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Iran: Domestic Arms Production
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security > Arms Acquisitions > Domestic Arms Production


The Iran–Iraq War and the subsequent Western arms embargo stimulated the full reorganization and expansion of Iran’s defense industries. As imports remained at low levels in the early 2000s, domestic arms production played an expanding role in military procurement.

In late 1981, the revolutionary government placed all of the country's military industrial enterprises under the authority of the Defense Industries Organization (DIO), which replaced the Military Defense Organization as the oversight agency for military factories. In 1983, however, the IRGC received authority to establish its own military plants, ending the DIO’s monopoly. The following year, IRGC plants began producing a variety of arms and military supplies, a function that continued in the 2000s.

Beginning in the 1990s, Iran has manufactured a variety of rockets, missiles, and multiple-rocket launchers, some based on imported technology such as the Soviet Scud–B rocket, and others fully developed by the Iranian arms industry. A mutual defense treaty concluded with India in 2003 promised technical assistance for Iran’s domestic manufacture of aircraft, tanks, and artillery. The missile development and manufacturing arm of the DIO is the Aerospace Industries Organization (AIO), based at Arak, whose 13 large manufacturing plants also produce a wide variety of weapons, ordnance, and equipment for Iran’s military and for export. The AIO is responsible for development of the long-range Shihab–3 missile. Domestically produced surface-to-surface missiles reportedly in the arsenal in 2005 were the Oghab, Shahin, and Nazeat, the last of which was developed with Chinese technical assistance. Since 2002 the Iran Helicopter Support and Manufacturing Industry has built small numbers of the Shabaviz 2075 transport helicopter, the Shabaviz 2061 reconnaissance helicopter, and the Shabaviz 2091 attack helicopter, all based on designs of the U.S. firm Bell Helicopter. The Iran Helicopter Support and Manufacturing Industry also has rebuilt U.S.-made Chinook transport helicopters acquired in the 1970s and 1980s. In 2001 Iran began production of the Azarakhsh fighter plane, an upgraded version of the U.S. F–5. Plans called for production of 30 such aircraft in the early 2000s. Iran is believed to have developed a substantial submarine manufacturing infrastructure, the first product of which was the Qadir minisubmarine in 2005. In 2006 two such vessels were known to exist.

Last Updated: January 2008

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Iran was first published in 1987. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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