The Obama regime is reluctant to get involved in yet another Persian gulf war with its pet Mullah regime, especially towards the upcoming final status agreement on Iran’s nuclear program – but what if such a war broke out anyway? The recent threat by the Iranian admiral to destroy the US navy has directed attention back to the Persian gulf. This article summarizes the publicly available information about the capacities, limitations and considerations about the war situation between Iran and the USA in that highly volatile region at present.
The Iranian approach to victory – swarms of nimble attack boats
Iran is reported to have built itself a large fleet of nimble small cheap military boats which it deploys in the Persian gulf and intend for swarm operations against large US surface vessels.These may be torpedo boats and/or allow for launching anti-tank/armor missiles, which in the Russian arsenal usually come with a thermobaric version too.
The little boats may be poised mainly against USMC landing attempts.The Iranian model-aircraft-carrier might be the size of the USMC ones, which are far smaller than the USN ones and resemble in size the Iranian model,and which are multi-purpose with amphibious landing capabilities, hospitals, command-centers.
This is also the case of the Italian and Spanish carriers.The British carriers since about 1979 are also that size, though at present no British one is commissioned. The Russian/Chinese ones are also of the smaller range.While the USN carriers normally stay outside of the Gulf, USMC ones may be introduced being too sufficiently versatile ISR and weapons platforms, also when not performing heliborne or naval assault.
The swarm threat
Iran may be trying to test it capacities to bamboozle the ISR and targeting pods onboard those carriers, using simultaneous multiple angles in order to saturate, confuse and overwhelm the defenders. This is a dynamic 3D exercise which requires training much like a SAM attack by means of many aircraft, like Israel planned for October 1973.The USMC would have to respond by means of synchronized distributed adaptive fleet formations, concerning ISR, targeting, C4I, weapons, maneuver and tactics. The Iranian side enjoys the benefits of suicidal troops and on that basis of economic affordability.
It mostly needs to deter rather not to conquer and even not to dominate.
Landing from the sea vs. A land invasion
Comparing the quiet waters of the Persian Gulf where full-spectrum dominance is possible, unlike with the Shiite-controlled and swarming marshlands of southern-Iraq full of IED arenas, though suggest at likely USMC landing plans on Iranian coasts. such landing are the quick way to neutralize threats operating from those coasts to Allied naval operations, while minimizing damages to Petroleum, Natural-Gas and Nuclear installations along that coastal line; and let’s not forget the lesson from Fukushima about the need to maintain the supply of grid-electricity to for pumping the reactors’ coolants.Terrestrial invasions are possible, yet would require massive engineering preparations,
curfews on millions of civilians and would hardly enjoy a very limited granularity of sub-tactical surprise concerning expected border crossing-points.Compare this with about a 500 mile long Iranian coastal line.The USN & USAF can provide intensive aerial close-support from Saudi bases.
Safe-Harbor for many small boats
Small boats may be stored inland scattered between indistinct bunkers,thus foiling the decisiveness of preemptive attacks against them.Namely forcing the US to waste thousands of bunker-busting cruise missiles for the sake of nimble boats and even then not knowing for sure how many more await a bit deeper ashore. It is a genuine scourge indeed. Likewise, the Iranian mini-submarines may lark in little creeks at the bottom of the Persian gulf, traverse them using hybrid-electric drives and pop out in to the open waters for a surprise attack.
How bad it can get
during the Gallipoli campaign of WWI, the British Navy attempted to cross the sea of Marmara en-route to the Bosporus and lost some of its major destroyers to sea mines and indirect fire from concealed locations of coastal artillery. The Persian Gulf may end up similarly, with Iran replaying its neighbor Turkey and with the US replaying its ally UK.
Stealth Navy – can it deliberate the US in the Persian Gulf?
The US commissioned various stealth combat ship, of which some are known in principle – below. This new generation seems to form the principle solution to the Iranian challenge, which seems to focus on the previous war.
1. LCS: Littoral combat ship incl. substantial helipads.
This is a category with various models.
It is tactically similar to the Israeli small missile-boat approach
of the past 50 years, plus this time round with structural stealth.
2. Zoomwalt destroyer [recent detailed Link] incl. a large helipad.
– It is the most high-tech in the world with lots of electricity.
Its silhouette is reminiscent of an Ironclad [Link].
3. Sea Shadow scout boat.
4. M80 Stiletto
SOCOM – aggregator for sneaky stealthy forces
Since special forces are sneaky by their purpose and nature,SOCOM [Link] oughts to be the aggregate authority for, operator and client of stealth systems for infantry-related ground, sea and air operations.Thus no wonder it was formed in 1987 right after stealth technology became available since 1983 with the introduction of the F117 stealth light bomber.The F117 proved itself big time in 1991 in Iraq, providing 40% of overall successful ground strikes by means of 1% of overall ground attack sorties.
Summary – asymmetric littoral warfare
The Persian Gulf balance of powers pits hyper-expensive, thus numerously-few, avantgarde US naval stealth platforms, complemented by means of powerful Electronic-Warfare capacities, against many nimble and cheap Iranian boats. The Persian Gulf turns in to an arena of asymmetric littoral warfare, which outcomes are likely to be painful to both sides, since both positions are quite vulnerable: the US due to low numbers, while Iran due to rudimentary measures.
This asymmetry is reminiscent of the early stages of the 1980s Iran-Iraq war, where RPG-carrying Iranian infantry rode bycicles vs. Maneuvering modern Iraqi tanks. Such Iranian sacrifices bought it time in order to revamp its army until it gained the upper-hand, thus forcing Iraq to cease the war at the lines where it started.
If it wasn’t about the question of nuclear-jihad, more so bordering the center-core of Eurasia, one could have reserved interest to the academic aspects of this intriguing situation.