Iran introduced a new domestically-built submarine in its naval fleet on Sunday. The new submarine made its maiden trip in Iranian territorial waters from the southernmost port of Bandar Abbas. The Bandar Abbas port is located north of the renowned Straits of Hormuz and lies roughly 1.300 kilometres away from Tehran. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attended the submarine’s inaugural submerge into the Iranian waters and in his public message claimed that the new submarine would only be utilised for defensive purposes.
The new submarine called Fateh, or else the Conqueror, weighs 527 tonnes and incorporates most recent technology systems. It can carry torpedoes, naval mines and cruise missiles. It can hit targets both from floating (surface-to-surface) and submerged (subsurface-to-surface) positions, while it can roam underwater for a period of five weeks in 200 metres depth. The cruise missile receptors facilitate the submarine to land and naval targets in a 2.000-kilometre range. This capability poses the most serious threat for Israeli and Saudi Arabian military targets around the Middle East – the most vocal opponents of Iran’s expanding influence in the region.
This is the fourth representative of semi-heavy submarines, comprising the elite members of the Iranian naval fleet. The three preceding ones were acquired by the former Soviet Union and are of Kilo class type. Kilo class submarines are older technology representatives and the three ones possessed by Iran are among the last representatives of the particular class which has already been discontinued since the demise of the Soviet Union. Still, the greatest ability of the semi-heavy class of the Iranian submarine fleet is their ability to carry cruise missiles which can hit not only rival warships and vessels but also land targets.
Since 1992, Iran has revitalised its domestic defence industry, in an attempt to circumvent the international sanctions regime which bars imports of weaponry and material utilised for the construction of military equipment.