Mar 22, 2014

Iran building giant fake U.S. Navy aircraft carrier

Iran is building a nonworking mock-up of an American nuclear-powered aircraft carrier that United States officials say may be intended to be blown up for propaganda value.
Intelligence analysts studying satellite photos of Iranian military installations first noticed the vessel rising from the Gachin shipyard, near Bandar Abbas, last summer. The ship has the same distinctive shape and style of the Navy’s Nimitz-class carriers, as well as the Nimitz’s number 68 neatly painted in white near the bow. Mock aircraft can be seen on the flight deck.
The Iranian mock-up, which American officials described as more like a barge than a warship, has no nuclear propulsion system and is only about two-thirds the length of a typical 1,100-foot-long Navy carrier. Intelligence officials do not believe that Iran is capable of building an actual aircraft carrier.
Analysts says: “Based on our observations, this is not a functioning aircraft carrier; it’s a large barge built to look like an aircraft carrier”(...) “We’re not sure what Iran hopes to gain by building this. If it is a big propaganda piece, to what end?”
Whatever the purpose, American officials acknowledged on Thursday that they wanted to reveal the existence of the vessel to get out ahead of the Iranians.
Navy and other American intelligence analysts surmise that the vessel, which Fifth Fleet wags have nicknamed the Target Barge, is something that Iran could tow to sea, anchor and blow up — while filming the whole thing to make a propaganda point, if, say, the talks with the Western powers over Iran’s nuclear program go south.
Iran has previously used barges as targets for missile firings during training exercises, filmed the episodes and then televised them on the state-run news media, Navy officials said.
But while Iran has tried to conceal its underground nuclear-related sites, the Iranian Navy has taken no steps to cloak from prying Western satellites what it is building pierside at the busy shipyard. “The system is often too opaque to understand who hatched this idea, and whether it was endorsed at the highest levels”.

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