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Oh, Ahmadinejad!
September 28, 2010 4:18 PM   Subscribe

The BBC breathlessly reports a new Iranian wonder weapon. Except that it is not new. Not Iranian either. And possibly not much of a weapon...

Call me back when they get a Lun.
posted by Skeptic (58 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
They should have used a jet engine.
posted by kuatto at 4:19 PM on September 28, 2010


skeptic, I love the ekranoplan!
posted by wilful at 4:21 PM on September 28, 2010


Ground effect craft eh? Neat.

I assume they are for the traditional Iranian practice of harassing shipping in international waters - the piratical assholes who should be sunk on sight if you ask me.
posted by Artw at 4:23 PM on September 28, 2010


Oh, shit, I borked the not new link. Here's the correct one. (Spoiler: it's a 40-year old Soviet design).
posted by Skeptic at 4:23 PM on September 28, 2010


Perhaps they all want to fly up north to shoot moose or something.
posted by GuyZero at 4:24 PM on September 28, 2010


So, now we can't trust the Beeb, either?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:28 PM on September 28, 2010


Seems like something that could could fly over flat ground would be more useful to them.

At any rate, doesn't seem like a huge threat, unless they acquire enough of them to be able to move an invasion beachhead force on them; that would probably start to make the Gulf states pretty nervous. But with just a handful they seem more like a prestige weapon than anything practically useful.

Wonder if current missiles will have to be reprogrammed to hit them? They might be moving pretty fast for anti-ship and ground-attack missiles, but below the altitude an anti-aircraft missile expects to operate at. Not an advantage that would last very long, though.
posted by Kadin2048 at 4:34 PM on September 28, 2010


I imagine the existing countermeasures may be fairly effective against a craft such as that.
posted by Xoebe at 4:34 PM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


So, now we can't trust the Beeb, either?

Hmm

To be honest, I can't say who really say who wins the "who can be most skeptical" award, but it's not like everyone is jumping to take this completely at face value.

The most likely interpretation would seem to be that Iran has a well funded Ekranoplan enthusiast placed high in government who gets funding to build and awful lot of kit vehicles.
posted by Artw at 4:36 PM on September 28, 2010


I understand how the fishermen will be frightened. Will battleships get skeered too?
posted by uraniumwilly at 4:43 PM on September 28, 2010


Previously
posted by Artw at 4:44 PM on September 28, 2010


"These flying boats can avoid radar..."

Not with open propellers and pontoons, they can't.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:44 PM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also on the BBC mideast homepage: Iran jails pioneering blogger for 'anti-state activity'

More on that at meta.
posted by Artw at 4:47 PM on September 28, 2010


I imagine the existing countermeasures may be fairly effective against a craft such as that.

It's weird the photo says 900+ rounds and the article says "The Gatling gun fires 20mm ammunition at either 3,000 or 4,500 rounds-per-minute with a burst length of continuous, 60, or 100 rounds."

I have a vision of a very busy phalanx round-feeding sailor.
posted by uraniumwilly at 4:48 PM on September 28, 2010


I have a vision of a very busy phalanx round-feeding sailor.

It's called the Goalkeeper Close-In Weapons System for a reason -- it has only a few seconds worth of ammo. Because that's all the time it's going to get to shoot at the incoming missile.

Otherwise, it's GOOOOOOOOOOOAL ... and a bunch of dead sailors.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:52 PM on September 28, 2010


These things are no Excocet.
posted by Artw at 5:04 PM on September 28, 2010


Researching ekranoplans was recently added to my to-do list — one makes an appearance in William Gibson's latest book. Thanks for reading my mind!
posted by Jubal Kessler at 5:05 PM on September 28, 2010


