RE: Rock the Casbah!
"......they're a fairly canny bunch and quite self sufficient militarily....." No, they're anything but. When it comes to tech, they are just into copying or modifying old tech or buying it in from Russia, China or North Korea. All their much-hyped "developments" are obvious jokes to anyone with a clue.
The perfect example is the Iranian "Saequeh" jet fighter, which is very obvioulsy just an old Northrop F-5A with the single-fin replaced with twin-fins. The F-5A was designed in the '50s for the US military aid program, and was deliberately limited in capability to give friendly Third World countries a barley supersonic fighter that was capable of reasonable air-def, without giving them the strike ability to threaten neighbours with. It has been ridiculed as "having the range to carry a matchbox the length of a football field", yet the Iranians claim their Saequeh has a mission range of "3000km" and can match the ability of an F/A-18! F-22 pilots should have no trouble clearing them from the skies.
Their indigenous MBT, the Zulfiqar, is nothing more than a hodge-podge of old US M-60 and Soviet T-72 parts, neither being tanks of particular note and definately not viable on the modern battlefield. The fire control system is also an import from Slovenia and about twenty years behind NATO designs. In a fight against even the 90's tanks that kicked Saddam out of Kuwait, the Iranian tanks would be cannonfodder. Against modern NATO tanks they would be little more than target practice.
Their missiles are all imports - the Shahab ballistic missile family they hope to put a nuke tip on is nothing more than a licensed copy of the North Korean Rodong 1, and they had the Norks set up their missile factories for them. The Rodong in turn is just a developed copy of the ancient Soviet SS-1 Scud. The Fajr missile the Iranians claim has MIRVs with radar-avoiding technology has never been seen to launch successfully, let alone deliver MIRVs, and is again a copy of Soviet '60s tech sold to Iran by the Chinese.
Iranian drone tech? Their best would be the Karrar, another hodge-podge of Western and Soviet tech in a frame copied from the MQM-107 target drone from the '70s. Again, the Iranians have made many wild claims for capability but have never demonstrated any of them. At best, the Karrar would provide amusement for NATO interceptors and SAMs. Other Iranian drones include the Ababil, a poor copy of the Predator, only with less than half the capability. Of the three Ababil drones launched by Hezbollah all three were shot down by the Israelis in short order. The Iranians did attempt an Abibal flight into Iraq in 2009, but it was shot down by an F-16. The other "mass-produced" Iranian drone is the Mohajer, a toy that has only been recorded making an operational flight once, when one was flown into Israel by Hezbollah, but crashed into the sea before the Israelis could shoot it down, so hardly a success story.
The Iranians like putting out propaganda about amazing Iranian military developments, but they all prove to be nothing more than copies and old tech. A perfect example of this blatent lying is the Hoot "supertorpedo", which is just a copy of the Soviet VA-111 Shkval, again more 60's/70's tech. The Iranians flatly refuse to admit it is a copy, even though Russian experts have pointed out design points that could only have come from the Shkvall. This propaganda has two purposes - to fool the Iranians into thinking they have a technologically capable and proficient economy, and for fodder for those in the West that want to believe.