Saturday, 28 July 2012

Iran expands fleet of fast-attack boats and submarines

Iran has expanded its fleet of fast-attack boats and submarines in the Persian Gulf in a bid to quickly destroy US ships if hostilities erupt, according to analysts.

US and Middle Eastern analysts claimed that the new systems, many of them developed with foreign assistance, are giving Iran’s commanders new confidence to strike at American warships.

Some current and former military analysts believe that increasingly accurate short-range missiles, combined with Iran’s use of “swarm” tactics involving hundreds of heavily armed patrol boats, could strain the defensive capabilities of even the most modern US ships.

According to The Washington Post, the highly maneuverable small boats, some barely as long as a subway car, have become a cornerstone of Iran’s strategy for defending the gulf against a much larger adversary.

The vessels can rapidly deploy Iran’s estimated 2,000 anti-ship mines or mass in groups to strike large warships from multiple sides at once, ‘like a cloud of wasps attacking much larger prey’, the paper said.

According to a Middle Eastern intelligence official, who helps coordinate strategy for the gulf with US counterparts, some Navy ships could find themselves in a “360-degree threat environment,” simultaneously in the cross hairs of adversaries on land, in the air, at sea and even underwater.

“This is the scenario that is giving people nightmares,” the paper quoted the official, as saying.

According to the report, US officials describe the Iranian naval buildup as part of an effort by the Islamic Republic to bolster its military credibility in the region.

An earlier Pentagon report said Iran was making steady progress in developing ballistic missiles capable of striking targets in Israel and beyond.

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