The duality between the United States and Iran continues. Tensions between the two countries escalated after the US drone strike killed KashemSolaimani. Iran also announced retaliation for the incident. Meanwhile, Iran has launched a missile attack on a US air base in Iraq. There are fears of war between the United States and Iran. But does Iran have the capability to wage such a war at all? According to the Global Firepower Index 2019, Iran ranks 14th in the world in terms of military capabilities. The country is followed by regional rivals Israel (18) and Saudi Arabia (25). The United States is at the top of the index. Russia and China are in the second and third place respectively. Analysts say that since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iran has become a little more friendly in its pursuit of arms and military technology from the West. And since it was banned in 2010, it has been completely shut down. Since then, Iran has been trying to develop a variety of weapons, weapons equipment and related technologies. In this case, Iran has been quite successful. In particular, Iran has come a long way in developing missile technology, drones and nuclear weapons. However, while Iran is capable of inflicting heavy losses on the enemy, it is not enough to win the conventional war against the mighty.
Let's take a look at how strong Iran is in military power
The mainstay of Iran's power is a variety of missiles. Basically, Iran's ability to carry out air strikes is relatively low. Therefore, Iran has focused on strengthening the missile system in a planned manner. According to the US Department of Defense, Iran has the largest stockpile of missiles in the Middle East. But they are not as perfect as in Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United States and the United Kingdom. In other words, Iran's missiles are not capable of hitting targets so accurately. But yes, they do have the power to spread sporadic destruction. According to the US Center for Strategic and International Studies, Iran's arsenal includes a wide range of short- and medium-range missiles. Iran has more than a dozen types of missiles. The Qiyam-1 missile has a range of more than 600 km. It can carry 650 kg of explosives. Iran used the missile against Islamic State (IS) in 2016. On the other hand, Shahab-3 is a natural ballistic missile with a range of more than one and a half thousand kilometers.
Iran has more than 50 medium-range ballistic missile launchers and more than 100 short-range ballistic missile launchers, according to the UK-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). Iran has recently been trying to seize intercontinental ballistic missiles. Necessary tests are also going on for this. On the eve of the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran halted development of long-range missile systems. But research firm Royal United Services Institute says it believes Iran has resumed that program in the current changed circumstances. Analysts say Iran's missiles are not as technologically advanced as those of Western missiles. However, they are enough to increase the damage. Most importantly, most of the countries in the Persian Gulf, including Saudi Arabia, are under Iranian missiles. Israel is also on this list. However, Israel has an advanced missile defense system. In May last year, the United States launched a state-of-the-art Patriot missile defense system to protect its allies in the Middle East. The United States has taken steps to block Iran's ballistic and cruise missiles. Retired US General James Marks says Iran's missiles are the biggest threat to the lives of US troops in the Middle East. There are currently about 60,000 US troops scattered across the Middle East. According to James Marx, Iran could launch an attack on these US installations at any time. It is also difficult for the United States or any other country to accurately identify these as missile launchers are scattered across the country.
According to IISS, the number of active members of the Iranian army is about 523k. Of these, there are 350k regular force members. And the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps has 150k members. The Navy is under the Revolutionary Guard. The force has about 20,000 members. On the other hand, a specialized unit called 'Basij' is also controlled by the Revolutionary Guards. The members of this unit are mainly used to suppress dissent within the country. However, these military trained soldiers are also qualified to take part in conventional warfare. The unit is thought to have several million members. Iran also has the Quds Force. These forces are specially trained to conduct unconventional warfare, shadow warfare and covert operations on foreign soil. An estimated five thousand members of this force. The idea is that members of the Quds Force are scattered throughout the Middle East.
Iran does not have nuclear weapons. Just as Iran itself has not made any announcements in this regard, neither have Western intelligence agencies ever received such assurances. However, Iran has important materials and technology to build a nuclear weapon. In 2015, then-US President Barack Obama said it was possible for Iran to build a nuclear weapon in two to three months with the help of the materials and technology it has. Later that year, a nuclear deal was struck with Iran. With Trump's country out of it and Khamenei's country no longer bound by the nuclear deal in the current tense situation. As a result, it would not be surprising if Iran resumed its nuclear weapons program. However, military experts believe that it will take time for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon due to the lack of advanced Western technology.
Iran has been using drones on the battlefield for several years. Iran has used these drones made in domestic technology against IS in Iraq in 2016. Iran is supplying the technology to its regional allies as well as to its own use. Iran has invested heavily in unmanned drone technology. The United States and Saudi Arabia have accused Iran of carrying out an attack on a Saudi oil well last year, using drones. However, Iran has denied the allegations. But since Iran shot down a US spy drone last June, it is clear that KashemSolaimani's country has mastered drone technology. Analysts say Iranian drones are not as advanced as US drones. It is not possible to launch missiles or rockets from these. But Iran is building 'suicide drones' as an alternative. The name of these drones is 'Rad 75'. These drones can be used to carry out suicide attacks by adding explosives. Most importantly, Iran is building these drones itself.
Iran has none of the US warships, such as aircraft carriers or missile launchers. In response, Iran has built thousands of small-armed ships. Small missiles can be fired from these vessels. Iran demonstrated this strategy in a military exercise in 2015. It shows that even with these small ships, Iran can defeat large warships in a very effective way. According to IISS, Iran has about 3,000 to 5,000 such small vessels. These small vessels have been built with the Hormuz system in mind. And since the way to enter the Persian Gulf is the Strait of Hormuz, so if you can stop it, the fortress of Iran will be conquered! Apart from this, Iran has a huge number of marine mines. In 1986, a US warship almost sank after being hit by such a mine. But critics say most of Iran's mines are made using World War I technology. Although Real Admiral Ali Fadavi, then a top official in Iran's navy, said during a 2015 military exercise, his country had updated its mine technology so much that the United States could not imagine it.
Iran does not have the capability to carry out effective air strikes. Because, the advanced technology warplanes that are needed for this, have not been captured by Iran. However, Iran has developed a very effective air defense system. Carl Schuster, a former director of the Joint Intelligence Center at the U.S. Pacific Command Unit, said the United States would be the first to try to destroy Iran's defenses if war broke out. But that task is not easy. Iran itself has developed this defense system and developed a combination of radar and missile systems. One such Iranian-made defense system is called Sevam-i-Khordad. It is thought to have been used to bring down US drones. The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), a UK-based think tank, says Iran is capable of launching missiles even at warplanes flying high in the sky. In 2016, Iran received a ground-to-air long-range SA-20C missile from Russia. According to the US Defense Intelligence Agency, this is the most dangerous weapon in Iran's hands for air defense.
References: BBC, CNN, Newsweek, New York Times and Vox.com