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Military-Civil Fusion: How Iran exploits 'Dual-Use' to expand Military Capabilities

Sukhoi Su-35SE 'Flanker E' serial 9212 in Egyptian Air Force color scheme undergoing pre-delivery flight testing. This aircraft is scheduled for delivery to the IRIAF during March 2023 after the Egyptian order was cancelled. Iran will most probably retain this color scheme until the system induction process is completed.


On December 23, 2022, four Airbus A340–300 passenger aircraft departed from Johannesburg O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB), South Africa, to Uzbekistan as per flight plans filed. The aircraft were kept in storage in South Africa since 2019 after its retirement from Turkish Airlines service in that year. According to the original flight plans, the final destination was noted as Uzbekistan, but when the aircraft arrived in Omani air space, all four aircraft deviated from its original flight paths into Iranian air space and disappeared from radar tracking. The following day Iranian civil aviation authorities confirmed that the aircraft landed safely without incident at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKA), and that search and rescue was not required. On December 29, 2022, the four A340–300 aircraft were visually confirmed by means of Airbus Sentinel-2 satellite imagery to be parked at Mehrabad International Airport in Tehran, the capital of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The primary concern about this event is that Iranian authorities (especially the IRGC), were aware of the final destination being Iran instead of Uzbekistan, and that this event was in fact a well executed deception operation to circumvent U.S. imposed sanctions relating to Iran’s ongoing nuclear program which is rapidly approaching weaponization maturity. So, why the secrecy? This operation started when the four Airbus A340–300 aircraft were purchased by a Hong Kong registered company, Avro Global Limited (CR No. 1916910), from Turkish Airlines and then registered in Guernsey before being flown to a 'neutral' country (but an ally to the Iranian regime). The SARS-CoV2 pandemic that followed caused for some delays in transfer of the aircraft, but the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, served as a perfect distraction for the aircraft to be transferred to Iran with little [U.S.] scrutiny since all eyes were focussed on Russia at the time. In December 2022, just before the departure of the aircraft from South Africa, all four aircraft were re-registered in Burkina Faso with temporary registration codes XT-AKA, XT-AKB, XT-AKK, and XT-ALM. Since the arrival of the four aircraft in Iran, the general assumption (based on speculative social media reporting), was that the aircraft will serve as passenger aircraft in service of either Iran Air or Mahan Airlines. Consequently, this event failed to draw much attention simply because it involves four 'old' Airbus A340–300 airliners with airframes nearly 30 years old, and generally considered outdated for economic use in major airlines from a competitive passenger transport perspective. Although this may be true in the normal world not subject to economic sanctions, a rising nuclear power Iran with a proven belligerent foreign policy does not fall into the category of normal which necessitates finer scrutiny of this event.

Airbus A340–300 parked at Johannesburg O.R. Tambo International Airport prior to its flight to Iran. This specific aircraft, XT-AKK, is one of the aircraft now in Iran. All four aircraft are retired from Turkish Airlines service, still resembling the basic Turkish Airlines red and white color scheme.

The often overlooked characteristic of the Airbus A340–300 model specifically is its second life utilization as a freighter with unique design features not necessarily relevant to any other A340 models. However, upon deeper analysis this event exposed a much greater strategy at play which highlights how Iran exploits the concept of Military-Civil Fusion (MCF) to enhance its strategic military capabilities, most of its strategic capabilities disguised as civilian and/or commercial operations.

What is Military-Civil Fusion (MCF)?

MCF basically implies the exploitation of 'dual-use' technologies suitable for both military- and civil/commercial utilization. With reference to Iran's MCF strategy, this basically involves the expansion of Iranian strategic military capabilities through the weaponization of existing civilian technologies of acceptable specifications to meet military requirements. Some of the advantages of MCF is that it offers rapid scalability in terms of military capabilities at relatively lower costs compared to traditional military specification technologies, less restrictive acquisition with reduced foreign scrutiny, and various opportunities to disguise military operations within the civil domain to enable plausible deniability. However, what the war in Ukraine illustrated well was the effectiveness of cheap improvised weapon systems in large quantities when utilized against [expensive] advanced military hardware through appropriate innovation which enables reduced operational costs, and reduced dependence on complex logistics and supporting industrialization.

