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Defense Industry in the Imposed War

After the revolution of 1979, the resulting Western arms embargo and the outbreak of hostilities with Iraq motivated both expansion of Iran's defense industries and the short term acquisition of arms on the clandestine market. The outbreak of hostilities with Iraq and the Western arms embargo served as catalysts for reorganizing, reinvigorating, and expanding defense industries.

In late 1981, the revolutionary government brought together the country's military industrial units and placed them under the Defense Industries Organization (DIO) of the Ministry of Defense, which would supervise production activities. By 1987 the DIO was governed by a mixed civilian-military board of directors and a managing director responsible for the actual management and planning activities. Although the DIO director was accountable to the Deputy Minister of Defense for Logistics, Iran's President, in his capacity as the chairman of the SDC, had ultimate responsibility for all DIO operations.

In 1983 the establishment of other military industries (under the control of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC)) was also authorized. The monopoly of the regular armed forces over domestic arms production and repair industries ended when the SDC authorized the Pasdaran to establish its own military industries. This new policy was in line with the Pasdaran's growing political and military weight. The IRGC industries focused on missiles, missile warheads, and aircraft. Beginning in 1984, the first Pasdaran armaments factory manufactured 120mm mortars, antipersonnel grenades, various antichemical-warfare equipment, antitank rockets, and rocket-propelled grenades.

The Iran-Iraq war provided the principal motivation for the expansion of the defense industrial base. The creation of a modern indigenous arms industry became an Iranian national goal. Large quantities of weaponry were needed, and there was a very high consumption of ammunition and logistics supplies. The international arms embargo, coupled with the rising costs of purchasing advanced equipment on the international market, forced the defense industry to focus on cheaper and less complex armaments. Surface-to-surface missiles emerged as a primary focus. In 1985 Iran decided to create a comprehensive missile production capability and associated technological base as a strategic national goal. Other areas of focus included small arms, artillery, and aircraft parts.

The defense industrial base was also distributed throughout the country, which helped local economies to develop. In addition to its traditional areas, the MIO expanded to missiles and missile technology, and the IAI expanded to the repair of aircraft and aircraft engines, and the production of radar and air defense systems. Iran also began to concentrate on the development of increased naval production capabilities. In all of these developments, direct and indirect technical help from many countries made it possible for Iran to rapidly expand the technical capabilities of her defense industrial base. These countries included China and North Korea, Pakistan, Israel, Argentina, Brazil, West Germany, East Germany, Taiwan, and the USSR.

By the mid-1980's, Iran had the capability to make armored vehicles, light and heavy weaponry, some advanced missile systems, some aircraft parts, and artillery. By 1986 a large number of infantry rifles, machine guns, and mortars and some small-arms ammunition were being manufactured locally. Iran could also adapt imported missile systems components, assemble fighters and some tanks, and produced other modern systems under licensed production agreements.

On several occasions, clerics delivering their Friday sermons in Tehran claimed that Iran was engaged in a full-scale military production program, and the Iranian press regularly reported the successful production of new items ranging from washers to helicopter fuselage parts. For example, the professional military displayed, at the Permanent Industrial Exhibition in Tehran, a collection of hermetic sealing cylinders for Chieftain tanks and artillery flame-deflectors with artillery pads. They also displayed Katyusha gauges, personnel carrier shafts, gears, gun pulleys, carriages for 50mm caliber guns, 155mm shells, bases for night-vision telescopic rifles, parts for G-3 rifles, various firing pins, and muzzle brakes for 130mm guns.

In 1987 the military took pride in being able to repair various transmitters, receivers, and helicopter engines. A number of unverified reports also alluded to the repair of the testing equipment of F-14 hydraulic pressure transmitters and generators. Similarly, Iran claimed to have manufactured an undisclosed number of Oghab rockets, probably patterned on the Soviet-made Scud-B surface-to-surface missiles the Iranians received from Libya. In mid-1984 the navy claimed to have successfully repaired the gas turbines of several vessels in Bandar-e Abbas. Moreover, Pasdaran units reportedly repaired Soviet- and Polish-made T-54, T-55, T-62, and T-72 tanks, captured from the Iraqis in 1982, at their armor repair center.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 02:45:46 ZULU