The core point: there wont be any attack on Iran. It would cost too much for all sides involved. All this pressure is simply to push through a new round of sanctions on Iran.
If attack on Iran happens anyway, two scenarios possible:
1. Air-strikes only.
Since nuclear and other critical facilities are dispersed and most are deep underground and well protected, air-strikes would have a limited impact. Iran might even not retaliate on a large scale
if damage is minimal
, to avoid confrontation growing to a full-scale war.
Israel is the main force behind possible attack on Iran,
and their reasoning is based on a lie - Iran president never said "we will wipe Israel off the map", its a fake mistranslation, and yet its the cornerstone of Israel's foreign politics and a possible war against Iran! Iran president simply said: "The Zionist regime
will pass away, just as Soviet regime
fell in Russia." In the same speech further: "The human and civil rights of all people, including Jews, Christians and Muslims must be respected."
Air-strikes most definitely wouldnt change Iran's nuclear (peaceful or otherwise) ambitions, if anything - they might push
Iran to withdraw from NPT, kick out IAEA from the country, and start making ultimate deterrence
- nuclear bombs.
2. A full-scale war.
Its the only hypothetical solution to take from Iran nuclear ambitions - by changing (i.e. killing) current government and pretty much everyone who supports it, and placing puppet regime instead.
Attack should happen in all fronts - air, navy, ground and info war.
US have the strongest NAVY in the World, however its vulnerable to swarm attack, as shown in Millennium Challenge 2002, when most of US Navy was destroyed in an exercise: Millennium Challenge 2002 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
US is trying to address swarm issue
with Mk 38 Mod 2 machine gun (reliable up to 2,5 km, when target moves as predicted) and helicopters Hellfire (in the future might include Rayguns, etc).
Several issues with this defense - speedboats dont even have to come close, Iran's anti-ship missiles have 15-300 km range, up to 2000 km if we include Sejjil and other ballistic missiles (Iran recently successfully tested 2 such missiles hitting targets at 1900+km range in Indian ocean). Hit and run swarm strategy by hundreds of missile boats should still be very effective, plus specifically against US helicopters Iran developed new missiles as well.
US Navy defense against missiles:
Remember how a single
1st generation Iranian Kowsar did major damage and almost sunk the best Israel 5-Class corvette? Israel said their defense was down, and regardless if we believe them or not, consider the fact Iran has thousands of 3rd generation Kowsar's, and its the weakest anti-ship missile in Iran disposal!
US would use their most advanced AEGIS ABM with SM-3, in controlled tests it has success rate 80+% (1-2 missiles at the same time). If there are more missiles - intercept accuracy significantly drops, and after ~13 tries to intercept missiles, ships run out of initial battery and becomes exposed.
US Naval War college estimates:
"The U.S. Navy’s Targeting Problem.
The Navy would almost certainly fire two ABMs (AEGIS SM-3) against each of the incoming ASBMs. Doing so would of course increase the probability of a successful intercept. However, with only twenty-four or twenty-five ABMs aboard, each Aegis ship escorting a carrier would at that rate be able to engage at most thirteen ASBM
"the fact that many kinds of penetration aids are quite cheap relative to ABMs is one reason why the United States cannot “buy its way out” of this problem."
simultaneous attack of wide range missiles, speedboats, subs, etc. 30-50 various missiles per warship
plus decoys ("Persian Gulf", Ghader, Qiam, Kowsar, Nasr, Noor, Raad, Fajre Darya, underwater Supercavitation torpedo Hoot, various other torpedoes, mines, etc), and no US warship can survive that, maybe except aircraft carriers. For those Iran might use several more ballistic missiles (or not - if intention isnt to sink but to disable them - who needs sunken carriers with nuclear reactors in the backyard waters? ;-)
Bottom line: US Navy will keep out of Persian Gulf if the war starts, unless they want to provide high-tech houses for the local coral reef ;-) Most likely Navy would stay at reasonably safe 2000+ km distance. This would limit their contribution, but its better than a sunken fleet.
Iran most definitely inferior head-to-head in air combat. Iran's SAM, AAA, etc. are quite decent, and should provide quite a challenge for US/NATO forces. Also Iran instead of few large stationary radar systems, focuses on mobile radars, including stealth detecting, passive/untraceable ones. Thus US airforce cant destroy them all, as it usually does as soon as they attack some country.
