Iran Buys North Korean Midget Submarines
The US Congressional Research Service suggests that Iran has purchased several midget submarines from North Korea. In June, the Iranian Navy commissioned its fourth, fifth and sixth units in its Qadi (also written Ghadir), r-class program, an indigenous midget submarine program which first became known in the west five years ago.
Military sources report that the North Korean miniature subs are capable of dropping small teams of commando forces on enemy shores, damaging large warships and mining the approaches of naval bases and harbours. They are capable of sowing EM-52 “rising mines” originally developed by China, which lurk on deep sea beds until triggered by a passing ship to release a missile which shoots up to strike its hull.
This weapon substantially enhances the Iranian navies’ menace, a development Israel will have take into account in the defense of its Mediterranean naval bases and commercial ports.
In 2005 Iran announced it would start production of its first indigenous submarine. In May 2005, Iran officially launched the production of its first locally built submarine, a craft capable of operating stealthily, state-run television reported. Defence Ministry spokesman Mohammad Imani was quoted as saying “the enemy would not be able to detect the submarine.” He did not elaborate. One submarine had already been built and was shown on television, cruising at sea level. The Defence Ministry had commissioned an unspecified number of the craft that’s been dubbed “Ghadir.”
The hull was launched in 2006. In 2007 the Iranian navy unveiled a submarine, named the Qadir (also written Ghadir), first of a number of planned midget submarines of the Yono class. Some observers suggested that the Qadir was otherwise similar to the North Korean Yugo boats, leading observers to suggest that this was an Iranian design based heavy on that class. But the Ghadir was 50% longer than the Yugo, and in fact resembled the North Korean Sang-O Class coastal submarines.
Iranian authorities asserted that the Qadir was an entirely Iranian design, and that the vessel could launch anti-ship missiles. Such a capability would have required the installation of more advanced systems into the submarine or the operation in concert with other vessels capable of guiding any such missiles. The Qadir does have provisions for mounting a Swimmer Delivery Vehicle (SDV), a type of craft that Iran has also developed.
Iran described the Ghadir as a “light” submarine, meaning it is smaller than the attack subs used by the United States. Iran has provided very little information about the craft, including its dimensions or the size of its crew.
The submarine, which is capable of operating in the Persian Gulf and Oman seawaters, can launch both missiles and torpedoes at the same time, the television reported, without specifying the range of the projectiles. In December 2004, Iran announced the production of a line of stealth torpedoes that could be launched from helicopters, ships or submarines. Iranian officials have repeatedly said the Islamic Republic will defend itself should the United States or archrival Israel initiate any aggression. Pressure has mounted on Iran recently with suspicion over its nuclear program which Washington suspects is aimed at building unconventional weapons, a charge Iranian officials vehemently deny.
In November 2007 Iran claimed to have built a small submarine equipped with sonar-evading technology, saying the craft had been launched in the Persian Gulf. The navy chief, Adm. Habibollah Sayyari, was quoted by state television as saying the new Ghadir-class submarine is the second Iranian-built underwater craft outfitted with “state-of-the-art electronic equipment.” He said it took 10 years to build.
Iran’s Naval Submarine fleet will be equipped with a new domestically manufactured submarine, the senior Iranian navy commander said in August 2008. Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said that Iranian technicians have used indigenous technology to build the new submarine. He did not specify the class of the new submarine. Iran’s Navy currently operates Ghadir and Nahang (meaning whale in Persian) submarines. According to Rear Adm. Sayyari, the Ghadir submarine is equipped with the latest military and technological equipments.
On 26 November 2008 the Commander of the Islamic Republic Army’s Navy Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said that in next 15 days another Ghadir class submarine would be delivered to the Navy. Sayyari told reporters after touring IRNA head office that the submarine has been designed and built by Marine Industries Organization. He said moreover, a light submarine will join the Navy’s fleet on the Navy Day. He added that once the submarines join the Navy, its deterrent power deep inside the sea will increase dramatically. This would mark possibly the fourth submarine in this class.
Reportedly being mass produced [supposedly at a cost of $18 million each], the first of this class, Ghadir, has been paraded for the press. Although generally described as a mini-submarine, it is rather larger that Iran’s other mini-subs. The Ghadir, with an estimated displacement estimated at between 120 tons and 500 tons, is probably better described as a littoral submarine, similar in concept to the Italian Sauro class though significantly smaller. Photographs indicate it has a pair of bow torpedo tubes which appear to be 21” allowing them to fire typical heavyweight torpedoes. It could thus serve as a launch platform for the infamous Shkval rocket torpedo, which has been transferred to Iran.