Iran continues to expand its mini submarine fleet. From the Middle East Online:
Iran's navy said on Wednesday it had launched a new home-produced submarine, the first in a class named "Ghadir", Tehran's latest claim of military progress at a time of mounting tensions with the West.
"This advanced submarine is equipped with the latest military and technological equipment," navy chief Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayari was quoted as saying by state media.
"It was built after 10 years of design work. Its capabilities are equal to those of foreign types." No further details were given.
State television pictures showed a submarine submerging and then resurfacing. It was not clear if the pictures were of "Ghadir", which is named after a Muslim holiday.
In March 2006, the navy deployed a submarine named Narhang (Whale) but the pictures broadcast by state media at the time showed it was a mini-sub.
The way Iran uses names for its submarines makes this confusing.
We believe we have excellent sources on Iranian equipment, although our naming and labeling of Iranian systems are different than those of organizations like Stratfor. No disrespect to Stratfor, but because we believe our sources are accurate, for a number of reasons, we will keep things named and in sync as per our sources.
To us, the "Yono" class submarine are the 4 mini-submarines previously acquired from North Korea, the Nahang (whale) class mini-submarines are the ones pictured in that Middle East Online article, while the Ghedir class is the Iranian version of the Italian designed MG110 class mini-submarines in use by Pakistan. Additional information on Iranian underwater capabilities here.
We are not certain why Sayari would claim this is a "first in class" submarine, although we are hearing that it is being translated incorrectly, and basically when discussing the "first in class" he is talking about the Ghadir class being the first class of indigenously produced submarines for Iran. It could be that the new "Ghadir" class submarine produced is a new variant of the original "Ghadir" class of which between 4-6 have been produced, but there is very little room for growth on a 150 ton mini-submarine.
We will soon find out who is accurate though, because we may soon get some photography of the new submarine to determine for sure. At the same announcement, Iran announced an upcoming naval exercise called "Etehad 86." These exercises typically get a lot of TV time in Iran, which means they will eventually end up on YouTube.
It is very difficult to get too excited about the Iranian submarine program. For perspective, keep in mind that during a military parade in Tehran this past April, Iran showed off its submarine capability by putting 2 guys dressed in diving outfits on top of a swimmer delivery vehicle standing at attention while being pulled down the parade route on a truck trailer. At night in the middle of the Persian Gulf, those guys are just as likely to be eaten by a shark than to threaten a double hulled supertanker.
As we noted earlier, the names of Iranian submarines are getting difficult to follow, so we offer this for those who discuss the topic. When you think of the green MG110 class mini-submarines that Iran produces, think of it as the "Ghadir" class, pronounced "GAY DAR" in tribute to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his absurdity of no homosexuals in Iran. We believe calling it the "Gay Dar" is an important reference, because it keeps us reminded of the fact that in Iran, homosexuality is a crime with only one punishment, execution. Feel free to add your "Gay Dar" joke in the comments.