Besat Class: Iran’s next indigenous submarine?
Program may also be referred to as Qaaem class. May be commissioned under a different name.
The Iranian Navy has reportedly working on a major project to build a “giant submarines” for many years. Talk of the Besat Class goes back over 10 years. In April Rear Admiral Amir Rastegari, Head of the Iranian Defense Ministry's Marine Industries Organization, referenced the project in an interview with Iranian media. And there have been previous official references also. So while it may prove to be a long wait, the next generation indigenous submarine project should be treated seriously.
A historic CGI used in Iranian media which may show the Besat. It may also show a design iteration of the Fateh class however. If this is Besat, it suggests a direct evolution of the Fateh Class.
Currently three Russian supplied Pr.877 KILO class submarines are the backbone of Iranian submarine capabilities. But these are already nearly 30 years old. And so far Iran’s locally built submarines have so far been much too small to replace the Kilo.
So it seems much most likely that the next generation submarine will have to be large enough to replace the KILOs. Various figures from 1,300 tons to 3,000 tons have been cited by Iranian media. A submarine of around 2,000 tons would be appropriate. This size is not trivial but it seems within reach of Iran’s construction capabilities.
A. Iran will need to develop a torpedo handling system with proper torpedo room. It will need to be loaded in a more robust way than the current Ghadir/Fatah boats. New torpedoes, possibly including wire guidance, will need to be developed.
B. A new, larger, sonar should be expected. This may remain a weakness.
C. Mast technology from the Fateh can be leveraged. The sail may be taller to provide better mast height.
D. Lead acid batteries are likely to remain. Increased hull diameter may allow a 2-and-a-half deck configuration.
E. Regular diesel-electric propulsion is expected. AIP (Air Independent Power) is unlikely.
Iran’s latest indigenous submarine, the Fateh Class, was already a major step up in submarine construction. Previous types had been restricted to midget submarines, and mainly based on North Korean designs. Fateh puts Iran firmly on the list of countries capable of designing and building submarines. It is largely based on the North Korean derived IS-120 Ghadir class and retains some design hang-overs. But all the same it is a legitimate ‘full size’ submarine, albeit at the bottom end in terms of size and modernity.
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Looking objectively at Fateh, it proves some aspects which can be carried forward to a larger submarine. And there are some aspects which it leaves untested. On the plus side, it has a relatively contemporary control room, some non-penetrating masts with electro-optical attack and search scopes, and twin diesel generators.
On the downside it retained the muzzle-loading torpedo tube set-up of the Ghadir class. The torpedoes can be brought all the way back into the ‘torpedo room’, which is necessary to load/unload the lower pair of tubes, but there is limited (or none) internal stowage of torpedoes. The torpedo handling system will have to be devised for the new submarine.
Iran will also need to develop (or acquire) a larger and more capable sonar suite for the submarine to perform in the same space as the KILO.
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