By Ali A. Jenabzadeh

Rear Admiral Khanzadi: We’re moving from subsonic to supersonic missiles

October 1, 2020 - 0:0

TEHRAN - In an exclusive interview with the Tehran Times on Thursday, Navy Commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi elaborated on the Iranian Navy’s efforts to modernize its military equipment.

Khanzadi said the Iranian Navy has made tremendous efforts over the past years to modernize its arsenal.

Following is the second part of the interview:

Q: Do you think Israel’s presence in the region inherently has security dimensions and will change the security equations?

A: Yes, I do.

Q; over the past few months, we have seen a propaganda campaign to highlight the military aspects of the UAE-Israel normalization deal, particularly the issue of selling F-35 fighter jets to the UAE. Some analysts believe that the normalization deal is not benefitting the UAE, so they highlighted its military aspect. There are speculations that the military equations in the region would change as a result of the normalization deal. But you think the deal would have intelligence and security implications.

A: Yes. In fact, the normalization deal was reached according to a security approach in line with the U.S. policy of “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran. They think that a relationship between Israel and the UAE would increase the pressure on Iran. This is while we have passed an irreversible threshold in terms of acquiring economic, technological, and defense capabilities. We have reached a stage that if, one day, we were eagerly after buying equipment such as destroyers from other countries today we are not in need of this equipment at all. Because we know that buying defense weapons from another country significantly makes us dependent on that country in the long-term. During the Sacred Defense years [the Iran-Iraq war], we experienced dependence. When they don’t give us even a simple bolt and when the weapons need repairing or maintenance, they refuse to cooperate or repair only after receiving very huge sums of money, then we consider the idea of buying foreign weapons as unfavorable. However, when we use home-grown weapons and native technology, everything goes smoothly without any delay. Today, wherever we need to do maintenance or repair, we immediately dispatch our talented young people to do the job all over the country without strange costs. For example, if our destroyers need to be upgraded, we send these people.

In military exercises, weapons are tested on a real combat ground. When we tested our weapons in the exercises, we understood that we need to take other serious measures. We understood that we need to greatly focus on homegrown torpedoes because they are working very well. Every torpedo we launched so far, has effectively hit the target. Now that we have developed and upgraded the torpedoes to new classes with more destruction power and longer ranges, we should extend this development to all our underwater vehicles, a job we are doing right now.

The point is that the military aspects of the normalization deals will not affect us greatly. Because they live in glass houses. There is a proverb that says “Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones”. This proverb means that the Americans built military bases in the vicinity of our country all of which we see as targets whether be it the Americans or those who gave them bases. They understand that any military action in the region will wreak very heavy damage on them. Once, they were far from our country but now they are closer to us. The Leader of the Islamic Revolution has used a nice statement. The Leader said in war, the one who has a long sword will be victorious because he can thwart the strike of the enemy and wreak havoc. At some point, they were in favor of staying away. For example, the Americans moved their aircraft carrier out of the Persian Gulf and then attacked Iraq. This was an effective strategy. But this strategy doesn’t work with Iran because whether they stay away or come closer, they will be within our reach. The faraway area for them may be their own country. Wherever they station in the region and the Indian Ocean, they will be within our reach. They will not be away from us. Besides, they established so expensive capacities in our vicinity that they will not be able to take these capacities away soon.

Q: Maybe if they take their equipment away quickly, they will be able to protect themselves.

A: At whatever pace they move out of the region, they will be within our reach in the future. The political and economic decline of the U.S. forces it into gradually or abruptly withdraw its forces from the region and redeploy them to its own region. This is already happening and we see some signs in this regard. It remains to be seen whom Arab states will rely upon after the U.S. withdrawal from the region. Inside the region, they didn’t maintain a friend and outside the region, there will be no allies. The history of navy powers shows that no foreign power will remain in the region. First of all, the Portuguese were the dominant power in the region but where they are now. They have no meaningful presence in the region. The Spanish also lost their influence in the region. The British, who once had numerous aircraft carriers, now have no aircraft carriers in the region.

The U.S. will face a similar fate. When I was studying in Pakistan, we had a session called “Ten Minute Talk”, during which we gave lectures to the students and professors. We were given a piece of sheet. We would study it out of the class and then come back to give a lecture about it in ten minutes. A very strange event took place. When I opened the sheet I picked I saw the phrase “Stretch your hand as long as your sleeve,” on it. We have a similar phrase in Persian. I spoke about this phrase, which means that those who stretch their hand further than their sleeve, they will be obliged to go back to square one whether they like it or not, especially if the region’s countries insist on protecting their resources in the face of foreigners.

The center power of global navy power will certainly change. You will see regional powers. The British will not have the opportunity to flex their military muscles. They have left their colonies around the world throughout history. Take a look at the country of the UK. How big is it? How big is it in terms of geography? Geographically, it’s not very big to be a great power. Its power has been eroded over time in history and it’s getting worse on a daily basis. They have so many conflicts among themselves that Scotland will get separated from them soon. The remaining countries will face a similar scenario. So, the UK is headed for collapse. The U.S. is also headed for collapse. The region’s Arab countries should ponder over the future. Kings may only care about themselves, but nations should be careful and see in whose basket they are putting all their eggs. Paying attention to regional capacities, regional convergence, and establishing friendly and brotherly relations on the basis of legitimate national interests will certainly help terminate the insecure atmosphere that the U.S. tries to create in the region. And I think the first stain that will be destroyed in the process will be, God willing, the Zionist regime.

