitors in the past 10 years, it is on the pitch. customer service”.

They don’t just offer their products, they offer products tailored to the customer’s needs and if the customer is ready to cooperate at the appropriate level and is solvent, Beijing has no problem with order “state-owned companies such as China Poly Group, China Electronic Technology Group (CETC) and the 14th Institute share ”something in the area of ​​some of the most sensitive advanced technologies. In fact, to help the customer launch domestic production.

In this case, the deal was relatively simple: in exchange for Iranian combat experience and projects, China’s leading scientific institutions conducted research and development, and the Chinese industry then helped launch mass production in Iran. In other words: China has provided comprehensive customer service, from helping to identify Iranian requirements to actual commissioning of received weapon systems. “Bonus” (from a Chinese point of view): the latter requires constant use of high technology made in China “, which means that the Chinese can not only monitor Iranian production, but also follow the latest combat experience and progress regarding further development. Profits are guaranteed for years to come.

The only conditions “that the Chinese demanded in return (apart from the payment, of course), were:

– no transfer of acquired know-how to third parties,

– Ban on IRI (in fact, this is the IRGC) for such cooperation with any third country or authority,

– all products of this cooperation are officially and constantly declared as produced in IRI (it is so true that even the nameplates made in Iran “made in China and installed there).

The Chinese are not at all interested in ruining their commercial relations with the West or being subject to embargoes and sanctions for “collaboration with a rogue state”: after all, corporations like the Poly Group are not only engaged in military projects, but also. .. by the way – they are responsible for importing Western luxuries such as cars into the PRC Ferrari.

New lease for life

Having developed various Iranian concepts and projects, the Chinese have been involved in the transformation, reorganization and modernization of a number of factories in Iran. This was accepted by the various cabals within the IRGC, because that way each of them could get their share – and that’s for years to come, whereas previously only a handful of groups profited from smuggling technology. Western manufacturing from the United Arab Emirates. In addition, the Emirates have charged up to 300% of the market price for the equipment provided. In other words, the Chinese have helped the Iranians to produce better, more powerful and even lower cost UAVs.

Perhaps the best example of the results is that while previously the IRGC – the Iranian defense sector – could never develop a solution to convert their unmanned aerial vehicles like the Shahed-129 into unmanned military aerial vehicles, and he could not research and develop a precision guided mini ammunition (PGM) for them, now the Iranian industry does not only produce them in large quantities. In fact, it is also engaged in the serial production of mini-PGMs. In this case, the Chinese started with an Iranian version of the American BGM-71 TOW called Toophan to help develop the Sadid-1. It was 2017 (“or thereabouts”): meanwhile the Iranians are now producing missiles of the class air-to-ground “Sadid-345, Sadid-361 and Fat’h-362. Two or three years ago they also demonstrated a missile of the class air-to-air “based on the aerodynamic design of the rocket air-to-air “AIM-9 Sidewinder for their UAVs.

(Keep on)

The follow-up will be published in the Opinions section. Keep for updates.

Translation NV

Text published with the author’s permission. Printed for the first time medium.com

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