Archive for the Iran Category

Australians make new friends in the Indian Ocean, and the future of fighters in the Hawkeye State…

Posted in Iran on March 30, 2013 by maccaulay

…welcome back to the blog.

First on the docket, we’re covering the bit of news that went amazingly under reported (even in Australia) earlier this month: that of an Australian P-3 Orion naval patrol aircraft and an Iranian Navy frigate.

Both sides’ public announcements seem to downplay what happened, but the entire episode goes to show just how randomly different foreign policies can interact: the Royal Australian Air Force P-3 was on patrol as part of Operation Gateway, which is: “part of Australia’s support to cancel people smuggling in the region” according to a Defense spokesman.

The P-3 was on this patrol in the southern part of the Indian Ocean when it came upon the Iranian frigate Sabalan, an almost 40 year-old ship originally designed in Britain, and then built for and ordered by the Shah in the 1970s.

The two apparently traded signals on radar until the Australian plane turned away to head back to it’s base. It’s at this point we’ll go to Iran’s state news agency, FARS, for the rest of the story: “The reconnaissance plane changed its flight route immediately after receiving the warships’ warning but dropped some subsurface detection devices in their path. All the dropped devices were hunted skillfully by the timely action of the Iranian Navy forces.”

At the risk of editorializing, I find this statement correct in the facts, but not in the intentions: the Australian aircraft, operating in the southern part of the Indian Ocean, was probably encountering the Iranian ship on the return leg of it’s journey from Singapore: the ship’s tank was 3/4 full while the plane’s tank was 1/2 dry. It probably would’ve turned away previously if it hadn’t acquired this Iranian ship. And THAT is where the interesting bits and pieces come in.

FARS quotes: “[The plane]…dropped some subsurface detection devices…”. These were more than likely sonobuoys, meant to record and track the sound and strength of the Sabalan’s engines and aid in Australian, American, and other Western navies’ tracking of Iranian warships. I don’t really have much of a doubt that this was a chance encounter. To think that one can find a single ship with a single plane over such a large area, even in this era of satellites…that person is welcome to go to Las Vegas and try their luck. But the information that was gathered on those sonobuoys, and the practice the Australians got by dropping them, is immeasurable.

Now…on to the hometown news.

According to the Des Moines Register’s March 18th story, Chuck Grassley has cosponsored a bill blocking the demobilization of F-16s from the Iowa Air National Guard. The bill to stop these has been cosigned by Democratic and Republican senators Montana, New Jersey, and others. The Iowa ANG’s aircraft were slated to be dispersed to other units or sites throughout the country, but that has been put on hold.
With this newest development and the release of the list of sponsors, an interesting name is missing: fellow Iowan Senator Tom Harkin. I have been told to expect an e-mail from his press office concerning his position on the ANG F-16s on Monday or Tuesday of next week. More when that arrives.

Iran tests new ASM, but is it all it’s cracked up to be?

Posted in Iran, Middle East on August 8, 2012 by maccaulay

According to United Press International and a slew of other news organizations, the Iranian Revolutionary Gaurd Corps has tested a new Anti-ship Ballistic Missile during the final phase of wargames a week ago. According to FARS (which should be taken with a grain of salt), the missile is capable of propelling a 1400 pound warhead over Mach 3 with active guidance and a range of almost 200 miles. As a comparison, the Exocets used in the Falklands War to sink and/or disable many British ships carried a 360 pound warhead. With a speed of just over 1,000 miles per hour, the Exocet is capable of supersonic speed, but nothing near Mach 3.

The timing of such a test, no matter if it’s true or not, is fairly obvious: Iran threatened a few weeks ago to shut down the Strait of Hormuz to shipping if it was threatened, and the development and deployment of an indigenous anti-ship missile with high effectiveness would greatly increase their bargaining position.

In videos released to the public, the missile is shown being launched from mobile launchers, which would be the most feasible choice in any future conflict: static sites would most probably be the first taken out if the West were to launch an air campaign against the Iranian state. Many countries learned after Desert Storm that the most useful missile system against a Western air campaign is a mobile one.

The obvious Iranian dream weapon would be a missile system that could cover the entire Persian Gulf while also being able to launch at standoff range towards any carrier groups that may be in the Arabian Sea. If it can keep them out of aircraft range, or at least at the extreme range of it, then Western air power to it’s south is negated.

Whether this is an actual system or something older they have gussied up and decided to say is something new is also something to think about. They’ve proven that they have the ability to conduct indigenous engineering programs of fairly high sophistication; the development of the Saeqeh and Azarakesh fighters show that an incremental program is being taken to slowly build up technical know how.

So…is this a new threat to Western naval sovereignty in the Gulf, or is it a huge sham? Perhaps a bit of both, if the Iranians can be counted on for anything. Generally when they do unveil a new piece of equipment, it can be counted on to at least be new. And if they say it was built in Iran, then it can at least be counted on to be built in Iran. But, like used car salesmen, they will always round up on their goods’ strengths when they’re trying to sell them to the public.

What do you think, readers?