Friday, January 18, 2013

Iran's fast attack craft fleet: behind the hyperbole

Iran's purchase of the British-made world record setting speedboat Stirred up Bladerunner Increased chatter on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy's (IRGCN) development of a fast attack craft new (CAF) fleet. Simon O. Williams looks beyond the hyperbole to examine in the context of FACs WIDER Developments in Iran's naval arsenal.

Technical analysts, policy advisors, strategic planners and even the media rallied around the key buzzwords of 'anti-access / area denial' (A2/AD), 'hybrid warfare' and 'swarm tactics' hyping up the situation. DESPITE Such nests using terminology and Increased focus in the public domain, it is Necessary to look beyond the rhetoric to IRGCN's provocative Such Evaluate Developments in Their naval arsenal.

Reverse engineering the Bladerunner

Manufactured by Ice Marine, the Bladerunner, sold through a structure of international transactions, ended up in Bandar Abbas, Iran 's largest port, Which houses the IRGCN's headquarters. There, the vessel was Dissected, rebuilt and armed with sophisticated weapons systems. Like previous platforms, from reverse engineering design analysis procedures was used to build and commission a fleet of clones able of executing tasks in IRGCN Iran's coastline Areas in the Strait of Hormuz.

Questions Were raised about Iran's Ability to copy the main performance components of the Bladerunner, SPECIFICALLY the twin 1000 HP Caterpillar C18 inboard engines and Arneson ASD12 area drives, purpose technical experts suggest That Iran may well Have the capabilities to replicate thesis components and IRGCN leadership claims Already they've succeeded. With thesis systems, speed alone Would the vessels offer a competitive offensive and defensive performance edge, ALLOWING hit-and-run activities to be Executed with top-notch manoeuvrability.


Comparing thesis Iranian activities to operations falling on shares of the Iran-Iraq War, dubbed the Tanker War, it is obvious que le IRGCN modernization HAS taken seriously. Their goal is to replace underperforming Their Chinese and North Korean vessels with indigenously produced FACs to participate in. 'swarm attacks, has tactic Which waves in small vessels of a larger attack slow target capital overwhelming it with small arms / RPG / missile fire, or even ramming it in kamikaze-style suicide attacks.Judging by aesthetics alone, the new fleet of air EMITS year professionalism as Depicted in the box-out comparison.

Arming a faster fleet

These vessels can be outfitted in a variety of configurations, ranging from small arms to cruise missiles.Image analysis Reveals que la majoritĂ© are armed with at least one mounted heavy machine gun DShKM 1938 (12.7 × 108 mm, slightly larger than .50 cal), as well as 107mm or other similar rocket-launchers.

Iran's missile capabilities continues to grow. In reference to arming FACs, deputy defense minister and head of Iran's Aerospace Organization, General Mehdi Farah, STATED que les country's "missiles Have the capability of Being Launched from vessels with speeds of over 30 knots, and thesis missiles include Zafar, Nasr, Noor and Qader. " These are radar guided anti-ship cruise missiles able of destroying targets 1,500-ton Damaging and even larger ones.
On top of this, the Iranians Russian Shkval torpedoes Have imported and indigenous clones created, Which They claim they are outfitted some of Their FACs. These torpedoes Which travel around 200 knots are a threat as Many modern seaborne radar and targeting systems cannot That commits area at speed projectiles.

Iran HAS Already Begun practicing delivery of Chinese made EM series and other devices from FACs in the Caspian in order to AVOID further Top tension in the Gulf. Using thesis together with other assets conventional systems, bolsters Iran icts A2/AD capabilities for control of Hormuz. Deploying mines in the strait Would leverage Iran's FAC capabilities, forcing Any power to think twice about intervening in the region, let alone transiting the Strait - Firstly Because of the psychological deterrent of operating in a constricted mined waterway, and second for the expensive, prolonged and dangerous task of post-conflict Demining.

Controlling the Strait of Hormuz

The IRGCN seeks to Maintain and economic development of a force capable of preserving Iranian control over the Strait of Hormuz. Jumping to conclusions about coalition forces, HAVING superior defensive capabilities and airpower area, Which may be correct, unfortunately thorough analysis of the seats in the backseat IRGCN. It is imperative to keep in mind Iran's willpower and creativity and not underestimate the potential of the IRGCN, unconventional operations to execute spontaneous icts with ever-growing asymmetric fleet against military or civilian assets.

