Iran Builds Fake U.S. Aircraft Carrier, Presumably So They Can Blow It Up Later

Iran appears to be building a fake American aircraft carrier in a shipyard. While studying satellite imagery from above Iran, U.S. intelligence analysts spotted a structure that looks suspiciously similar to the Navy’s Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, complete with standard Navy markings and fake airplanes. What’s unclear is why this is being done, and by whom.

A Navy spokesman confirmed that it’s “not a functioning aircraft carrier,” but rather “a large barge built to look like an aircraft carrier.” It lacks the nuclear propulsion system of a real aircraft carrier, and is only two-thirds as big as the real thing. While it’s located near an Iranian military installation, it’s unclear who commissioned the project, or how high up Iranian leadership it goes.

U.S. officials aren’t sure what the purpose of the fake ship is, but the leading theory at this point is that it’s being built so that Iran can tow it out to sea and blow it up later for some sort of propaganda purposes.

While the U.S. and Iran have made significant diplomatic headway since the election of moderate President Hassan Rouhani last year, hardliners in Iran — as in the U.S. — oppose the rapprochement, especially the ongoing negotiations surrounding Iran’s nuclear weapons program. One way for the Iranian regime to demonstrate its strength if the negotiations fail would be to film and air footage of the Iranian Navy destroying a U.S. aircraft carrier.

“It is not surprising that Iranian military forces might use a variety of tactics — including military deception tactics — to strategically communicate and possibly demonstrate their resolve in the region.”

Image credit: Digitalglobe

The strangest part of the already-strange story? Iran apparently hasn’t taken any steps to keep the project under wraps, as it’s being built in clear daylight, with no sort of structure covering it at all.

“We’re not sure what Iran hopes to gain by building this,” Navy spokesman Jason Salata said. “If it is a big propaganda piece, to what end?”