In an article for Fox News, Kris Osborn, managing editor of the American military news outlet Warrior Maven noted that US Navy ships have a spate of modern weapons to “destroy Iranian threats in the Persian Gulf if needed”.
According to him, these include attack drones, deck-mounted guns, electronic warfare weapons (EW), and “and even lasers” which Osborn said could be used as a “lethal response” to what he described as “provocations, hostile actions, or attacks” by Iranian forces.
The deck-mounted weaponry, the author went on, includes 5-inch guns installed on US cruisers and destroyers, while littoral combat ships are equipped with 50 calibre machine guns and 57mm “small boat destroying” weapons.
He also recalled that US Navy surface ships are armed with the so-called Close-In-Weapons System (CIWS) which is “fully capable of destroying swarms of attacking small boats moving on the surface at close ranges”.
The Navy’s ship defence system is comprised of SM-3 and the SM-6 missile interceptors as well as the Rolling Airframe Missile or SeaRam interceptor, plus the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile Block 2, according to Osborn.
As for lasers, they are designed to “detect and then incinerate incoming attacks”, while EW could be used “to jam or thwart the electronic sensors and guidance systems of approaching weapons, therefore disabling their ability to strike”, the author wrote.
The article comes after General John Hyten, Vice Cairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters on Thursday that US Navy commanders “have the authority right now to respond to any hostile act or hostile intent", in the Persian Gulf.
Trump Orders Crackdown on Iranian Gunboats
The remarks followed US President Donald Trump announcing on his Twitter page on Tuesday that he had instructed the Navy “to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea”.
I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 22, 2020
A spokesperson for the Iranian Armed Forces responded by advising Washington to focus on saving its own military from the coronavirus outbreak instead. According to a recent report by the Pentagon, the number of COVID-19 cases within the US Department of Defence has reached nearly 5,000.
Trump has raised the issue of Iranian boats allegedly harassing American vessels in the past, reportedly urging former Pentagon chief James Mattis to come up with a plan to deal with Iranian "fast boats".
POTUS’ latest instruction comes amid ongoing tensions between Tehran and Washington, which escalated after top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani was assassinated in a US drone strike in Baghdad on 3 January 2020.
The tensions have been in place since Trump announced Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May 2018, also reinstating harsh economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Exactly a year later, Iran announced that it had begun suspending some of its JCPOA obligations.