What is Iran doing building a mock-up of a US aircraft carrier?

Satellite surveillance has detected the Iranian Revolutionary Guards constructing a mock-up of a US Nimitz class aircraft carrier at the Iranian shipyards in Bandar Abbas. For what purpose, intelligence analysts can't say with certainty. But the most likely use for the barge-turned-fake-carrier is for propaganda purposes.

New York Times:

The Iranian mock-up, which American officials described as more like a barge than a warship, has no nuclear propulsion system and is only about two-thirds the length of a typical 1,100-foot-long Navy carrier. Intelligence officials do not believe that Iran is capable of building an actual aircraft carrier.

“Based on our observations, this is not a functioning aircraft carrier; it’s a large barge built to look like an aircraft carrier,” said Cmdr. Jason Salata, a spokesman for the Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, across the Persian Gulf from Iran. “We’re not sure what Iran hopes to gain by building this. If it is a big propaganda piece, to what end?”

Whatever the purpose, American officials acknowledged on Thursday that they wanted to reveal the existence of the vessel to get out ahead of the Iranians.

Navy and other American intelligence analysts surmise that the vessel, which Fifth Fleet wags have nicknamed the Target Barge, is something that Iran could tow to sea, anchor and blow up — while filming the whole thing to make a propaganda point, if, say, the talks with the Western powers over Iran’s nuclear program go south.

Iran has previously used barges as targets for missile firings during training exercises, filmed the episodes and then televised them on the state-run news media, Navy officials said.

“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,” said an American official who has closely followed the construction of the mock-up.

But while Iran has tried to conceal its underground nuclear-related sites, the Iranian Navy has taken no steps to cloak from prying Western satellites what it is building pierside at the busy shipyard. “The system is often too opaque to understand who hatched this idea, and whether it was endorsed at the highest levels,” said Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

America, of course, has no need of such primitive methods. We've got Hollywood. We could create a computer generated, special effects spectacular like, say, digitizing the city of Tehran and blowing it up with a couple of nukes. It would look so real people in Iran might flee the city.

But we have no need for playing such games, so  the Iranian people can rest easy.

This is actually pretty pathetic when you think about it. A Potemkin village at sea to be destroyed so that the Iranian people will feel better about themselves? Some faction in the leadership who authorized building this crazy thing might have to start explaining why they spent millions on this project when the Iranian people are near starvation.

They may be placed on board and become part of the live fire exercise.