A series of recent military mishaps makes it clear that Iran has failed to invest in its regular armed forces, even as it heavily bankrolls the IRGC amid an economic crisis.
According to the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy (IRIN), one of the country’s largest naval ships sank June 2 after catching fire while on a “training mission” off the port of Jask in the Gulf of Oman.
The same day, a huge blaze broke out at a major oil refinery in southern Tehran that is responsible for providing the bulk of the capital’s fuel.
Two days earlier, an ejector seat malfunctioned on an Iranian F-4 from the 1960s which was being repaired, state media reported. Two pilots were killed in the incident.
On May 23, nine people were injured in a blast at a plant producing explosive materials in central Iran, local media reported, while three days later, a pipeline explosion at a petrochemical complex near Iran’s Gulf coast left one dead.
In April, an explosion at Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment facility put the spotlight on the flaws of the Iranian regime’s internal security.
In May 2020, an Iranian warship was hit by friendly fire during a naval exercise off Jask, killing the 19 sailors onboard.
Analysts say these recent events, seen as part of a years-long series of deadly incidents, bring into question the efficacy of Tehran’s military strategy and the preparedness of the Iranian armed forces.
“Iran’s approach to military funding is problematic,” said a former Iranian navy analyst, following the recent military mishaps.
“Officials are effectively trying to fund two militaries, while showing a clear preference for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC),”
“This means the conventional military is underfunded in all areas: training, equipment, weapons and hardware,”
“To maintain existing equipment, they keep cannibalising old military equipment manufactured before the 1979 Islamic Revolution,” he said.
US-based Iran analyst Jason Bahari described the vessels of Iran’s aging fleet as “floating museums”.
“The government retrofits them with rocket launchers and slightly tweaked radars,” he explained. “But the basic technology is 50 years old or older.”
Aging equipment is just part of the problem, analysts said, noting that the IRGC Navy’s unprofessional conduct has drawn international rebuke, as it puts lives at risk and reflects poorly on the entire Iranian military apparatus.
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