The militarized Airbus A340–300 concept origin:

On September 30, 2020, the outgoing Chief of the South African Air Force (CSAAF), Lt Genl Fabian Zimpande Msimang (now retired), wrote within his farewell speech a confirmation note that the SAAF had signed off on the purchase of three retired South African Airways (SAA) Airbus A340 aircraft. This confirmation was never verbalized during his speech, but only written in his notes (as recovered from the trash after the event). Now, based on confidential insider information, the SAAF was considering the procurement of the available Airbus A340–300 model aircraft owned by the national carrier, South African Airways (SAA), which was grounded and undergoing business rescue at the time. The reason why the outgoing CSAAF withheld confirmation pertaining the planned acquisition was not disclosed, although political interference from influential members in government is suspected. However, this did raise the question why the SAAF considered the acquisition of Airbus A340–300’s, and how feasible the Airbus A340–300 is as a military multi-mission platform. A few days following the event, both the business rescue practitioners of SAA and the SANDF (South African National Defence Force) denied any plans to procure the three A340–300’s originally expected to be MSN 643, 646, and 651 due to their low hours and pristine state of serviceability.

However, before we continue with the South African needs assessment, we also need to understand the present Iranian situation for better context from a military point of view and how it relates to the original requirements assessment by the South African Air Force. As we explore this subject in greater depth, we identify a greater possible [unforeseen] effect resulting from this ‘minor’ perceived Airbus A340-300 transfer event between South Africa and Iran, by studying the feasibility and technical simplicity of the conversion and utilizing of the Airbus A340–300 as a low-cost military freighter with modular multi-missions capability. This factor, along with the fact that on January 16, 2023, (about 3 weeks after the arrival of the four A340’s in Tehran), Iranian MP Shahriar Heidari, a member of the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission of the Iranian Parliament, confirmed that the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) will receive a batch of new Sukhoi Su-35SE multi-role fighters from Russia during Q2 2023. These aircraft were originally ordered by the Egyptian Air Force under a deal worth around US$ 18 Billion, but due to the current Russian invasion of Ukraine, Egypt failed to take delivery of the aircraft due to international sanctions imposed on Russia. In return, Russia was running out of long-range strike options in Ukraine, and both Iran and Russia are sanctioned in terms of USD payment methods. A solution to both Russia and Iran was Russia trading the new batch of 24 Sukhoi Su-35SE fighters for equal value in return trade of Iranian made combat drones and missile systems in a trade deal valued at around US$ 20 Billion.

Sukhoi Su-35SE in Egyptian Air Force color scheme undergoing pre-delivery flight testing. As a result of Egypt failing to take delivery of the aircraft, Iran will be the new owner soon

The addition of the new Sukhoi Su-35SE multi-role fighters to the IRIAF fleet will drastically modernize its existing obsolete capabilities (newest fighters in service with the IRIAF are Mikoyan Mig-29 fighters delivered to Iran by Russia during the early 1990's). However, to fully enable the true capabilities of these platforms and their respective weapons systems, the IRIAF requires modern multi-mission (IFR, ESM / ELINT, AEW&C, Freight) platforms to effectively support these systems over greater distances reaching as far as current Iranian military operations in Syria. So, what options do the Iranians have, and how can the recent Airbus A340–300 procurement be the solution? To understand this, we need to look at the South African Air Force needs assessment justifying the [planned] procurement of the Airbus A340–300.

Summary of the SAAF needs assessment:

In sub-Sahara Africa, the South African Air Force (SAAF) remains the most advanced air force in terms of heritage, infrastructure, technical expertise and capabilities. During 2005, the SAAF became one of the launch customers of the Airbus A400M tactical / strategic airlifters when it ordered eight aircraft with an option to purchase an additional eight. However, due to unforeseen program delays and drastic changes in ZAR / EUR foreign exchange rates resulting from declining economic conditions in South Africa, the cost of eventual procurement of the Airbus A400M became too expensive for the SAAF, and the orders were subsequently cancelled. These orders originally intended replacing the Lockheed C-130BZ aircraft in service with the SAAF, some units having entered SAAF service in 1963. Another factor which contributed to the cancellation of the A400M purchase was the additional costs of replacing the existing airborne cargo and paratrooper delivery systems which were not suitable for use with the Airbus A400M platform at the time. There were no alternative replacement options due to government-imposed cuts on defense spending resulting in the SAAF having to contract expensive strategic airlift services from foreign private service providers operating Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft. As the SAAF budget gradually eroded due to constant government spending cuts and increasing USD inflation, the SAAF Lockheed C-130BZ fleet serviceability gradually declined to the point where the SAAF was struggling to support its foreign peacekeeping responsibilities in Africa. Also, the SAAF lost its long-range multi-mission capability relating to In-Flight Refueling (IFR) to enable extended operational range of its SAAB Gripen JAS-39 C/D multi-role fighter fleet, Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) / Electronic Warfare (EW), Search and Rescue (SAR), and long-range Troop Transportation and Freight, when it retired five Boeing 707 aircraft equipped for these roles around two decades ago. Initially the Airbus A400 system was intended to replace these capabilities utilizing modular multi-mission systems, but when the A400 sale was cancelled, the SAAF had no back-up contingency due to lack of funds.