The most likely interpretation would seem to be that Iran has a well funded Ekranoplan enthusiast placed high in government who gets funding to build and awful lot of kit vehicles
To: Mahmūd Ahmadinezhād (President, Islamic Republic of Iran)
From: Rear Admiral Fiasco da Gama (Duck Creek Fleet, Parramatta River Squadron)
Subj: Availability for employment in experimental craft development
----
Mr President, salam!
I have attached my resume and a written application for work in your country's
experimental weapons development program.  As you may read in detail I have
extensive experience in researching all kinds of practically useless but very
visually impressive vehicles.  I maintain a keen interest especially in Soviet-
era weapons, especially of the impractically large variety, but also of the kind
which is cheap, disposable and inherently unsafe to its user/pilot.
In the interests of full disclosure I am a regular user of alcohol, an Australian
citizen, liberal humanist, quasi-Catholic and pro-feminist. However for the 
right amount of support in developing appropriately ridiculous weaponry 
I am happy to make a genuine conversion to whatever authoritarian reading 
of Islam your country's political system may require.
I am, 
Sincerely,
RADM Fiasco da Gama 
PS. I'm totally into military march-pasts and can bring my own uniform

posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:06 PM on September 28, 2010 [13 favorites]


So, what are they gonna use on the ground? Segways?
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 5:06 PM on September 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


IIRC a ground effect fighter shows up briefly in Count Zero.
posted by Artw at 5:06 PM on September 28, 2010


Ground effect craft, being unable to bank much and not having rudders in the water, can't turn much at all.
posted by squorch at 5:08 PM on September 28, 2010


Fiasca da Gama - you are assured a position in my regime in the unlikely event of an ArtW takeover.
posted by Artw at 5:08 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, what are they gonna use on the ground? Segways?

Does Iran have cliffs?
posted by Artw at 5:10 PM on September 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


Compared to a wave-hopping antiship missile, these things are larger, slower, and easier to hit. I don't think they represent a significant increased risk.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:11 PM on September 28, 2010


"highly advanced" and "speeds of 100 knots." Meh - let's go back 60 years, then we can talk about how advanced this secret weapon is.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:11 PM on September 28, 2010


So, what are they gonna use on the ground? Segways?
If they're modelling their forces on the Chinese anti-terrorist police, perhaps.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:24 PM on September 28, 2010


Reminds me of the supercavitating torpedo Iran announced a few years back. It was accurately pointed out that the US does not have this technology.

But then it was pointed out that we totally don't want it, because the things are almost completely useless.

On the upside, the more money they spend on silly crap like this, the less they're throwing at Bushehr.
posted by valkyryn at 5:26 PM on September 28, 2010


Seems like something that could could fly over flat ground would be more useful to them.

I'm sure they can. What's the difference? They just won't be able to lift back up if they do.
posted by delmoi at 5:30 PM on September 28, 2010


The BBC breathlessly reports a new Iranian wonder weapon. Except that it is not new. Not Iranian either. And possibly not much of a weapon...

posted by Skeptic (29 comments total) [add to favorites] 2 users marked this as a favorite [!]


Eponysterical!
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:32 PM on September 28, 2010


It's called the Goalkeeper Close-In Weapons System for a reason -- it has only a few seconds worth of ammo. Because that's all the time it's going to get to shoot at the incoming missile.
So what happens when the enemy fires, like, 10 missiles at once? Or 10 missiles and 20 decoys? They've got to be cheaper then carriers.
posted by delmoi at 5:33 PM on September 28, 2010


I imagine the .50 cal machineguns of any warshi[ would be sufficient to reduce them to kindliing.

if they're packing missiles, they don't need to get that close - but it's hard for me to believe they'd be able to pack that many missles on a boat like that - even harder for me to understand why you just couldn't put them on a regular speedboat

i guess you could dodge torpedoes with them

it doesn't seem real impressive, does it?
posted by pyramid termite at 5:34 PM on September 28, 2010


Paging Mr Gibson....
posted by digitalprimate at 5:40 PM on September 28, 2010


Jetpack penguins would be more impressive.
posted by Artw at 6:07 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


> Call me back when they get a Lun.

