Iran Versus Israel — How Their Forces Compare

While Iran has many number advantages, Israel has some crucial quality advantages.

    2021/08/11

NSFW    MIDDLE EAST — The recent deaths of two ship workers in a mysterious drone strike on an oil tanker highlighted a shadow war between Iran and Israel that could escalate into a real war.


We compared the militaries of the two sides and found that while Iran has many number advantages, Israel has some crucial quality advantages. Here are the details:


We looked at the military strength of Iran and Israel and found that Iran’s much larger population of 84 million versus the roughly 9 million people in Israel allows Iran to field an active-duty force of 525,000 troops, compared to Israel’s 170,000.


Iran has more tanks, but these are mostly T-72s and copies of the T-54 and T-55, which are widely considered inferior to Israel’s Merkava Mark 4.


Israel’s air force is larger and much more modern than Iran’s, with 66 F-15s, 175 F-16s and at least 27 F-35 stealth fighters, with plans to own 75 F-35s in total.


Iran’s air force consists of 63 old F-4s and 26 old F-14s, as well as 19 MiG-29s and 23 Su-24s from Russia and 17 F-7s from China.


Israel also possesses 48 attack helicopters, compared to Iran’s 12.


Iran’s navy is larger and is modernizing but Israel’s navy has advanced missiles and vessels, and it can likely also launch nuclear-armed cruise missiles from its five Dolphin-class submarines, which are believed to operate near the Persian Gulf.


Thanks to U.S.-led sanctions, Iran likely has no nuclear weapons on its 29 submarines.


Iran pursued nuclear capabilities in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and while Tehran says it doesn’t seek nuclear weapons now, its recent enrichment activity has raised questions about its true aims.


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