Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Iranian Naval Design Recommendations

In the past decade the Iranian Navy has made signifigant improvements to it’s Navy. This has included purchasing and constructing warships of sufficient strength to protect Iran . While this has helped bring Iran ’s Navy back up to the strength it had in 1978, when one considers the resources Iran has available it becomes clear that Iran can do more. Below are my recommendations for Iran ’s Navy.

Right now Iran ’s major Warship production facility is at Bandar Abbas. In viewing Bandar Abbas, including the nearby Qeshm port, one notices what I mean above, namely that Iran has the facilities to build larger and more effective warships along the lines of a Sovrmmennyy class DDG, Sachsen class DDG, Krivak class FFG, Shivalik class FFG, Meko 200 class FFG, Visby class FFG Shardul class LPD, Gotland class SSK, Type 039 class SSK, U-31 class SSK, in other words, warships of strength which commands international respect. Iran also has the means to develop Bushehr into a center of warship production, and if Iran were to do so it would be of strategic advantage, for Bushehr is far away from any potential naval combat zone, unlike Bandar Abbas.

The recent announcement in August 2008 of the construction of the Qaaem SSK is cause for wonder. From the descriptions it would appear that the Qaaem is of comparible size and capability to Sweden ’s Gotland class SSK, China ’s Type 039 class SSK, and Germany ’s U-31 class SSK. If Iran ’s Naval personnel are smart they would have observed the Gotland exercises conducted from 2005-7 and the incident where a Chinese Type 039 class SSK intercepted the USS Kitty Hawk, showing the superior capabilities of those SSK’s. As Iran has demonstrated the capability of the improved stealth technology of it’s Ghadir class and Nahang SSK’s it is to be anticipated the Qaaem class will incorporate these improvements, for if they do not it will be to their disadvantage. Furthermore, Iran should use the already developed technological improvements in weapons and stealth and incorporate them into larger SSK’s and should begin exploring the possibilities of SSN’s , SSGN’s, and SSBN’s for it’s defense.

At present the largest surface warship Iran operates is the Jamaran class of FFG’s. Though capable they are given the misleading title of “Destroyer” which overstates their capabilities, and the only other “Destroyer” of similar capability operated by any other navy in the World is the German Brandenburg class, and that is because it carries a reduced amount of it’s full missile payload capability due to legal reasons. Anyone who has ever viewed the Bandar Abbas drydocks and the nearby Qeshm port will immediately notice that those drydocks and port facilities can hold and produce a warship the size of a Sovremennyy class DDG, and those at Qeshm have the potential to produce ships comparable in size to Nimitz/Kuznetsov class Aircraft Carriers, seeing as how supertankers are produced at Qeshm. As with Iranian SSK’s the same principle of developing quality before quality should be applied. By producing ships like the Jamaran class FFG’s, as well as smaller warships like the Paykan class Corvettes, Iran has demonstrated it’s ability to produce ships of quality. However, ships as small as the Jamaran can not hold large weapon payloads and would have to make creative adjustments to it’s weapons arrangement to carry helicopters. Therefore it would be in Iran ’s best interest to develop at Qeshm and Bandar Abbas larger surface warships, using some of the foreign designs mentioned above.

In addition, the Amphibious and Naval Air arm of Iran ’s Navy should be strengthened. By now the Hengam class LST’s should have had ships produced to replace them, as Iran can’t operate forever ships of the Bandar Abbas and Charak class which possess rapid conversion capabilities. Though it would be smart to produce Logistical Support Ships with rapid conversion capability they should not be of secondary, not primary combat importance.

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