Submarines: Iranian Robots Rule

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August 13,2008:  Iran now claims it has developed and manufactured a UUV (Unmanned Underwater Vehicle). Iran regularly claims to have developed new military technology. In time, either nothing more is heard of it beyond the initial press release, or the Iranian wonder weapons turns out to be a crude knock off of some foreign technology the Iranians either stole, or bought and smuggled in.

As for UUVs, there are some excellent models available on the civilian market. Take, for example, the Remus 100. This is an 80 pound vehicle that looks like a small torpedo. It is 5.4 feet long and 190mm in diameter. Carrying a side scanning sonar, and other sensors, a Remus 100 can stay under water for 22 hours, traveling at a cruising speed of five kilometers an hour (top speed is nearly twice that.) The UUV can operate up to 100 kilometers from its operator, and dive to 300 feet. The Remus keeps costs down by using GPS, in addition to inertial guidance. The UUV surfaces every hour or two to get a GPS fix, and then goes back to doing what it was programmed to do.

 Remus 100 was designed mainly for civilian applications (inspecting underwater facilities, pollution monitoring, underwater survey or search). But there are similar military and police applications, like searching for mines, or other terrorist activities. The U.S. Navy uses Remus, as do many others. This is in addition to many civilian users. Australia and New Zealand also use Remus 100, and over 120 are in use. Depending on sensors carried, each Remus costs $350-500,000. The Iranian tech theft and smuggling network would have no problem getting one of these for reverse-engineering. The components are off-the-shelf stuff.

Last year Iran announced a new miniature submarine design, which it called the Yono class. The Iranian Navy did not provide much in the way of details. From available information, this appears to be an Iranian version of the Italian MG110 mini-subs. Some of these boats were sold to Pakistan years ago. The Iranians and Pakistanis have been known to exchange information like this (on foreign weapons) before.

 The MG110s are 85 feet long, displace 105 tons and have a crew of six. These boats are designed to also carry eight combat scuba divers. These subs can carry two torpedoes or mines externally. Top speed on the surface (using the diesel engine) is 16 kilometers an hour. The sub can stay at sea for about five days. It can stay under water for up to eight hours at a time (on batteries). These subs are hard to detect, but it remains to be seen if the Iranian boats are as reliable and capable as the Italian ones they are modeled on. The Iranians love to talk up new weapons they developed themselves, but when the stuff is actually put to use, the performance tends to be dismal.

Iran has bought mini-subs from North Korea, which has been designing and building these for decades. These UUVs and minisubs are mainly useful for commando type operations.

 


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