New Iranian Weaponized Underwater Drone
Iran’s IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) has unveiled yet another new weapon. This one appears more useful than many previous grand unveilings, and is also being produced in quantity. It is essentially a blending of uncrewed underwater vehicle (UUV) technology and a torpedo.
The weapon was revealed at a ceremony showcasing newly acquired boats for the IRGC-N (-Navy). It was attended by Major General Salami, Commander-in-Chief of the IRGC, and Sardar Tangsiri, Commander of the IRGC-N. These parades have become a frequent occurrence, and usually have one or two new systems. Often these are ‘toys’. But sometimes, like now, they appear very credible.
The new weapon will drive to its target and explode, exactly like a torpedo. But it is different in two important ways. Firstly it uses a long-range but slow-running approach. And secondly it’s targeting capability is minimal (maybe non-existent). This makes it suitable for sneak attacks on ships at anchor, but no use against a moving target. Which is exactly the idea.
This concept is one that navies and torpedo manufacturers have toyed with. And, because it can be low tech and relatively low cost, it is well within Iran’s reach. In my view it makes a lot of sense. And Iran is an early adopter.
There have been attacks on merchant ships in the Persian Gulf in the past few years which were attributed to the IRGC. Some involved ‘drive by’ limpet mine attacks. But these were limited in several ways. Yet some of the attacks were on ships at anchor, and it was speculated that they involved drones like this.
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So the new weapon may have already been used in real attacks. Or at least will have benefited from the lessons learned.
The new weapon features a more streamlined nose with very small nose cap. From the images it is unclear whether the nose cap contains a sensor such as collision avoidance. There appears to be a sensor window on the side of the forward section, possibly for fusing.
The weapon is quite small. Assuming that it is 533mm (21”) in diameter, which is standard for torpedoes, I estimate the length to be around 5.5 meters. If it is smaller diameter, then the length is correspondingly less. The warhead may be derived from a torpedo, or a seabed mine. A similar looking mine was carried by the IRGC’s e-Ghavasi Human Torpedo.
The IRGC went to lengths to prevent the cameras from revealing the new drone's propulsion section. The stern was covered in fabric and camouflage netting. It is therefore unclear whether it is wire guided or not.
The weapon is possibly compatible with the IRGC-N’s midget submarines. Or it could be launched from a boat or merchant ship.