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07/10/23: U.S Navy Sends Naval Drones, UUVs To Spy On Iranian Warships And Gunboats In Hormuz Strait

The United States sent naval drones to keep an eye on Iranian Warships and gunboats in Middle Eastern waters last month, the U.S Navy revealed.

This operation was conducted as Washington vowed to prevent Iran from harassing international military and commercial ships in the strategic waterway.

Vessels from Iran’s regular Navy and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) were tracked for many days in September.

U.S Naval Forces Central Command, or NAVCENT, informed that this mission took place during the routine patrols in the Hormuz Strait, lying between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. It involved members from the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S Navy and Coast Guard, aircraft and ships, including guided-missile destroyer USS McFaul.

NAVCENT also said that several unmanned underwater vehicles or UUVs, Unmanned Surface Vehicles or USVs and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or UAVs were an important part of the mission, which reinforced the presence of the US in a region where Iran has illegally seized international commercial vessels in the past few months.

Per reports, a USV named Arabian Fox MAST-13, which looks like a normal speedboat, took photographs of Iranian fast attack boats, helicopters and drones.

These fast attack boats are equipped with firearms and monitor the area, often harassing U.S military vessels and commercial ships.

A drone video shared by the US Navy in May showed several of these speedboats seizing a Panama-flagged oil tanker.

Captain Joe Baggett, director of maritime operations for NAVCENT and the U.S. Fifth Fleet, said, “We have been operating UAVs and unmanned aerial vehicles in the region for years. Adding our new USVs and then integrating all of these platforms into fleet operations is how we hope to fly and sail in the future.”

Photographs of the operation include images of an IRGCN warship and an Iranian Navy frigate. The former was photographed by MARTAC T-38 Devil Ray USV and the latter by Aerovel Flexrotor, a UAV.

Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, NAVCENT commander, said that adding unmanned platforms into regular fleet operations would improve maritime security in the region, strengthen regional stability and allow safe passage of cargo around the Hormuz Strait, one of the crucial oil chokepoints in the world.

Apart from drones, the U.S has deployed fighter jets and warships in the region, including a recent deployment of over 3000 U.S sailors and Marines with the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group and 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

By doing so, the U.S is sending a message to Iran. If the presence of U.S forces is reduced in the region in future, and Iran steps up again, the U.S forces will be back right away, added Lt. Gen. Alexus G. Grynkewich, commander of U.S. Air Forces Central Command.

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