The Iranian Navy launched a new “drone carrier” division, expanding the country’s ability to attack their enemies while far from their own shores.
In July, Iranian naval forces unveiled three ships it had outfitted to launch drones. Images captured from the unveiling event showed Iranian auxiliary ship Delvar (471), the landing ship Lavan (514) and the Soviet-built Kilo-class submarine Tareq, launching a variety of drone aircraft.
Video footage showed a drone launch from the Delvar using a rocket booster. The rocket-assisted launch allowed the drone to get up to flying speed despite the naval auxiliary ship’s limited deck space.
By using this rocket-assisted launch method, Iranian naval forces may be able to pack larger numbers of drones onto the ships in its drone carrier division.
The drone-launching capability means Iran could also discretely launch drones from commercial ships, adding an element of surprise and unpredictability to their attacks. This would also make interdicting an attack and determining its source more challenging.
The drone carrier division is a significant addition to the Iranian military’s ability to conduct asymmetrical attacks throughout the Middle East. Iran is using drones as a low-risk and cost efficient way to expand its military capabilities, allowing for it to make up for other shortcomings in aerial reconnaissance and precision strike capabilities.
Iran’s military has drones that can carry anti-tank missiles and that can crash themselves into targets in Kamikaze-style attacks. Losing a drone is also less costly than losing a manned aircraft and its pilots.
This new Iranian drone carrier division has so concerned both Israel and neighboring Arab states that they’ve begun considering an alliance just to counter the Iranian drone threat. Israel and the neighboring Arab states have had tensions for decades, but The Drive reported they may work together to against a common enemy, Iran.
The proposed Israeli-Arab alliance would entail a mutual air defense network intended to provide early warning, track and intercept Iranian drones preparing to attack.
Israel and Iran are already involved in low-intensity drone warfare throughout the waterways of the Middle East.