- Iran released a quirky animated video showing one of its new submarines sinking a US Navy aircraft-carrier strike group in a funny, cartoonish way.
- But the threat that Iran’s submarines pose to US aircraft carriers is no joke.
- The US has largely turned away from anti-submarine warfare and recently abandoned a program to protect carriers from torpedoes.
- Iran’s Ghadir submarines may one day field high-end Russian torpedoes, which pose a serious threat to aircraft carriers.
- But overall, Iran still has a smaller and weaker military than the US and would likely be too afraid to open up that kind of combat against the US.
Iran released a quirky animated video showing one of its new submarines sinking a US Navy aircraft-carrier strike group in a funny, cartoonish way.
But the threat that Iran’s submarines pose to US aircraft carriers is no joke, and it’s unlikely the US takes it as a joke.
The video opens with a shot of a Navy aircraft-carrier strike group transiting the Persian Gulf to the guitar solo in Queen’s “We Will Rock You.”
Next, the camera cuts to an Iranian submarine surfacing as the music switches to a menacing orchestral score.
Then we see the destroyers accompanying the US carrier go down with deep booms and ripples one by one, until finally the carrier itself raises its bow out of the water and sinks. Two jets on the carriers’ flight deck scurry off at the last moment, possibly as an attempt at comedy.
Finally, we see the triumphant Iranian submarine dragging the intact but sunken US ships behind it as a narrator boasts about Iran’s “very advanced” Ghadir-class submarines.
While the Ghadir class might not be advanced at all by objective standards, a hole in US submarine defences means it actually does have a fair shot at sinking an aircraft carrier if it can get close enough for a shot.
Iran’s Ghadir subs take much of their design from North Korean submarines. The ships are small and powered by diesel engines that charge electric batteries that power the sub while underwater. The submarines are noisy and can’t travel far away from coastal waters.
US submarines are big, nuclear-powered, and focused on stealth and acoustic superiority, or essentially hearing an enemy submarine before it is heard.
But in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, Iran’s home waters, the simple Ghadir has many advantages.
The carrier’s big weakness?
Brown or coastal waters are noisy and crowded, which dampens the US’s edge on listening. Also, small submarines such as the 95-foot-long Ghadir that know the topography of the sea floor can lurk undetected in small hiding spots a US submarine could never fit in.
While the Ghadir itself isn’t that advanced, it’s been speculated that it could carry Russian-made supercavitating torpedoes. These torpedoes create a bubble of air around the hull that greatly reduces friction and can reportedly get them going at up to 200 knots. Compare that with the 30 knots a carrier can reach.
The Navy recently said it gave up on a program to defend aircraft carriers against torpedoes. After years and $US760 million spent, the US gave up on a system to detect and defeat incoming torpedoes.
Carriers have some defences against torpedoes, such as manoeuvring and dropping decoys, but remain largely unprotected against the threat.
In a combat exercise off the coast of Florida in 2015, a small French nuclear submarine, the Saphir, snuck through multiple rings of carrier-strike-group defences and scored a simulated kill on the USS Theodore Roosevelt and half its escort ships, Reuters reported.
Destroyers that sail with US carriers have anti-submarine-warfare helicopters and tactics, but the main barrier to an Iranian attack on a US carrier is most likely fear.
Iran has proven incredibly hostile and antagonistic toward the Navy in the Persian Gulf, often charging ships with fast-attack craft, shining lasers at US helicopters attempting to land on a flight deck, and flying drones around carrier aircraft trying to take off and land.
But in reality, if Iran attacked a Navy ship, things would turn very bad for them very quickly.
“The decision to go after an aircraft carrier, short of the deployment of nuclear weapons, is the decision that a foreign power would take with the most reticence,” Bryan McGrath, founding managing director of the FerryBridge Group LLC, a naval consultancy, told Business Insider. “The other guy knows that if that is their target, the wrath of God will come down on them.”
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.