Iran’s conventional weaponry is hopelessly out of date, and the country’s leaders know it, according to one expert.
But conventional military inferiority hardly fazes Tehran. Iran has found other ways of exerting influence on the world.
“Never have I seen a country more cognizant of its conventional military deficiencies,” Behnam Ben Taleblu, an expert on the Iranian military at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Sean Naylor of Yahoo News.
Iran’s regular armed forces, collectively known as the Artesh, oversees 420,000 people including 350,000 soldiers, 37,000 airmen, 18,000 sailors and 15,000 air-defenders, Naylor explained, citing Iran Military Power, a report from the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency.
Tehran also oversees an irregular force, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. The IRGC includes 150,000 ground troops. There are 20,000 people in its maritime militia and 15,000 in its air arm. The IRGC’s Quds Force, its special-operations branch, numbers 5,000 people.
The Artesh and the IRGC both depend on a mix of Russian, Chinese and American equipment, “the latter dating back to the United States’ support of Shah Reza Pahlavi,” Naylor noted.
“It is a grade-A 1970s military,” Taleblu told Naylor.
The Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force and the IRGC air wing together possess some 700 aircraft. Among the most capable are the IRIAF’s U.S.-made F-14s, around 24 of which remain in service from a batch of 79 of the planes that Tehran ordered before the revolution.