Tag Archives: Iran

Navy tests out a modern Bachstelze

Over the past few years DARPA has been working on their version of the old U-Boat kite.

ICYMI, during WWII, the Kriegsmarine’s U-boat fleet used about 200~ Focke-Achgelis FA 330 Bachstelze (English: Wagtail) aircraft. The FA330 was a type of rotary-wing kite that weighed about 150-pounds and, using an unpowered 24-foot three-bladed rotor for lift, was winched out into the air behind a U-boat on a 500-foot cable, allowing the adventuresome sailor in its single seat to have the best view on the boote.

A simple idea, they were complicated in use as they took a long time (20-30 minutes to assemble) and, if the kiteman saw an enemy warship, slowed the dive of the submarine far too long than was safe.

Well, the ONR and DARPA have teamed up to do the same thing but in an updated (and unmanned) version that swaps out the rotating kite wing for a much safer parafoil.

Observe the Towed Airborne Lift of Naval Systems (TALONS) below, a low-cost, elevated sensor mast being tested out on USS Zephyr, a 179-foot Cyclone-class patrol coastal. It is the first time it was used aboard a U.S. Navy vessel,  after being trialed on Sea Hunter, DARPA’s ACTUV vessel last year.

“Towed behind boats or ships, TALONS could persistently carry intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR), and communications payloads of up to 150 pounds between 500 and 1,500 feet in altitude—many times higher than current ships’ masts—and greatly extend the equipment’s range and effectiveness.”

Sea Hunter takes her TALON out to play

We’ve talked about DARPA’s 132-foot USV robot subchaser, the Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV), dubbed Sea Hunter, a few times already this year.

The ship’s projected $20 million all-up price tag and its $15,000 to $20,000 daily operating cost make it relatively inexpensive to operate. For comparison, a single Littoral Combat Ship runs $432 million (at least LCS-6 did) to build and run about $220K a day to operate– but of course that is a moving target.

We’ve also talked about their Towed Airborne Lift of Naval Systems (TALONS) U-boat kite program which is a low-cost, fully automated parafoil system designed to extend maritime vessels’ long-distance communications and improve their domain awareness.

Towed behind boats or ships, TALONS could carry intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and communications payloads of up to 150 pounds between 500 and 1,500 feet in altitude—many times higher than current ships’ masts—and greatly extend the equipment’s range and effectiveness.

So it makes sense that now video has emerged from DARPA of Sea Hunter taking its para-sail for a drag.

Now if they Navy can just cough up 50-100 of these, with ASW weapons and an automated C-RAM to avoid being splashed by enemy aircraft wholesale, and keep it from running $30 billion– then you have a real sea control ship when it comes to denying an area to the bad guy’s subs.

The scariest Persians

Iranian F-14 Tomcat pilots during the Iran-Iraq War

The last shah of Iran placed a $2 Billion order for the most advanced combat aircraft the world in 1974, the Grumman F-14 Tomcat. The order contained an airbase, a huge parts store, 80 F-14A fighters and nearly 714 of its unique AIM-54 Phoenix missile-the only one capable of knocking down an airborne target 100 miles away. Deliveries to the IIAF, Imperial Iran Air Force, began in 1975 from Grumman’s Calverton, NY plant with airframe BuNo 160299. Pilot/RIO training and support was done by the US Navy in CONUS bases during the same time period.

Ultimately 79 of the huge F-14s and 284 Phoenix missiles were delivered by 1979 when the Iranian revolution halted deliveries. Cut off from US-support and suffering from contractor sabotage and a loss of qualified pilots and mechanics, the IRIAF, Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force, have continued to operate the F-14s for the past 30+ years.

