Positioning for war with Iran?
By End the Lie
There are some distinct geopolitical rumblings occurring in the general region surrounding Iran that is quite concerning for someone like myself and I’m sure Tehran as well.
This includes a major sale of cutting-edge F-15SA fighter jets to Saudi Arabia, Iran spotting the John C. Stennis aircraft carrier entering the Strait of Hormuz, a sale of advanced missile interceptor systems to the United Arab Emirates, warnings from the Russian envoy to the United Nations of global destabilization in 2012 and new awards for Raytheon for the AESA radar system and contracts for US/NATO missile systems.
After Iran threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz if the West continued to push for sanctions on Iranian oil exports, the United States’ Fifth Fleet out of Bahrain countered with similar saber-rattling.
The Iranian navy chief, Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, stated that closing the Strait of Hormuz would be “easier than drinking a glass of water.”
“Anyone who threatens to disrupt freedom of navigation in an international strait is clearly outside the community of nations; any disruption will not be tolerated,” the Fifth Fleet responded in an e-mail to Reuters.
Iran is currently engaged in a massive 10-day-long naval exercise in international waters near the Strait of Hormuz, in an apparent attempt to show their naval might in the region.
However, Reuters has reported that the entire Iranian navy cannot hold a candle to the US Fifth Fleet, which boasts over 20 ocean-range warships and some 15,000 personnel.
The Strait of Hormuz is not only a tactically crucial region but also a critical trade route with up to 40% of the world’s oil supply passing through the strait.
The United States and Europe are some of the most major consumers of this oil supply, so it is quite obvious that if Iran decided to close the strait there would be a significant backlash from the West.
Yesterday Russia Today published an article based on reports from the official Iranian news agency, IRNA, which stated that an Iranian warplane had spotted an American aircraft carrier as it was entering the Gulf of Oman from the Persian Gulf.
This report also comes from Admiral Sayyari, who told IRNA, “An Iranian vessel and surveillance plane have tracked, filmed and photographed a US aircraft carrier as it was entering the Gulf of Oman from the Persian Gulf.”
Sayyari also stated that the US fleet would be “warned by Iranian forces” if it were to move into the area of the Iranian naval exercise.
It is unclear if they mean a peaceful warning, perhaps via radio contact, or a more forceful warning, which could very well bring retaliation from the American fleet.
Yesterday the US Navy confirmed that the aircraft carrier John C. Stennis was indeed traveling to the Gulf of Oman with guided-missile cruiser Mobile Bay and several other vessels.
Lieutenant Rebecca Rebarich, the spokesperson for the US Fifth Fleet stated that this was merely a “pre-planned, routine transit” due to the fact that the group was headed to provide support for coalition forces in Afghanistan.
Regardless, the timing of the “routine transit” and the route they are following is quite suspicious and likely a matter for concern on the part of the Iranian navy.
There is also the deal between the United States and Saudi Arabia for $29.4 billion worth of new F-15SA fighter jets manufactured by Boeing.
This includes 84 brand new aircraft and the modernization of 70 existing aircraft, along with the required munitions, spare parts, training, maintenance and logistics.
White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Joshua Earnest said that the F-15SA is “the most sophisticated and capable aircraft in the world.”
This is noteworthy because Saudi Arabia shares the Persian Gulf with Iran along with American allies Bahrain and Qatar.
While military deals with Saudi Arabia and other allies in the region is far from new, the timing of this latest agreement is likely to fuel the fire of possible conflict between Western nations and their allies and Iran possibly along with Russia and China.
The United Arab Emirates has also signed a deal worth some $2.49 billion for the newest missile interceptor system sold by Lockheed Martin, according to anonymous government officials.
The Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, is being billed as the centerpiece of the Obama administration’s planned regional defense system in the Middle East, which will supposedly thwart Iranian medium- and long-range ballistic missiles.
The batteries of the land-based missile interceptor systems will be linked to the US Navy’s detection systems, which are on Aegis-class destroyer and cruiser vessels.
The first installment of the so-called “undefinitized contract action” between the United States and the UAE is valued in the neighborhood of $1.96 billion, according to the unnamed US official who requested to remain anonymous due to the fact that they are not authorized to discuss the signing of the deal prior to the Pentagon’s announcement.
The official said that the Pentagon may officially announce the contract action as soon as next week but a Lockheed Martin spokesperson refused to discuss timing of the announcement while confirming that they continue to work with the Pentagon’s missile Defense Agency on contracts.
The construction of the THAAD system reads like a who’s who of the defense contracting world.
The system’s radar is manufactured by Raytheon, the missile’s mission computer by Honeywell, the THAAD’s rocket motor provided by Aerojet (part of California-based GenCorp) and the missile seeker by an American subsidiary of UK-based BAE Systems.
The deal was discussed first in September of 2008 when the Pentagon estimated the deal to be worth as much as $6.95 billion.
However, in August 2010, the UAE reduced the acquisition roughly one third from 144 interceptors to 96.
Similarly, the UAE scaled back the purchase of Raytheon’s AN/TYPY-2 mobile search and tracking radar from four to two units.
According to the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency, the new radar systems are capable of supporting two missile batteries, whereas previously it supported three.
The Russian envoy to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, also said that the steadily increasing confrontation between Western nations and Iran could “drastically destabilize the international situation in 2012,” according to the Voice of Russia.
Churkin stated that Russia is currently doing its best to help stave off such a grim scenario while adding that Iran very well may decline to continue dialogue with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over the Iranian nuclear program.
In November, Russia expressed doubt over the credibility of the IAEA’s report regarding the military nature of Iran’s nuclear program.
The West continues to insist that the Iranian program has military goals while Tehran continuously states that the program is purely civilian in nature.
Churkin said that they hope to resume six-party talks on the Iranian nuclear program in 2012.
Raytheon has also received orders valued around $320 million for the cutting-edge AESA radar system, along with an additional $72 million in contracts for US/NATO missile systems.
United Press International (UPI) reported yesterday that the identities of the parties who ordered the AESA system, which is an active electronic beam scanning radar system, have not been disclosed.
The delivery schedules for the contracts have yet to be announced as well.
The AESA system has a radar beam, which can be used to garner near real time air-to-air and air-to-ground information with a radar beam that is directed close to the speed of light.
Raytheon stated that they have delivered over 300 units of the AESA system to what UPI calls “a variety of customers in the United States and overseas.”
“We expect to see continued growth in this area,” Mark Kula, the vice president of Tactical Airborne Systems, Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems, stated.
The first award of the total of $72 million was from the US Naval Sea Systems Command and is reportedly for the Phalanx, land-based Phalanx, SeaRAM, and SeaSparrow surface missiles that are used by NATO.
The first contract will include Raytheon providing both engineering and technical support services for the Phalanx systems, which currently provides the missile defense for American ships.
A provision of an unknown number of SeaSparrow MK57, MOD 12/13 systems along with missile launchers and spare parts are included in the second award.
The fact that the parties who ordered the AESA system are not being disclosed is somewhat concerning given the rest of the geopolitical maneuverings we are witnessing right now, however I do not think we should jump to conclusions just yet.
If the West is planning to go to war with Iran – which looks increasingly likely – these developments fit in perfectly with such an operation.
At this point, all we can do is hope that Western nations aren’t insane enough to actually strike Iran, which could very well ignite a global conflict.