The Iranian Navy will unveil a new domestically-built submarine in coming days, Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi, the chief commander of the naval forces of Iran’s Artesh (regular army) has announced. Speaking at the 4th Conference on Persian Gulf Oceanography, Khanzadi added that the Iranian Navy will also receive a “new generation of submarines” in the next Iranian year, which begins on March 20. The top Iranian Navy commander pointed out that while the Navy purchased submarines from Russia in the past, the latest submarines are all domestically manufactured. Khanzadi further noted that a military vessel of Jamaran-class destroyers is set to join the southern fleet within the next one month. According to Khanzadi, Iran’s regular Navy maintain security of Iran’s southern territorial waters in the Gulf of Oman, while the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) naval forces are in charge of security of the Persian Gulf. 

Comment: Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami said last year that a new homegrown military submarine Fateh (Conqueror) is going through final tests and will soon join the Iranian naval forces. He added that the 527-ton Fateh submarine is a semi-heavy undersurface vessel. The submarine reportedly is equipped with an advanced sonic radar system which can identify enemy vessels and uses a missile defense system. 

Iran has recently stepped up efforts to upgrade its naval forces, although Iranian leaders aoften exaggerate about the country’s naval capabilities. As Khanzadi indicated, Iran prefers to produce its naval assets at home rather than importing them from foreign countries. Some of these submarines are reportedly built on North Korean designs. In May, American defense officials said that a “midget” submarine from which Iran tried to launch a cruise missile was built on a North Korean design. 

But a report by the US Office of Naval Intelligence warned last year that Iran would be able to purchase warships, submarines and advanced missiles to further boost its naval power after 2020, when the UN Security Council Resolution 2231 prohibiting Iran from acquiring advanced offensive weaponry is set to expire. “Over the next five years, new weapons will likely include submarine-launched ASCMs, the Hoot supercavitating torpedo, and potentially a supersonic ASCM, which Iran claims is in development. After 2020, Iran may look to foreign acquisitions of ships and submarines with a wide array of weapons suites,” the 42-page study said. The US Navy report suggests three key factors – the status of the Iran nuclear agreement, the price of oil and leadership changes in Tehran – will determine Iran’s naval strategy and acquisitions in the future.