US Sends Underwater Drones to Persian Gulf
The remote-controlled SeaFox hunts mines
By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 15, 2012 3:26 PM CDT
A US aircraft carrier in the Strait of Hormuz in January, 2012.   (AP Photo/U.S. Navy, Chief Mass Communication Specialist Eric S. Powell)

(Newser) – As tensions worsen with Iran, the US is adding a new weapon to its Persian Gulf arsenal: the underwater drone. Called the SeaFox, it's a 4-foot-long, remote-controlled submarine capable of hunting for undersea mines and detonating them, reports the Telegraph. Iran has been threatening to blockade the Strait of Hormuz—the most crucial energy waterway worldwide—and Washington figures Iran might lay mines there, as it did in the Tanker Wars of the 1980s.

In fact Iran may be laying more than before, because it built 19 hard-to-track mini-submarines in recent years. Enter the unmanned SeaFox, which weighs a mere 88 pounds and seeks out mines using sonar, exploding on contact and destroying the mine. Washington is also adding air and ground assets in the region, like a group of F-22 stealth fighters and a ship that can carry 900 soldiers.