Missiles, Drones and Terrorists

Needless to say, the two weeks have been... eventful. A terrorist attack in Ahvaz shook the nation. At the parade in Tehran and on TV there were some defence achievements. Then the UN General Assembly witnessed another clown show by Netanyahu, this time about radioactive carpets. And finally, Iran responded to the terrorist attack.

A Zolfaqar missile blasts off from Kermanshah

Terror in Ahvaz

Among the 29 victims were conscripts, children and disabled veterans. A depraved attack claimed by ASMLA was described by a UAE official as "not a terrorist attack". Quite appropriate then, that very soon ISIS claimed the "not terrorist" attack, and a host of nations and organisations including the UN Security Council all condemned the *terror* attack. 

ASMLA claimed the attack in a live - and very welcoming - phone interview on Iran International, a Saudi-backed propaganda news channel based in London. A bit of good reporting by a former guest on some Iran International shows revealed a prominent Saudi shareholder, strange salary practices and other activities. 

At the same time, FDD's "Iranian" crack whore Saeed Ghasseminejad claimed the attack was a false flag.

A Three Pronged Strategy

The dynamics surrounding the terror attack are a showcase of the Saudi-UAE soft war campaign against Iran. 

ASMLA, as well as some other organisations like Jaish-ul-Adl and the PDKI, have strong GCC links. Their activities have accelerated and become more high-profile since MBS came into power in Saudi Arabia, and they are part of a campaign of terror seeking to create unrest and tension in Iran, maybe even to tempt Iran into an overreach like Saudi's in Yemen. 

They back this up with a strong disinformation campaign in both mainstream media (like Iran International's TV channel, and various state owned/influenced news sites like Al Arabiya and Gulf News) and, most prominently, social media. Twitter is the main battleground. First tried on Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE funded groups like the MEK started a very far reaching bot campaign impersonating Iranians who claimed to want sanctions, regime change, and war. Most of these accounts popped up around the December 2017/January 2018 protests. They are distinguished by the use of generic profile pics, crowns in their usernames, and lots of hashtags like #IranRegimeChange, #IranProtests, #WeWillReclaimIran etc. 

See all those crowns? By the way, that "Faranak Azad" character joined Twitter just 25 months ago and has 142 thousand tweets. Wish I had the time to tweet 5600 times a month...

They target prominent commentators and accounts on Iranian politics, like Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and NIAC founder Trita Parsi, and others. And of course whenever Trump, Pompeo, Netanyahu or anyone of that crowd comments on Iran, the bots are more than happy to fellate them. These posts almost entirely post in English, and the people they reply to indicate that they are intended to fool westerners into thinking Iranians are supportive of the sanctions being inflicted on them, and want more. After all, a US attack on Iran is the GCC and Israel's wet dream. In this particular case of the Ahvaz terror attack, the twitter bots were blaming the IR for not stopping the attack, or just calling it a false flag. I'm sure there were some other crazy theories along the way too.

The GCC is also involved in direct influencing of state policies towards Iran (in this case represented by Saeed Bademjanejad), with mixed results. The UAE is known to support the FDD, though it seems like the FDD are more of an Israeli asset. There are numerous other think tanks supported by the UAE. It seems the Saudis leave influencing in Washington to the UAE, (the Saudis' influence in the wider US comes through arms purchases), while they deal with lesser nations around the world like Tajikistan and Morocco (don't forget the mighty Djibouti) through sheer bribing.

Sacred Defence Week

Tehran Parade

By far the most important visible achievement at the Tehran parade was an 8x8 twin launcher for the Zolfaqar TBM. Clearly Zolfaqar has been identified as a high-capability system. The new off-road 8x8 TEL represents a step to increase the tactical mobility of the Zolfaqar over the older civilian-based TELs. The ability to launch 2 missiles from each TEL justifies the extra cost to make the system off-road capable. Behold, the Iranian Iskander.

Mobile Oerlikon GDF

Unknown launcher with 3 missiles on TEL (probably up to 6 can be fitted). Launch cells are similar to that of Sayyad, but visibly smaller. No specs as of yet.

The announcer said the range of the 3rd Khordad system had been extended to 105 km.

New Missile Tests

Two missile tests were shown on Iranian TV to mark Sacred Defence Week.

Probably the most notable test was of an improved Qiam ballistic missile. Conspicuous white guidance fins on the warhead enable pinpoint accuracy. There are also added tailfins (smaller than on the original Scud), probably to improve stability in the light of the added fins to the nose. I'm not sure if Qiam is still in production, but if it isn't then an upgrade to this standard wouldn't be hard to achieve. If it is in production, then that's still fine, because Qiam still has use as a cheap strategic bombardment weapon against enemies on the Arabian peninsula.


The other test was of a Hormuz-2 ballistic missile against a floating target. As visible in the images below, the Hormuz-2 is an ARH (Active Radar Homing) version of the Fateh-110. The small target boat had a radar reflector, but I imagine 300 metre long flight deck of a Nimitz carrier won't need that. A successful test of an ARH missile is significant for Iran, as it can be fitted to longer ranged anti-ship missiles with no penalty to accuracy. Of course, higher terminal speeds and heavy jamming will demand a more advanced seeker.


Credit to @NationalistPso on Twitter for the annotation, pointing out the radar reflector on the boat

The ARH seeker of Hormuz-2

Iran's Response

Iran responded to the terror attack just as it had to the previous ISIS terror attack in 2017. 6 missiles - a combination of Zolfaqar and Qiam missiles - were launched against ISIS targets in Eastern Syria. But there were still some critical changes.

Firstly, this time the Qiam didn't land miles off target. Well, one of the Zolfaqars did fail just after launch, but that's beside the point. The Qiams in this strike were the very recently revealed guided versions which were shown to demonstrate excellent accuracy. It's another example of Iran unveiling an important system after it was already in service, as it had done with the Emad missile. A wide upgrade of the Qiam fleet can make them more tactically useful, while remaining relatively cheap. They could even have Emad-like manoeuvring features which would make them harder to intercept. One of the Qiams had "Down with America/Israel/Al Saud" written on them. Clearly Iran didn't want the message of its strike to be be missed.

Qiam being raised for launch

Impacts filmed by UAVs seemed to be direct hits on buildings

Perhaps the most surprising part of Iran's response was the first combat use of the jet powered Saegheh/Simorgh UCAV. Iran has previously it intends to use an enlarged RQ-170 design as a bomber.

Flying wing UCAV with jet nozzle clearly visible

Opened bomb bay

Clearer image of bomb bay door, with Sadid-342 smart bomb being dropped. It seems like the Saegheh/Simorgh is capable of carrying 2 Sadids.

ISIS is a useful punching bag for Iran. No-one is going to criticise Iran for attacking ISIS, so they are a good target for posturing and shows of force that are in reality meant for others. When ISIS loses all the territory under its control, direct uses of force will reduce in frequency.

Video - Qiam and Zolfaqar launches

Video - Saegheh/Simorgh UCAV Combat Debut