A rare photo of one of the SAAF Boeing 707 special missions aircraft equipped with hose-and-drogue In-Flight Refueling system, and IAI Elta 8300 compact modular ESM/ELINT suite (which was publicly disclosed as "Emitter Locating Systems" for security reasons). This configuration was displayed during the inauguration of Nelson Mandela as President of the Republic of South Africa in 1994.

The 'side cheek' pods containing the IAI Elta 8300 ESM/ELINT sensors are removable, and were attached to the exterior fuselage with special brackets. The whole system was designed to be modular and multi-missions capable, and could be interchanged with minimal technical effort in a short period of time, depending on mission requirements. The interiors were also adapted for rapid interchange between ESM/ELINT systems interface, high-density airliner configuration (troop transport), cargo operations, or VIP configuration. The SAAF intended to regain this lost capability by procuring the Airbus A340-300's and retrofitting the sensors suites it still has available in storage since removal from the decommissioned Boeing 707's, the last operational aircraft retired on October 03, 2007. However, taking into consideration the depth of [covert] relations between the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and the current ruling political party in South Africa, concerns arise relating to the integrity of these systems, and whether Iran had any access to these classified systems for 'evaluation' purposes (to enable reverse engineering R&D).

The main consideration relating to the SAAF situation was what alternative best options were available to circumvent budget constraints limiting the procurement of costly MOTS (Military-Off-The-Shelf) multi-mission platforms. The solution was looking at suitable COTS (Commercial-Off-The-Shelf) systems availability with the ability to be adapted through minimal technical modifications to expand on required military capabilities. Now, the idea of militarizing a proven commercial product is not new, and the US Air Force operates a large fleet of various militarized versions of proven commercial systems, predominantly based on the various Boeing commercial passenger aircraft. The benefit of this approach ensures regular availability of spare parts and technical support through a global network of partners, which also drastically reduces fixed- and variable operating costs. Also, the majority air freight supporting the US global war on terror (GWOT) were delivered on freighters converted from retired passenger aircraft (mostly Boeing 747 freighters). So, the idea of purchasing a proven passenger aircraft and converting it into a modular freighter to support military multi-mission requirements made absolute sense form a cost-saving vs capabilities gained perspective, and the SAAF still had the institutional knowledge gained from operating multi-missions adapted Boeing 707 aircraft over a period of two decades until retirement of the last platform in 2007. However, with the addition of converted passenger aircraft to perform long-range multi-missions / freighter roles in support of military operations, these systems do not replace either tactical- or strategic airlift capabilities, but rather supplements these functions. For the SAAF, the original plan was to decrease the burden of long-range mission support on the more costly Lockheed C-130BZ fleet, while enabling expanded mission capabilities and reduced operational costs while supporting its foreign deployment missions. These aircraft would also enable the development of more efficient hub-and-spoke logistical supply capability which the SAAF does not have at present. From a platform suitability perspective, the Airbus A340–300 was the most common of all A340 models with 218 delivered globally. The South African aircraft were still in excellent condition having been maintained and operated by professional domestic based maintenance crews at O.R. Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg, and there was sufficient availability of spare parts and trained crews already in country (the majority of pilots being ex-SAAF as added bonus). So, setting aside any arguments relating to what would be considered the ideal military tactical / strategic airlifter, the main reason why the SAAF required the Airbus A340–300 was to enable the following special missions capabilities:

  • Strategic transport (Troop deployments, Supply missions, Antarctic support missions);

  • In-flight Refueling;

  • AEW&C / SIGINT / EW;

  • Long-range Maritime Patrol / Search & Rescue (Southern Ocean reaching Marion Island/Antarctica);

  • Humanitarian Support Missions; and

  • VIP Transport.