I love anything that has jet engines, wings, a boat hull, and moves on rails.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:33 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


why you just couldn't put them on a regular speedboat

but then you couldnt fly.
frikkin seawizz would make vapor of these things in.08 sec.
posted by clavdivs at 6:35 PM on September 28, 2010


So what happens when the enemy fires, like, 10 missiles at once? Or 10 missiles and 20 decoys? They've got to be cheaper then carriers.

Couple of things...

* Ships defend themselves in layers, starting with radars and aircraft with radars, and other ships in battlegroups. If you can detect the other guy first, you're way ahead of the game, because you can engage him with longer range offensive weapons, defensive missiles or even electronic countermeasures before he ever fires. CIWS is merely the end point, last ditch effort to catch the weapons that have made it through the other layers. When the Sheffield went down in the Falklands, it was the result of a catastrophic breakdown of ALL of their systems.

* CIWS never fires for extended lengths of time. Think of it as if it's "spitting" highly targeted bullets in small bursts. 10 seconds worth of shells can be spread out to engage several targets.

* You'll often have more than one system of this type on the ship. It's never going to be 10 against one.

* There are no anti-ship decoys that I'm aware of, but I could be wrong and don't have time to go look right now. If you can make a self-guided missile, you've already built the expensive part. Might as well give it a warhead, so there's no point to creating a decoy version.

* You mention carriers. Realize that carriers are NEVER alone. They are always traveling in a battlegroup of destroyers and frigates specifically designed to protect the carrier. Also, carriers have plenty of aircraft to protect itself way out beyond the ranges of anti-ship missiles.

* It's also interesting to note that the original airborne Exocet missile system was purpose-built for a French aircraft ... The original Etenard, I think. Basically, the missile and the aircraft were designed for each other. The aircraft couldn't do anything except carry that missile. Which made it really expensive, and not something you're going to use for the hell of it.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:27 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, and the USS Stark was hit by two Iranian Exocets in the 80s, and wasn't sunk. It's not an automatic ship-killer.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:33 PM on September 28, 2010


very cool
posted by clavdivs at 7:35 PM on September 28, 2010


[few comments removed - take a walk if you can't talk about things respectfully with other posters.]
posted by jessamyn at 7:41 PM on September 28, 2010


maybe they're going after womp rats in beggars canyon...
posted by Redhush at 7:45 PM on September 28, 2010


"So what happens when the enemy fires, like, 10 missiles at once? Or 10 missiles and 20 decoys? They've got to be cheaper then carriers."

Delmoi, I'm actually shocked that you've never read Clancy's Red Storm Rising. One part covers exactly this scenario, except it's well over 100 missiles and decoys.

You'll have to read it to find out what happens. :)
posted by zoogleplex at 7:53 PM on September 28, 2010


> I'm actually shocked that you've never read Clancy's Red Storm Rising.

Or, to save yourself from reading 800 pages of xenophobic war pr0n, the Russkies blew a giant hole in USS Nimitz but it was still able to limp home.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:00 PM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Those little planes are so cute when they do that circle dance. They belong on Daily Squee or something.
posted by jet_silver at 8:01 PM on September 28, 2010


Oh my god. Iran is almost as terrifying as Nicaragua. Quick, to the war things!
posted by notion at 8:11 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ooooohhh! Iran!!!! The Western governments of the world want YOU to be VERY AFRAID!!!!!
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:47 PM on September 28, 2010


[few comments removed - take a walk if you can't talk about things respectfully with other posters.]

perhaps the rear-admiral sent some 20 mike-mike towards way-ward flying no-no.

No. Dr. NO. Yes.
See, you get alot of PR for the both "sides".

-The Flying boats look cool, capable of penetrating an American incursion.
(Imperilizt dogmonster slogans stamping away)

or
-look, iran is preparing themselves with secret suicide squadrons soaring silently sans sinking said ship(s).

