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Hybrid War at Sea: Iran's Great Prophet 5 Exercises (II)

More photos from Iran’s Great Prophet 5 war games. Iran's navy will employ “asymmetric and highly irregular tactics that exploit the constricted geographic character of the Gulf,” said strategist Frank Hoffman, now with SecNav, at a Naval War College conference last year.

“This doctrine applies a hybrid combination of conventional and irregular tactics and weapons to posit a significant anti-access threat to both military and commercial shipping,” using “swarming” tactics employing a combination of heavily armed fast attack craft and low signature boats along with shore launched anti-ship missiles.

Hoffman pointed to Iran’s large sea mine arsenal, estimated at between 3,000 and 5,000 mines. “Its inventory includes as many as 1,000 Chinese EM11 influence mines and the EM52 rocket-propelled mine. In addition to advanced mines from China, Iran bought 1800 mines from Russia in 2000. The antique World War I-era contact mines used in the 1980s by Iran are a thing of the past,” he said.

The Office of Naval Intelligence report on Iran's naval forces (see post below) says the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy has been on a small boat buying spree. In the 1990s, it bought 10 Chinese built Houdong class missile boats (pictured) armed with the C-802 anti-ship missile; the same missile Hezbollah used to seriously damage an Israeli corvette during the 2006 Lebanon war.

Over the last decade it took delivery of 9 Chinese built C-14 missile craft and 10 MK-13 patrol boats armed with anti-ship missiles and torpedoes. The IRGCN has also built its own missile boats, including the Peykaap I and II, small, fast boats armed with torpedoes and the Iranian built “Kowsar” anti-ship missile.

These craft are armed with effective anti-ship missiles and well designed to operate in coastal waters and the Straits of Hormuz. “Iran's lengthy coastline, numerous islands, and many inlets and inland waterways would provide ample hiding places for most of the IRGCN's small boats,” the ONI report reads.

-- Greg

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