Also, present and future reality has highlighted the fact that the probability of the SAAF procuring ‘ideal’ strategic airlifters of military specification comparative to the Airbus A400M / Boeing C17 is extremely unlikely from a budget perspective, why this option was actually the only feasible option available to the SAAF to regain some lost capabilities within the medium term compared to limited-to-none (within class) capabilities at present.

In terms of military utilization of the Airbus A340, the French Armée de l’Air was the first military operator of the A340–200 in 2006 (ex-Austrian Airlines aircraft), currently used as strategic transport (troop deployments and supply missions), and VIP Transport. The Royal Air Force (RAF) utilizes the twin engine Airbus A330, a platform based on the A340 airframe design, but with greater limitations in terms of conversion for dedicated freight operations due to different landing gear layout and design. Looking at technical feasibility, the Airbus A340–300 is at present the most suitable civilian aircraft for replacing older Boeing 747 Cargo variants from both a CPFH and cargo load / capacity perspective. The majority USFOR-A / NATO ISAF cargo operations in and out of Afghanistan were performed by converted Boeing 747 Freighters, and not Lockheed C-5 Galaxy / Boeing C-17 Globemaster as would be expected mainly due to cost factors. The A340–300 is also by far much more economical to operate than the older Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft contracted by many air forces globally to support long-range supply missions in the absence of appropriate capability. The global pandemic also illustrated the importance of maintaining scalable cargo capacity to remain profitable while subject to restrictive passenger transport conditions. Since the outbreak of the recent global pandemic, the majority airlines faced closure if they failed to adapt to changing operational requirements. Airlines that operated the Airbus A340–300 immediately adapted to the changing business environment by removing all the seats and internal passenger support features from their aircraft and expanding cargo operations by loading palletized cargo in the main deck and lower hold without any structural modifications to ease supply problems caused by global supply network bottlenecks. The Airbus A340 serves this purpose extremely well, especially considering that the A340 was in part designed with a strengthened main deck for this repurposing later during its lifetime (based on lessons learnt from Boeing, looking at how all Boeing 747’s were repurposed through minor conversion to freighters upon reaching the end of economical passenger operations).

The Airbus A340-300 Freighter Conversion:

So, looking at the feasibility of converting the Airbus A340–300 to a strategic freighter, we need to look at the current certified A340 LCF (Low-Cost Freighter) program to appreciate the freighter capabilities of this aircraft. The program specifications for this passenger-to-freighter conversion incorporates the following modifications:

  • Supernumerary Area / Intercom / Emergency Equipment / Lavatory / Galley (aft of the flight deck);

  • Cargo loading system (CLS);

  • Forward Cargo Door CLS modification;

  • Installation of a Forward Lift (to lift cargo pallets from lower hold to main deck, easing ground handling operations in terms of aircraft loading);

  • Installation of an Aft Lift (similar to forward lift);

  • Aft Cargo Door CLS modification;

  • Main deck lights;

  • Systems Integration: ECS / Smoke Detection / Water & Waste / Drain / Oxygen / Fire Extinguisher System;

  • Interior Configuration: Main deck Class ‘E’ / Doors Deactivation / Window Plugs Optional;

  • 9G Barrier / Smoke Barrier / Access Door;

  • Removal of unnecessary pax operations items (where required).

‘Deep Stripping’ of structures, systems and materials are not required in the low-cost freighter configuration, and aircraft can be converted rapidly to fulfill various other missions utilizing modular special missions equipment. The LCF conversion requires only 6 weeks, and costs similar to a large cabin reconfiguration at around USD 6.5 - 8 million, which is only a small fraction compared to the initial capitalization of purchasing a new aircraft. Add these costs to a low acquisition cost of a relatively modern and low-hours passenger aircraft deemed unsuitable for cost-effective low-volume passenger operations selling between USD 8 - 25 million each (depending on current condition and remaining hours), and we have an aircraft that can add various advanced modular multi-mission capabilities to air forces operating on tight budgets, or subject to restrictive procurement options. Additionally, the Airbus A340–300 enjoys an abundance of spare parts availability for at least the next 20 years mainly caused by the premature retirement by passenger services operators seeking more economical solutions to improve profitability. However, various freight services operators have started to grow their Airbus A340 freighter fleets as older Boeing 747 freighters are retired.

