The US Navy has deployed four-foot long underwater drones known as the “SeaFox” submersibles to monitor the Persian Gulf. The underwater drones are the next line in defense against an increasingly hostile Iran and its growing nuclear program.
Over the last several months Tehran has threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz should the West place further sanctions on the country. Ships currently send nearly one-fifth of the world’s tanker bound oil through the Strait of Hormuz.
In recent weeks the United States has built up its presence in the region by sending an unspecified number of F-22 stealth fighters and a “mother-ship” that could float barracks of up to 900 soldiers at a time.
The SeaFox program is meant to increase the US military’s countermine operations with the help of four minesweepers recently added to the four already being used in the area.
The minesweepers are meant to stop threats to commercial maritime traffic, a likely target for Iran should it choose to strike over Western sanctions.
The United States is being especially careful to avoid the Tanker War of the 1980s in which Iranian mines struck several commercial vessels and damaged the USS Samuel Roberts.
Each of the new unmanned submersibles in the area comes with a weight of only 88 lbs and use their homing sonar to seek out and destroy targets. Once a drone finds a mine it attacks, destroying both the mine and the drone.
Analysts question how long Iran could maintain a Strait of Hormuz blockage without completing destroying its own economy. Currently 80% of Iran’s GDP comes from the sale of unrefined oils.