"The IRGCN seeks to Maintain and economic development of a force capable of preserving Iranian control over the Strait of Hormuz."
Though a handful of FACs can be Easily Defeated with a wide array of defensive technologies, Including helicopter-launched over-the-horizon targeting systems, a 'swarm' of Such craft in the triple digits Would Be beyond overwhelming. Populating the maritime domain with local Such a saturation of vessels targeting defensive Could render systems useless, may not be as They ble to simultaneously monitor, let alone undertakes Hundreds of swarming Iranian FACs. Moreover, ROE may not be cleared to undertake all targets Until They are APPROBATION poses a threat directly, and are offensive Within Their Own range.

While the likelihood of attack against swarm FAC year coalition military vessels Remains unlikely, shoulds Iran choose to turn against even one icts FACs trading vessel, it causes catastrophic damage Could, with overall policy and private sector ramifications. The FACs can swiftly outmanoeuvre the civil and military traffic in this narrow and confined Relatively waterway and instigate problems, ranging from harassment of military vessels have Already done, to a variety of attacks against live trading assets in Hormuz, reminiscent of the Tanker War.

Managing director of political risk consultancy Strategic Analysis, Ruth Lux, said: "The Strait of Hormuz is the Most Important oil chokepoint in the world and Iran is unlikely to close as it is dependent on icts economy upwards of two exporting one million barrels of oil a day through the Strait. Furthermore, Iran Does not want to alienate Those Which countries oppose sanctions Broader and it knows That a closure of the Strait Would result in a US-led military response, Iran wants to Which avoid. Continued Iranian terrorism threats are Already HAVING a negative impact on the energy market as Iran is able of executing damage to infrastructure and harassment of vessels without full closure of the Strait. "

While there no doubt Appears to be That a closure of the Strait Would Be just as detrimental to Iran as to other countries dependent on energy supply from the Gulf, to reaffirm the continuing IRGCN icts Ability ready to close the Strait of Hormuz at ease if Provoked . Should Iran choose a Threatened to take action in this A2/AD Any strategic waterway, It Would Most Likely come as a hybrid operation - using Iran's fleet in FAC holder of shore-based missile capabilities and rapid deployment of naval mines to restrict access through Hormuz . Thesis using assets together, Iran may be ble to leverage capabilities to execute icts a more serious and Sustained A2/AD than Commonly Perceived operation.


Vessels

Seraj-1 fast attack craft
Built on the Bladerunner design, known for icts stability, high mobility and power, this vessel was first cloned in 2010 indigenously and then mass produced Between 2011 and 2012. The original Bladerunner HAS remarkable top cruising speed of 65 knots, purpose IRGC naval command Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi claims his Seraj-1 vessels are modified to 80-85 knots, with later generations expected to reach a target goal of 100 knots. Images show the Seraj-1 modified outfitted with 107mm rocket launchers (11 tubes) and a forward mounted heavy machine gun DShKM 1938, though other weapon configurations are of course possible.

Fast attack craft Torgah, or 'Boghammar'
These are modified versions of the fast attack craft bought in 1984 from Sweden's Boghammar Marin falling on the Tanker Wars and later refitted with diesel engines Seatek and a variety of large caliber armaments, most is notably over-bridge 107mm rocket launchers and forward mounted DShKM. In the mid 2000s the Maritime Industries Group, a component of Iran's Defense Industries Organization state, Began Reproducing mono-hull and double variants indigenously.

Fast attack craft Zolfaghar
These lightly armored, indigenously produced Iranian FACs are able of speeds up to 70 knots. Note the twin tubes for Nasr-1 cruise missiles, as well as forward and rear mounted DShKMs.

Bavar-2
Iran HAS included development of ekranoplans (sea-skimming vessels ground effect) to FAC icts portfolio.The Bavar-2 is Iran's miniature version of a ground effect vehicle design never seriously Developed for military use except by the USSR. Iran HAS built small ekranoplans able of high speeds over flat land as well as water. The Iranians claim this craft is 'stealth' icts due to low profile, though specialists indicato Otherwise, Especially icts have exposed engines will glow in thermal imaging. Moreover, HAS STATED Their leadership IRGN ekranoplans are armed with machine guns and surveillance cameras.

Ya Mahdi
There has-been speculation que le IRGN may use FACs for suicide missions. Some experts argue That FACs used in a suicide attack against multibillion-dollar style navy vessels Would be catastrophic.Historically, however, suicide attacks Have never been common operating procedure for Any navy, let alone Iran, though it shoulds not be Ruled out due to Increased radicalization Among the IRGC ranks. In today's paradigm, however, remote controlled, unmanned vessels may be ble to Deliver a similar affect without the loss of a pilot's life. Iran HAS Developed the remote-controlled stealth Ya Mahdi, and high-speed unmanned radar-evasive vessel to do just that.

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