It was only a matter of time before this happened. A new vessel, shown in public for the first time this week, is either a very small submarine or a very large Uncrewed Underwater Vehicle (UUV). It appears to be the latter. If correct, this will add a new dimension to Iran’s systematic warfare capability. It will also mean that Iran joins an elite club with only the U.S. Navy and Britain’s Royal Navy having such large UUVs.

The vehicle is loosely comparable to the Boeing BA  Orca extra-large uncrewed underwater vehicle (XLUUV), which is being developed for the U.S. Navy, in terms of size category and, crucially, diesel-electric propulsion, if not sophistication. The Iranian model is almost certainly cheaper!

The vessel was displayed at a ceremony to introduce over 100 new boats to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp’s Navy (IRGC-N). This is the arm of the armed forces which is most frequently associated with Iran’s more adventurous operations. These include a series of suspected limpet mine attacks on tankers in the Persian Gulf last year.

The other craft paraded included missile and rocket armed fast attack craft (FACs), speed boats and underwater chariots for commando frogmen. There were even some very small wings-in-ground-effect aircraft. None of the types in the main display were actually new, although some of the individual vessels might be. But this UUV is, and it is in a different league.

Adding large UUVs could provide new ways for the IRGC-N to project power and prestige in the region. The diesel-electric propulsion will give it very long range. And its large size could make weapons integration more feasible. A large UUV used for mine laying would be relatively achievable, for example.

Go to link