Performance Considerations:

The Airbus A340–300 LCF offers a 65 tonnes gross payload (including Tare) at sea level, allowing for a 5,400 nm range. In other words, the main deck of the standard A340–300 provides for 44 tonnes load capacity without floor strengthening, and 41,4 tonnes existing load capacity in the lower hold. However, OEM compartment specifications limits the total aircraft to 65 tonnes, which nullifies the requirement for any costly main deck strengthening modifications. In addition to these performance figures, this conversion requires no external special loading equipment (something of relative importance looking at palletized freight handling into lesser equipped airfields especially common in austere environments), and it also does not require the installation of a main deck freight door for cargo not exceeding the 1.63 meters height limit of the lower fuselage cargo doors. For larger cargo requirements, a ‘plug safe’ main deck cargo door (MDCD) can be installed offering optimized dimensions (2.5 meters high x 3.5 meters wide) to save on MDCD structure weight, reduced maintenance and improved safety. The A340–300 also does not require a redesigned nose gear as required on Airbus A330 freighter conversions. Basically, this modification allows for the transporting of around 52 tonnes of palletized cargo which meets NATO military requirements (compared to the Ilyushin Il-76 palletized load capacity of 40 tonnes, and a maximum of 19 tonnes for the Lockheed C-130B with greatly reduced range compared to the Airbus A340–300).

In terms of redundancy, the Airbus A340–300 was designed for extended operations over water, hence the four engines design, which also improves hot-and-high performance compared to twins. A very important design feature of the Airbus A340–300 is that it is equipped with a centerline landing gear not found on most comparable commercial wide-body aircraft. The presence of the centerline landing gear drastically reduces stress under heavy loads to the under-wing mounted main landing gear, which is one of the primary considerations when converting passenger aircraft to freighters.

Exposed centerline landing gear on a German Air Force Airbus A340-300. This is a common desired feature by cargo operators when considering freighter conversions from passenger aircraft, a feature not available on many passenger aircraft.

How does Iran feature in all of this?

Within the current geopolitical environment we need to understand that Iran maintains friendly relations with the South African ANC government just as the South African ANC government is a political ally of Russia (via the African National Congress’ political alliance with Yedinaya Rossiya / United Russia, the dominant political party endorsing Vladimir Putin in Russia). Russia and Iran are also military allies. However, the Islamic Republic of Iran currently experiences embargoes and economic sanctions similar to what the Republic of South Africa experienced during the period 1962–1993. During the economic sanctions era of South Africa, the country achieved major industrial milestones, including the development of a self-sustaining domestic armaments development capability, to include a matured nuclear weapons program (which was disassembled prior to government power transition in 1994). When the ANC took over political power of the South African government in 1994, Iran was one of the first countries to approach their ANC allies to gain access to pre-1994 South African arms technologies, especially technical details pertaining the discontinued nuclear weapons program. This was a major concern to the West, with the British MI5 taking notice of Iranian attempts to influence former President Thabo Mbeki (during his Presidential term) to share South African military technology (predominantly relating to nuclear research, rocket and missiles technology, and other armaments development). The militarization program involving the five Boeing 707 passenger aircraft is also a product of the South African sanctions period with the technical assistance of Israel. At present, post-1994 South Africa is an important strategic partner to Iran, especially in terms of enabling sanctions circumvention (such as the acquisition of US manufactured spare parts for helicopter still in service with the Iranian military). South African experience in sanctions circumvention has also played an important part in Iran’s resilience to current US sanctions.

Looking at the recent transfer of Airbus A340–300 aircraft from South Africa to Iran, the point of this article is to highlight that in light of the current changing geopolitical landscape, low importance perceived events could have major effects if the greater details pertaining end-user requirements and strategy are not fully understood. Although the main purpose of the four A340–300 aircraft now in Iran might be to add capacity to either Mahan Airlines or Iran Air commercial passenger operations (as per open source information 'speculation'), the next event might not be for commercial purposes. However, we can already asses the likelihood of these newly acquired A340-300's being destined for military use by the IRIAF just by looking at Iran's current activities involving Military-Civil Fusion (MCF) programs.

