Iran Is Building a Fake U.S. Aircraft Carrier, Possibly So They Can Blow It Up

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The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, a real Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. Photo: Miguel Angel Contreras/U.S. Navy via Getty Images

Iran is still negotiating with world powers about limiting its nuclear program, but if things go south, they have a spectacular ending in mind – or rather, had. U.S officials may have spoiled it by revealing that Iran is building a mock-up of an American aircraft carrier. The New York Times reports that since last summer, satellite photos have picked up images of a ship being built near Bandar Abbas that looks suspiciously like the Navy’s Nimitz-class carriers – though it's two-thirds the size and has no nuclear propulsion system. "Based on our observations, this is not a functioning aircraft carrier; it’s a large barge built to look like an aircraft carrier," said Commander Jason Salata, a spokesman for the Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain. "We’re not sure what Iran hopes to gain by building this. If it is a big propaganda piece, to what end?"

One leading theory: They're planning to blow it up. In the past, Iran has fired missiles at barges during training exercises, then aired the footage on state-run news media. Recently, the Iranians have cut back on their anti-American posturing during naval exercises, but if the mood changes, they could tow the barge out to sea and destroy it to make one impressive propaganda film.

According to the Times, "For now, Navy analysts and American intelligence officials say they are not unduly concerned about the mock ship." But making a 700-foot model aircraft carrier, complete with little planes on the flight deck, does take a lot of work, so let's act surprised if they do blow it up.