Iran may have been languishing behind the curve when it comes to advanced military cyber capabilities, despite its sponsorship of attacks in the non-military sphere, but the country is determined to change that quickly. There is a recognition in Teheran that its military forces are vulnerable to “Great Satan’s” more advanced capabilities.
Last month, the U.S. launched an offensive cyber strike on Iran to disable the computer systems used to control rocket and missile launches. This was done instead of a conventional missile strike. It was heavily publicized. It sent a message to the world. For the U.S. to compromise Iran’s core command and control systems represented a material change to the battlefield dynamics.
This weekend, IRGC Commander Hossein Salami unveiled the Sepehr 110, a tactical battlefield communications unit, developed in Iran, designed to withstand electronic warfare compromises instigated by the U.S. to maintain the military’s command and control infrastructure.
Developed with the support of the Iranian Broadcasting Network, Salami claimed in state media that the new unit should be seen to “break the monopoly of the great powers in the field of advanced communications technologies.”
Time will tell whether this is a genuine achievement or wishful thinking. The objective is to secure Teheran’s command and control networks from offensive cyber attacks. According to state media reports, the system can operate in all relevant environments, on land, sea and air, transmitting both voice and data, impervious to penetration, interference and attack.
Salami claimed that “developments in the field of communications have made the system of command and control very accurate, delivering the right information at the right time—ultimately integrating all battlefield capabilities.” He added that this puts Iran “at the forefront in the field of ICT and command and control—we are not exaggerating our leadership in this area.”
“The Iranian system is invulnerable to hacks, eavesdropping, radio jamming, and electromagnetic disturbance,” reported state media. “Iranian military experts and technicians have in recent years made great headways in manufacturing a broad range of indigenous equipment, making the armed forces self-sufficient in the defense sphere.”
Coming this soon after last month’s U.S. cyber attacks, the message is that Teheran is now protected against such offensive action where it may not have been before. As I said, time will tell.