An Overview of Iranian Military-Civil Fusion activities:


Since the February 24, 2022, Russian invasion of Ukraine, we have observed a rapid increase in air freight operations originating in Iran for final destination delivery of military aid to Russia in support of its war in Ukraine. One of the original aircraft identified as an IRIAF asset directly involved with military aid flights between Iran and Russia, is a Boeing 747-200F with civil registration number EP-SIH operating under the civilian air services markings of Saha Airlines. However, the civil registration for this aircraft is not a reliable tracking mechanism for this specific aircraft's operator history because it has changed its registration serials often since its delivery to the Iranian Air Force (pre-revolution) in 1977, although it has remained in service of the IRIAF (Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force) since delivery until present with military serial 5-8113.

Therefore, what we conclude from this summary is that Boeing 747-200F, MSN 21486, has been in Iranian military service since new delivery in 1977. The most recent [observed] operation of EP-SIH was on February 18, 2023, operating a [military aid] cargo flight from Iran to Moscow, Russia, on behalf of the IRIAF.

The activities relating to Saha Airlines EP-SIH also exposed other Iranian flagged 'civilian' aircraft utilized to support Russia with armaments deliveries originating from Iran. A total of 69 civil registered military aid flights were observed operating between Iran and Russia over the review period February 24 to November 03, 2022. The other IRIAF aircraft disguised as civilian operated freighters include:

Additional observations made during the period March 23 to November 03, 2022, involving Iranian (IRIAF) military aid flights to Russia include:

  • One (1) flight originated from Macau, PRC (EP-FAA, July 21, 2022)

  • One (1) flight originated from New Delhi, India (EP-FAA, September 03, 2022)

  • Six (6) flights originated from Yerevan, Armenia (EP-ICD, July 30 - Sep 11, 2022)

Summary of IRIAF military aid flights to Russia during the period March 23 - November 03, 2022.

Reaching the 1-year anniversary since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Iran (IRIAF) has delivered not less than 4,000 tons of military aid using the four civilian registered aircraft which is becoming more difficult to maintain due to lack of spares and increasing operating costs. The only modernization option the IRIAF has to replace these four aging aircraft, is the four Airbus A340-300 platforms now in Iran. What this simple flight tracking exercise also exposed was how the IRIAF utilizes civilian airliners converted to freighter configuration to support its foreign missions while operating under the disguise of 'civilian' air service operators as a means of enabling plausible deniability. However, air freight also has its limitations, why Iran also operates a fleet of maritime vessels resembling commercial cargo vessels to deliver larger volumes of heavier military hardware.


The most recent examples of Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) linked vessels were observed in the Caspian Sea delivering arms to Russia:

Shilan (ex Arkanoor-2), IMO 8727848. This vessel is owned by Admiral Shipping Company which is controlled by Ali Shamkani, the Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council. Shamkani founded ASC after retiring as the commander of the Revolutionary Guards Navy with the rank of Admiral in 2012.

Vanda (ex Arkanoor-3), IMO 8832083. This vessel is owned by Admiral Shipping Company which is controlled by Ali Shamkani, the Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council.

Bosco Gilan, IMO 9188752. This vessel is owned by Bonyad Shipping Company, a front company for Bonyad e-Mostazafan Foundation which is controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and the Supreme Leader of Iran.

Other Iranian flagged vessels include:

  • Soren, IMO 9202493

  • Kasra-1, IMO 8888848

However, these are not the only vessels engaged in Iranian arms trafficking, especially in support of Russian operations in Ukraine. The following 'commercial' Russian vessels owned by the Ministry of Defence via the front company Transmorflot LLC are also identified as common armaments transporters:

  • Port Olya-3, IMO 9481910

  • Musa Jalil, IMO 8846814

  • Amur-2522, IMO 8721480

  • Rybinsk, IMO 9203734

And lastly, Daryadellan LLC, an Iranian/Turkish/Russian shipping company managed by Hadad Yahya Mehdi & Co, operates a fleet of Russian registered vessels on behalf of the Ministry of Defence, one of the positively identified vessels being Amur-2528, IMO 8727850.


During the first week of March 2023, Iranian State media revealed various new IRGC Navy projects involving the conversion of retired commercial container vessels to multi-mission naval systems equipped with modular combat modules.