UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Kilo Class Submarine

The problem Iran faces is that the Persian Gulf is too shallow to hide a Kilo (and apparently contrary to widespread opinion not impervious to sonar), while the Gulf Of Oman and Indian Ocean rapidly become so deep that they aren't ideal 'littorial' hiding places either. So Iran is hard pressed to find decent Kilo hunting grounds, especially if they are looking for big-name Western Navies. The Kilos are excellent but math in this part of thw world is against them.

Iran took delivery of 3 Type 877EKM "Kilo" Class submarines between 1992 and 1996. Iran's three KILO-elass diesel-electric submarines are all based at Bandar Abbas. These modern and quiet submarines were bought from Russia in the 1990s. The IRIN devoted the bulk ofits acquisition funding to order three KILO-class attack submarines. Submarines had long been on the IRIN's list ofdesired platforms. During the Shah's reign, the navy had ordered both U.S. TANG- and German TYPE 209-class diesel submarines. Despite the change of regime, the navy's Shah-era plan to acquire submarines was finally realized.

The fIrst KILO, TAREQ 901, was commissioned on 21 November 1992. The second KILO, NUH 902, was commissioned on 6 June 1993, while the third KILO, YUNES 903, was commissioned on 25 November 1996. The third Russian-built, Kilo-class diesel submarine purchased by Iran, was towed by a support vessel in the central Mediterranean Sea during the week of 23 December 1995. The submarine and the support ship arrived at Port Said, Egypt, and were expected to begin transiting the Suez Canal 02 January 1996. Ships and aircraft from the U.S. Navy's Sixth Fleet are tracked the submarine, which had been making the transit on the surface.

These are relatively modern diesel-electric submarines, which first entered service with the Soviet Union in 1980. The EKM version, designed for export, has improved command and control equipment and is some 10 meters longer than the standard Kilo Class at 72.6 meters in length. The submerged displacement is 3,076 tons, with a displacement of 2,325 tons when surfaced. It has a submerged speed of 17 knots, and 10 knots when surfaced.

Iranian Kilos are capable of anti-ship operations using their six 530mm torpedo tubes (include 2 tubes capable of launching Russian type wire-guided torpedoes) or mining. 1,000 naval mines capable of being laid by the Kilo were sold by Russia to Iran along with the submarines. A maximum load of 16 torpedoes or 24 mines can be carried. The conning tower also has a station for the firing of a shoulder launched surface-to-air missile system, otherwise stowed aboard the vessel. In Iranian service the 9K32M/SA-14 Strela is standard.

The Iranian purchase of three Russian KILO-class submarines most likely included modern mag- netic, acoustic, and pressure-sensitive mines. In addition to importing mines, Iran has continued dmnestic mine production, resulting in a growing stockpile ofnaval mines. As of 2004, US experts estimated that Iran had an inventory of at least 2,000 mines.

The strategic lesson Iran learned from 1988 was that there is little to be gained from dominating the Straits of Hormuz if US Navy carriers are permitted to sit in the northern Arabian Sea and conduct continuous combat patrols over these narrow waters. 'Kilo' class submarines, based either at Bandar Abbas or at the Indian Ocean base of Chad Bohr, on which work had been restarted, would pose a substantial threat to surface combatant operations in these waters, and would also be able to conduct covert minelaying operations close to the straits.

In 2006 an Iranian Kilo test fired a torpedo tube launched anti-ship missile of unknown type reported to resemble the Russian 3M54 Klub-S. This capability would give the Iranian navy another anti-ship missile capability. The Kilo's torpedo tubes were also originally designed to be capable of firing nuclear armed cruise missiles, seen at the time of the test as another potential capability for the Iranian navy. However, the validity of the video footage of this test brought the claim into question soon thereafter.

By 2005 the design was also nearing 30 years old, and the Iranian vessels were no doubt in need of refit. Following negotiations to upgrade the boats with Rosoboronexport, the Russian arms agency, TAREQ began a refit at Bandar Abbas in mid-2005. The Russian shipyard Sevmash was reported to be providing technical assistance during TAREQs refit. The other two KILOs are likely to undergo refits following TAREQ Reportedly, an upgrade might invohre the fitting ofthe submarines with a cruise missile capable of hitting an adversary's surface ship or land target at a range of up to 108 nautical miles.

All three Kilos remained operational as of 2013, but difficulties in maintaining the vessels, designed for colder northern European waters, had resulted in the need to replace the batteries. Iran reportedly had turned to India in 1993 to help develop batteries for the three Kilo-class submarines Iran had bought from Russia. The submarine batteries provided by the Russians were not appropriate for the warm waters of the Persian Gulf, and India had substantial experience operating Kilos in warm waters.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list

Page last modified: 11-07-2019 11:06:41 ZULU