"Israel itself predicts that a major air assault to knock out Iran’s nuclear facilities would involve the loss of fully one-third of the planes
, which would be knocked out by missiles and Russian-provided air defense systems." And thats one wave, if each wave loses 1/3 of the planes, very soon Israel wouldnt have any airforce at all ;-)
As mentioned above, US Navy would most likely stay 2000+ km away, and as admitted by US:
"U.S. Air Force can conduct air operations most efficiently from bases no more than five hundred miles away from the target."
US bases in near-by countries are all within reach of Iran's ballistic missiles. In the first few days of the war, those bases should be either destroyed, or at least unusable for aircrafts.
for airstrikes USAF main weapon would be long range bombers and cruise missiles, some of them would be intercepted. Considering US limited airstrikes and well protected underground critical facilities, damage against those would be limited, however more extensive against civilian objects. US would try to destroy power lines, water supplies, etc.
* Ground forces.
If US/NATO wants to win over Iran, ground forces are essential. However that's were the most casualties would come from, for both sides. Iran has well trained and armed 1,2 million soldiers (regular army and reserve), plus 12 mln. trained volunteer forces. They know terrain inside-out, they have extensively prepared for both direct and guerrilla warfare.
Some people tend to dismiss Iran's army, but consider Iranians combat spirit and motivation - Iraq started war against newborn revolutionary regime with no real army (Shah's army was disbanded), Husein got help from US and Russia, and still
couldnt win, even tried WMD, Iranians just weren't afraid to sacrifice themselves for the country.
We saw another recent example in Hezbollah-Israel
war. Israel has one of the best militaries in the World, while Lebanon is the next door weak neighbor, and yet Israel couldnt win against 1000 Hezbollah members plus 6000+ Hezbollah volunteers, trained by Iranians. Consider Iran has over million of such trained soldiers, and over 12 million volunteers. Iran's terrain is better suited for guerrilla warfare, and they are better and more extensively armed than Hezbollah. Need I say more? NATO simply cant win, all they could do is to temporarily occupy parts of Iran, but due to heavy loses and high cost, its only a matter of time till NATO retreats. Iranians are prepared to die in millions for the country, how about NATO forces?..
* Information war
West would win, no question about it. Most people in the West would believe
its all "evil" Iran's fault, how they're making nuclear bombs to attack poor West and Israel (with no evidence, but who cares - worked with Sadam, isnt?).
some argue if Iran would be beaten in the initial direct battle and occupation starts, Iran lost the war. In reality after attackers would break through the defenses, war doesnt end, it begins for Iranians.
Why? No country in the Middle East could beat US/NATO head on, so initial defenses are meant for deterrence and inflicting some damage, and despite patriotic Iran claims how they would repel the attack, they cant, and they know it better than us.
If you follow Iran's military industry
, their goal isnt static, concentrated military, but extremely mobile, dispersed and hidden weaponry, with a massive preparations of underground/cave facilities for guerrilla war. Even their new pride - ballistic Sejjil-2 can be hidden and used from anywhere.
If you think NATO has issues with Afghanistan (Taliban more or less controls 54-72% of the country, after a decade of war with NATO!). Thats only 35.000 people with a locals support, with ancient weapons. Now consider Iranians would fight in millions, with quite advanced weapons and very extensive stockpile, probably with factories deep in the mountains to make more weapons in case of war. If Afghanistan cost NATO 4+ trillions, how much Iran would cost? How many loses NATO could sustain? In my opinion, US and EU would bankrupt faster than win over Iran
, or even more likely - there wont be any war in the first place.
That was about Iran, how about other unavoidable outcomes of the war:
1. Israel would not only receive a lot of high-impact precise ballistic missiles from Iran (2000, or so they claimed a year ago), but also Hezbollah and Hamas would do all they can, it wont be pretty. Its possible such war would actually end up with Palestinians regaining lost territories, and Israel would be lucky to keep '67 borders.
2. Severely disrupted oil and gas flow. ~25% of World supply would be cut off during the war. Prices would skyrocket, a lot of countries economies would suffer, some are on the verge of bankruptcy already
, war wont help them by any means.
3. Ultimate winners of such war - China and Russia. While US, Israel and EU influence in the region would significantly decrease, especially if/when they lose the war.