Iranian media highlighted its use of drones in anti-submarine warfare over the weekend.
The article at Fars News didn’t elaborate a lot on Iran’s new capabilities but did say that Iran’s navy commander Shahram Irani has discussed the use of anti-submarine drones for operations. Iran claims it can use these drones out to a distance of 1,000 kilometers.
Iran says it uses a weapon known as the Mark 46 torpedo which can be mounted on a drone. The drone can carry several types of torpedo, the article claims. It is not clear if it can carry more than one at a time. “In addition to the anti-submarine torpedo, the anti-submarine drone can also carry an anti-ship torpedo,” the report said.
The Iranian Karrar drone has been seen with what looks like a Mark 46 torpedo in previous imagery seen back in April. The HESA Karrar drone has been manufactured by the Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company since 2010. HESA is itself based on a factory that existed prior to the Iranian revolution that was built by the US company Textron to build Bell helicopters in Iran before the revolution.
Iran apparently based its Karrar drone on the US Beechcraft Streaker target drone. Iran’s claims to use the Mark 46 torpedo is also an attempt to develop an anti-submarine torpedo based on the US Mark 46.
Iran says it can target submarine with drones, torpedoes
Iran claims to be one of the few countries that can now target submarines using drones that can launch torpedoes. It’s unclear if this is actually operational, or merely one of Iran’s typical decisions to brag about new capabilities. The Mark 46 torpedo has been around since the 1960s. What matters is not whether the drone and the torpedo are effective yet, but that Iran wants to expand its anti-submarine capabilities. Recently Israel warned about Iran’s increasing naval threats. Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant said on May 22 that IRGC naval forces are attempting to construct “floating terror bases.” Iran seeks to convert commercial vessels for use with its military and IRGC. These can field systems such as drones and missiles.
Iran has bragged about domestically building torpedoes and advancing them as it has its other military program. Putting missiles and anti-submarine torpedoes on drones is part of Iran’s overall agenda to project power in the region.