Iran Claims New Minesweeping Capabilities
The Iranian military holds annual war games to showcase its latest capabilities and technologies. This year, it conducted the Velayat-95 war games in both the Persian Gulf and northern Indian Ocean. Among the marquee capabilities the Iranian navy claims to have acquired was a combined sonic and magnetic approach to de-mining, utilizing both ships and helicopters. The accompanying article from Fars News discusses this capability.
The article claims that, on the second day of the Velayat-95 war games, the Iranian military successfully completed combined de-mining operations utilizing helicopters, minesweepers, and sonic and magnetic demining devices. The article claims that Iran now has a capability that hitherto only the United States had, by saying, “This technology was previously monopolized by the Global Arrogance [United States] yet now the strategic special naval forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran also possesses it.”
The Iranian announcement may be less than meets the eye, however. This technology is currently beyond Iran’s capabilities, and there is no evidence that it has yet achieved it. Such demining capabilities, however, are a priority for the Islamic Republic. While many Western officials discuss the Strait of Hormuz in terms of periodic Iranian threats to close that strategic waterway, the Iranian military lacks the ability to deny access to the Strait for more than a day. Simply put, the ability of the US (and other) navies to clear both mines and eliminate missile batteries is definitive. For all their bluster, however, Iranian policymakers recognize that a closure of the Strait of Hormuz by any other power would leave them vulnerable as it would prevent the export of oil and import of gasoline upon which the Iranian economy depends.