Saturday, 29 March 2014

Iran buidling an aircraft carrier

Iran managed to shock the world last weekend by announcing that they are building a replica of a US Navy aircraft carrier. The ship in question is a large barge remodeled to look like a Nimitz class aircraft carrier complete with hull number and mock up aircrafts. Several speculations about why Iran is building a replica of about 2/3th the size of a real Nimitz class carrier are being spread.

Iran's mock up carrier

Everybody agrees that this is not a functional model. First, Iran lacks the technology to build real aircraft carriers. Its air fleet of F-14 Tomcat planes can be deployed off an aircraft carrier but Iran lacks trained pilots or even reliable planes as economic sanctions against the regime makes it very difficult for Iran to keep its F-14 flying. And since this is a model built on a barge it lacks the propulsion system to propel this model at a great speed.

So if it is not a functioning ship, why does Iran build it? The main theory is that it is propaganda and that it can be used for two reasons. First to show the Iranian people that Iran can build big warships and second to use it as a movie set.

Iran constantly claims that it can build big warships although this is a lie for anybody with some knowledge about warships. Iran claims that it can build destroyers while in reality their biggest ships only rank as corvettes. So the only ones they are fooling are the Iranian population.

The use as a movie set makes sense. Building an aircraft carrier and then blowing it up in front of the camera’s makes for very good propaganda and will sure be effective to send a clear message, namely that Iran is determined to fight and sink US aircraft carriers.

But somehow many people tend to forget a third reason behind this project: training. Iran’s leaders are constantly threatening to block the Strait of Hormuz in response to US sanctions. They also know that the US Navy will use its full might to open the Strait of Hormuz. Iran therefor must come up with the necessary tactics to defeat the US Navy to keep the Strait of Hormuz closed. In the end, that means tactics to defeat carrier battle groups.  A mock up aircraft carrier would make training more realistic, especially when the mock up is defended by corvettes to simulate the deployment of a carrier battle group. Iran’s navy would gain a lot of experience by making trainings as realistic as possible. In the end, a mock up carrier could enhance Iran’s tactics and make it a more formidable foe in the maritime theater.


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