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Analyst: Iran's carrier replica unlikely to be movie prop

Mar. 24, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
An overhead view of the Nimitz-class replica being built by Iran.
An overhead view of the Nimitz-class replica being built by Iran. (DigitalGlove via Navy)
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Iranian media reports that Iran is building a replica of a U.S. aircraft carrier for a prop in an upcoming movie strain credibility, a naval analyst told Military Times.

The New York Times first reported that satellite photographs show the Iranians are building a non-working replica of the USS Nimitz that is two-thirds the size of the actual ship. Iranian newspapers have subsequently reported that the mockup is a prop for an upcoming movie about an Iranian airliner shot down by a U.S. cruiser in 1988, according to The Guardian.

But the costs of building such a big model of a ship make it hard to believe that it would be used for a movie, said Christopher Harmer, of the Institute for the Study of War.

“It only makes sense to build a two-thirds model of a ship for movie if you are making a major commercial success movie,” Harmer told Military Times on Monday.

However, Harmer acknowledged it is possible the Iranians are making a lavish propaganda film along the lines of Nazi epics late in World War II.

“It would be an utterly ridiculous waste of money, but it’s just barely possible that the Iranians are that stupid,” he said.

It is far more likely that the Iranians are building a replica of a U.S. aircraft carrier to practice their swarm techniques, Harmer said. After losing battles with the U.S. Navy in the 1980s, the Iranians realized that they could not defeat the U.S. Navy in a conventional fight, so they have adopted Kamikaze tactics in which hundreds or thousands of small boats armed with rocket launchers or machine guns would launch suicide attacks against U.S. warships.

“What they need is a big ship that looks roughly like an aircraft carrier so they can practice attacking it so they can see what they think would be the vulnerabilities,” Harmer said.

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