Q: Does Iran embrace the regional countries if they choose to create friendly relations with it?

A: We certainly welcome their efforts in this regard but let them know that in emotional relations, which have their own definition in international relations, historical memories cannot be removed. The bitterer the memories are the more enduring they are. 

Q: You spoke about equipment. Does the Navy plan to unveil new achievements given that the Day of Navy is a few months away?

A: Yes. As the Leader said, this year’s name is “Production Leap”, which has different definitions in national and defense spheres. For us, it means producing more security.

Q: So you don’t increase the number of weapons such as missiles or increase their range?

A: No, because we have so many missiles with various ranges. And we are seeking to make achievements in other sectors. We are moving from subsonic missiles to supersonic missiles, and from traditional decks to modern decks. The traditional deck of a destroyer carries few missiles, but modern ones carry a lot of missiles from surface-to-surface missiles to surface-to-air missiles. We are really turning from a traditional navy to a modern one. We will have a busy November this year (November 27 is the Navy Day in Iran). First of all, we have boosted the combat readiness of our destroyers over the past year. Now they have a better maneuvering capability with more advanced weaponry. They also have better missile defense systems and new precision-guided defense missiles as well as underwater sonar systems. All of our destroyers have been upgraded and now they have all of these capabilities. In November, God willing, we will hold a naval parade with all of our destroyers for the first time on the occasion of Navy Day, which will demonstrate our full combat readiness. The destroyer Dena will join the Navy in November. We made efforts to make this happen during the Sacred Defense Week. But we have done some improvements to it that took a long time. We added some new features to it. Unlike the past, we are in no rush to join destroyers to the Navy, because we want to carefully upgrade our equipment. We have recently paid a visit to Dena. Improvement in working is going fast. This destroyer is an upgraded version of the Jamaran type. And we also have Saba minesweeper, which is designed to be used in demining operations. If the enemy tries to mine our ports or our territories, Saba will help us in demine these territories. We have a Zereh missile cruiser which is Peykan-class and very fast, powerful, and equipped with new missile systems. We have manufactured four Zereh cruisers in the Caspian Sea and the fifth Zereh cruiser is being manufactured in southern Iran. We have a number of old-version Zereh missile cruisers. But we are making more advanced versions of this cruiser.

Besides, we have designed new-generation towboats. When we say towboat, some may say it’s a simple thing that will tow something else. However, towboats are very crucial in accelerating maritime operations. We are manufacturing the strongest of towboats, which is 6,000 horsepower. We didn’t possess such powerful towboats. All of our towboats were imported. But this towboat is being manufactured in Iran.

After November 27, God willing, we will also see the joining of other equipment to the Navy. For example, a new upgraded version of the destroyer Damavand will join the Navy. New capabilities have been added to Damavand which I will declare when it joins the Navy. But it has undergone major and nice changes. It was changed in a way that makes it compatible with the Caspian Sea. We have made a lot of technological works.

Q: Recently, it was announced that Iran is making an unmanned submarine. Can you give us information about this submarine?

A: Submarines are a very broad issue. Today, we have reached the highest level of submarine technology. Unmanned submarines are a little bit complicated. But we are strongly interested in this type of submarines. In past years, the commander-in-chief has reiterated that we should take the control of the region with submarines. He exactly pointed to the enemies’ weak spots. Today, we remain focused on submarines among other things. We are not willing to give more details, but we have a lot of surprises for the enemies and global arrogance.

Q: We would like to discuss the Navy’s social services. Does the Navy engage in providing social services? The Leader of the Islamic Revolution has issued orders to make the Persian Gulf islands inhabitable. Does the navy has any role in making these islands inhabitable?

A: Over the past years, we have created a division of labor. Accordingly, the IRGC’s navy is responsible for the Persian Gulf region. Most of our islands are located there. Therefore, the efforts that are being done by our dear colleagues in the IRGC in their area of responsibility are very valuable. They take measures to increase the stability in the Persian Gulf. We [the Army’s Navy] are mainly focused on eastern territories. Over the past 10 years, we have built a number of big bases there. For example, thanks to the deployment of the Navy in Jask, thousands of employees moved to Jask, which lacked infrastructures in the past, but the Navy created infrastructures such as roads, airports, and ports. A national airport has been built in Jask. The Navy invested there. When we station our forces there, this means that government employees make a living there. If you visit Jask today, you will see the difference. Jask has tremendously changed over the past years. Similarly, Konarak has also changed. Konarak is near Chabahar and we seek to develop it. These are our very important civilization centers. The Leader has said the Sea of Oman is the backyard of the Persian Gulf. The Army also helps people during natural disasters. The first forces that rushed to help the people during the latest floods that hit Sistan-Balouchestan and Hormozgan provinces were the army forces.

The Army also holds industrial training courses in southern Iran, where we also built two big hospitals with advanced capabilities. These hospitals will be inaugurated soon. We built a 128-bed hospital in Bandar Abbas and another 96-bed one in Konarak. Last year, we also started the construction of Jask’s hospital.

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