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New Iranian Artillery May Soon Reach Iraq And Syria

October 5, 2021
Via Iranian media.

It’s no secret that Iran organized a network of militias in at least four Arab countries and controls several armed groups scattered across West Asia. The greatest concentrations of these forces are in Iraq and Syria where they’ve grown large enough to rival conventional armies in size and complexity. The evidence of Iranian military products being delivered to these militias is anything but secret; the volume of weaponry alone is unparalleled and still growing. There’s even proof the IRGC plans on building entire militaries rather than just militias to directly confront its longstanding foes Israel and Saudi Arabia.

In May this year an exhibition was held in Tehran to promote the country’s military industries. Although the event was modest in size the products on display were impressive for their variety. At this point Iran’s state-owned factories have mastered the reproduction of Chinese, NATO, and Russian arms and equipment and are now at a stage of creating new military products that defy categorization. At a separate annex in the exhibition rows of armored and logistics vehicles were parked including Aras 2 pickup trucks. The Aras 2 is a light utility vehicle assembled in Iran and adopted for military use.

At the May exhibition it was confirmed the Aras 2 is optimized for combat though multiple variants–two types of mortar carriers and a fully enclosed vehicle supporting a large weapon station. (See picture above.) The Aras 2 mobile mortar is equipped with a copy of the Soviet vintage 2B9M Vasilek, which is also manufactured in China, but it’s assumed the Iranian variant has an 81mm caliber rather than the original 82mm. At the foreground of the same picture is a flatscreen TV where another type of mortar is seen attached to a truck bed. This could be an Aras 2 with a heavier 120mm mortar that’s emplaced on the ground by a hydraulic arm before firing.

The Aras 2 was revealed in 2019 together with a large 6×6 MRAP called the Raad. Since then at least eight variants have appeared in public. These include rocket artillery launchers for 107mm, 122mm, and 333mm munitions; Aras 2’s mounting heavy machine guns; Aras 2’s equipped for launching kamikaze drones; Aras 2’s with anti-tank missile launchers such as the Dehlavieh and an unidentified tube-launched munition. Since Iran’s regular armed forces have a sizable collection of artillery at their disposal the weaponized Aras 2’s look better suited for the Syrian and Yemeni battlefields where pickup trucks are ubiquitous as transports and fighting vehicles.

Iranian-backed militias are known to operate different types of small and large caliber artillery. The PMFs of Iraq possess 122mm, 130mm, and 152mm towed howitzers aside from battlefield rockets in many calibers. The outdated Safir jeep, whether mounting 12-barrel rocket launchers or recoilless rifles, is used by Hezbollah and all the Tehran-backed factions active in Iraq and Syria. The Aras 2 is dangerous not just because it’s superior to Toyota trucks repurposed with weapons but it’s tailored for mass-production and can be adapted for multiple roles, thereby sparing the end users the acquisition costs for expensive armored vehicles. What’s done on the Aras 2 applies to other wheeled vehicles and mobile anti-aircraft systems are no doubt available to Iranian proxies as well.

Together with Iranian-made MRAPs and UAVs the arrival of mobile artillery in theaters like Syria, where fighting continues against remaining Islamist factions, gives Iran the perfect tool for rebuilding its local proxies along conventional lines rather than keep them as militias. The emergence of an Iranian military within Syria complicates the possible outcomes for the decade-long civil war. The threat it poses to Israel is severe enough that it may trigger a separate confrontation on an inter-state scale. It’s common knowledge the IRGC have a command and control apparatus in Syria along with bases and reinforced structures for concealing long-range weapons. If a new Iranian-Syrian military formation is established its arsenal may rapidly expand thanks to the deliveries of Aras 2’s and their accompanying arms in large quantities.

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