The Iranian F-14 force saw much more combat than their US brothers. During the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war IRIAF F-14 drivers claimed some 100~ confirmed victories over Saddam Hussein’s air force. It is known that only 5 of the Iranian F-14s were lost in air to air combat during the war, giving them a very respectable kill ratio of some 20:1. Their victims included both older MiG-21 and 23 series aircraft but also the more advanced Mirage F1 and the vaunted MiG-25. Standing orders to pilots in Saddam Hussein’s air force was that when an F-14 arrived in the sky they were not to engage but to break off and evade combat.

The most successful Iranian F-14 pilot was Major Jalal Zandi, who shot down 9 confirmed and 3 unconfirmed Iraqi combat aircraft. Another Iranian F-14 pilot, Major Rahnavard, flying alone attacked a formation of 12 Iraqi MiGs over the Persian Gulf in two separate engagements, downing four aircraft in one day.

Air and Space Magazine has a great new article with much more information here.

Iranian P-3F intercepted by US F-18 near USS Abraham Lincoln

An Islamic Republic of Iran Navy reconnaissance aircraft approaches a US Navy aircraft carrier and is escorted by US fighter jets over the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman. Pictures are all taken by Iranian crew.

loncoln indicdent

Captain John Eden Commander of Air Group on USS Abraham Lincoln  flying his FA-18E Super Hornet while intercepting Iranian P3F

Captain John Eden Commander of Air Group on USS Abraham Lincoln flying his FA-18E Super Hornet while intercepting Iranian P3F

Iran setting off Missiles in the S of Hormuz

Sounds like they are cruising for a bruising to me…

These look very effective against LCS's and light merchant ships.....


Tehran said it will test-fire missiles in the Strait of Hormuzon Saturday, a move likely to stoke tensions with Washington already running high over Iran’s threats to close the strategic oil waterway if sanctions are enforced.

“Shorter- and longer-range, ground-to-sea, surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles will be tested on Saturday,” the ISNA news agency quoted Iran’s navy spokesman, Commodore Mahmoud Mousavi, as saying on Friday.

Iran, which has been carrying out war games in the Strait of Hormuz over the past week, has said that “not a drop of oil” would pass through the strait if Western governments follow through with planned additional sanctions over its nuclear programme.

The US State Department said on Thursday that Iran’s threat to close the waterway, through which more than a third of the world’s tanker-borne oil passes, exhibited “irrational behavior” and “will not be tolerated.”

The naval manoeuvres launched by Iran in the strait on December 24 have so far included mine-laying and the use of aerial drones, according to Iranian media.

Analysts and oil market traders have been watching developments in and around the Strait of Hormuz carefully, fearing that the intensifying war of words between arch foes Tehran and Washington could spark open confrontation.

With tensions over the straight simmering, Iran-rival Saudi Arabia announced that it had signed a deal to buy 84 new US fighter jets in order maximise defence capabilities in the oil-rich kingdom.

On Thursday, the US said the $30 billion (23 billion euro) deal sent a “strong message” to the Gulf region, where Riyadh has voiced concerns about Tehran’s efforts to boost its influence.

In addition to buying the new aircraft, Saudi Arabia will be able to modernize 70 existing planes while procuring munitions, spare parts, training and maintenance contracts, US officials said.

Two US warships had entered a zone where Iran was conducting its war games, but a US naval spokeswoman said the ships were travelling as part of a pre-planned, routine operation and were not deployed as a show of strength.

“Our interaction with the regular Iranian Navy continues to be within the standards of maritime practice, well-known, routine and professional,” Fifth Fleet spokeswoman Lieutenant Rebecca Rebarich said on Thursday.

Iran has dismissed all US threats regarding potential consequences over the strait’s closure.

Brigadier General Hossein Salami, the deputy commander of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, told the Fars news agency on Thursday that Tehran has “no doubt about our being able to carry out defensive strategies to protect our vital interests.”

“The Americans are not qualified to give us permission” to carry out military strategy, he was quoted as saying.

Iran’s navy chief, Admiral Habibollah Sayari, backed that up by saying it would be “really easy” to close the strait.