Spy Satellite Spots Large Scale Iranian Mock-Up of U.S. Aircraft Carrier for Training.

In this Sunday, June 7, 2020 satellite photo provided by Maxar Technologies, a fake aircraft carrier is seen off the coast of Bandar Abbas, Iran. As tensions remain high between Iran and the U.S., the Islamic Republic appears to have constructed a new mockup of an aircraft carrier off its southern coast for potential live-fire drills. The faux foe, seen in satellite photographs obtained by The Associated Press, resembles the Nimitz-class carriers that the U.S. Navy routinely sails into the Persian Gulf from the Strait of Hormuz, its narrow mouth that sees 20% of all the world's oil pass through it. (Satellite image ©2020 Maxar Technologies via AP. Editing to highlight the aircraft carrier by The Aviationist)

Mock-Up of U.S. Carrier May Be for New Iranian Coastal Defense Demonstration.

A credible report of a 650-foot long Iranian-built mock-up of a U.S. Nimitz-class aircraft carrier has surfaced based on newly published satellite photos. The report, published on June 9, 2020 by the Associated Press, states that, “While not yet acknowledged by Iranian officials, the replica’s appearance in the port city of Bandar Abbas suggests Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard is preparing an encore of a similar mock-sinking it conducted in 2015. It also comes as Iran announced Tuesday it will execute a man it accused of sharing details on the movements of the Guard’s Gen. Qassem Soleimani, whom the U.S. killed in a January drone strike in Baghdad.”

Iranian Guard’s General Qassem Soleimani was killed in a U.S. airstrike earlier this year on January 3, 2020 while he was visiting Baghdad, Iraq. The strike was conducted by U.S. remotely piloted aircraft. Soleimani had been a target for U.S. forces since a 2017 meeting between President Donald Trump and U.S. Defense Secretary H.R. McMaster. The U.S. claimed that Soleimani was planning attacks in the region against U.S. military forces and civilians.

On January 8, 2020, following the U.S. killing of Iranian Guard’s General Qassem Soleimani, Iran launched a series of missile strikes against two U.S. bases located inside Iraq in retaliation for the U.S. killing of the General. The Iranian missile strikes against U.S. bases in Iraq were characterized as largely ineffective and may have been preempted by warnings from Iran. There were, however, subsequent reports of numerous “traumatic brain injuries” by U.S. personnel as a result of the attack. Iran also mistakenly shot down a civilian Boeing 737 airliner during the January 8 retaliatory attack against Americans in Iraq. Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 was shot down with 176 passengers and crew on board, all of whom were killed in the mistaken attack.

This latest, Jun 9, 2020 photo published by the Associated Press was obtained from Maxar Technologies, a private satellite reconnaissance company. The photo appears to show an aircraft carrier located next to a coastal peninsula. There also appears to be a manmade dock and shapes resembling aircraft on the aircraft carrier mock-up. The mock-up is roughly 2/3rds the size of an actual Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. Its proximity to the training facilities for Iranian littoral combat units suggests it may be used in the training role for Iranian small boat and naval special warfare units.

Photos and video published in late May, 2020 on Twitter from various sources inside Iran show large numbers of new Iranian small tactical boats and even what appear to be crude miniature submarines and an unusual surface-skimming hydroplane type vessel.

Photos of what is purported to be new Iranian maritime attack vessels, including miniature submarines, have appeared on Twitter (Photo: IWN via Twitter)

A May 28, 2020 Tweet from @A7_Mirza said that, “On May 28, 112 new combat boats in various classes were delivered to the #IRGC Navy in the presence of Amir Hatami, Minister of Defense, and the Major General Salami, Commander-in-Chief of the IRGC and the Admiral Alieza Tangsiri, Commander of the Iranian Navy.”

A separate report in Russia’s state-sponsored Sputnik news outlet said that, “Several new classes of vessels were unveiled at the [May 28, 2020] event, including the ‘Ashura’, ‘Tariq’ and ‘Zulfiqar’, with Press TV reporting that the boats feature advanced hydrodynamic properties, a small radar cross section, the capability to accelerate to very high speeds and “a high level of offensive power.”

What are claimed to be new Iranian naval speedboats equipped with machine guns and rocket launchers also appeared in a May 28, 2020 Twitter post. (Photo: Sputnik News)

Iran has conducted a mock-sinking of a U.S. aircraft before, in February, 2015. Video of the 2015 exercise surfaced on YouTube and was published in a New York Times article on February 25, 2015 by journalist Thomas Erdbrink. The video shows a series of missiles hitting a simulated U.S. aircraft carrier with mock aircraft on its deck. As we reported back then, along with some F-5 Tiger aircraft (serving with the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force but not existing in a carrier-variant) parked on the flight deck of the fake Iranian carrier there are also some fake F/A-18 Hornets. One of the two in special color scheme sported the unique livery and markings of the VFA-103 “Jolly Rogers”. As the video progresses, an Mi-17 helicopter accompanies a large group of rigid-hull small craft that approach the simulated aircraft carrier in a simulated swarm attack. The exercise was viewed from a grandstand filled with dignitaries located on the nearby coast.

About Tom Demerly
Tom Demerly is a feature writer, journalist, photographer and editorialist who has written articles that are published around the world on TheAviationist.com, TACAIRNET.com, Outside magazine, Business Insider, We Are The Mighty, The Dearborn Press & Guide, National Interest, Russia’s government media outlet Sputnik, and many other publications. Demerly studied journalism at Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Michigan. Tom Demerly served in an intelligence gathering unit as a member of the U.S. Army and Michigan National Guard. His military experience includes being Honor Graduate from the U.S. Army Infantry School at Ft. Benning, Georgia (Cycle C-6-1) and as a Scout Observer in a reconnaissance unit, Company “F”, 425th INF (RANGER/AIRBORNE), Long Range Surveillance Unit (LRSU). Demerly is an experienced parachutist, holds advanced SCUBA certifications, has climbed the highest mountains on three continents and visited all seven continents and has flown several types of light aircraft.