Flummery
posted by clavdivs at 8:56 PM on September 28, 2010


Ahmadinejad is Joaquin Phoenix and Dick Cheney is Casey Affleck. Don't fall for it this time.
posted by humanfont at 9:06 PM on September 28, 2010


Or, to save yourself from reading 800 pages of xenophobic war pr0n, the Russkies blew a giant hole in USS Nimitz but it was still able to limp home.

Spoiler, you insensitive clod!
posted by codswallop at 10:11 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Researching ekranoplans was recently added to my to-do list — one makes an appearance in William Gibson's latest book.

Yeah, thanks for that.
posted by pompomtom at 10:14 PM on September 28, 2010


Seems like something that could could fly over flat ground would be more useful to them.
--Kadin2048

That's how you got to Westworld!
posted by eye of newt at 10:19 PM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


They look like fun. Is Iran-Disney opening anytime soon?
posted by Cranberry at 10:48 PM on September 28, 2010


It was discovered a while back that you can simply overwhelm a CIWS by firing several missiles in a volley. The Russians had several volley missiles. One of them would be launched in salvos of three. The first missile would take the lead, ahead and higher than the rest, and feed them targeting data. If it was destroyed, one of the remaining missiles would pop in front and up a bit.

I suspect in a real war we'd find that the CIWS was an expensive and worthless gadget.
posted by Sukiari at 1:51 AM on September 29, 2010


So, now we can't trust the Beeb, either?

The clip is a piece of film from Iranian state television. The BBC voice-over simply says that they've taken delivery of a bunch of these things.

Unless they've substituted the original film to fuck with Skeptic, there are:

- No claims that they're new technology
- No claims that it's Iranian technology
- No real claims about the 'wonderous' nature, other than restating Iran's claim about their intended purpose for the vehicles.

Perhaps you should have written 'So now we can't trust Metafilter, either?'
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:37 AM on September 29, 2010


PeterMcDermott, the BBC voiceover says that the things: a) are "stealthy" (wonderous enough with those propellers),
b) are "entirely Iranian-made", which is a bit cheeky considering that they are pretty damn identical to the old Soviet Eska-1.
As for the novelty, it's certainly implied: why would this be newsworthy otherwise?
For that matter, the Beeb also reports that they're "armed with machine-guns". Not only can't I spot any, but I can't even see where they could fit one (unless, by "machine gun" they understand some assault rifle or submachine gun...not much cop against shipping)
posted by Skeptic at 3:23 AM on September 29, 2010


no, skeptic - they don't claim they are "entirely iranian-made" they say "domestically built". Do you have any evidence to contradict that? Also, like PeterMcDermott I don't hear any claims as to it's wondrous nature, and it seems very odd to me that all the uncharacteristic sabre rattling in this thread is making fun of at the inability of these things to take out a battleship when the only intended use actually mentioned in the clip is "surveillance" - a task to which they seem rather well suited to me.
posted by silence at 4:48 AM on September 29, 2010


it seems very odd to me that all the uncharacteristic sabre rattling in this thread is making fun of at the inability of these things to take out a battleship when the only intended use actually mentioned in the clip is "surveillance" - a task to which they seem rather well suited to me

What the hell are you going to be able to see whizzing along at 100 knots a few feet off the ground? Using them for surveillance seems about as sensible as doing recon with an F1 car. For surveillance, you'd do better to putter around at a low speed at a couple-few thousand feet... a Cessna 172 or even a random cheap-ass ultralight would do better.

These things seem more suited to petty harassment than anything else... zipping around doing the naval version of "Does this bother you? I'm not touching you!"
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:57 AM on September 29, 2010


There was a huuuuge Soviet design for things like this that carried three pairs of cruise missle tubes and which could deliver a company-sized group (or larger?) to shore.
http://igor113.livejournal.com/51213.html

Look up the A-90, which design was later built as the Lun mentioned in the OP. Those thingslook awwwwwwesome (in a kind of flashy but tactically almost-useless way).
posted by wenestvedt at 8:19 AM on September 29, 2010


U.S. targets Iranian officials over abuses
posted by Artw at 11:23 AM on September 29, 2010


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