Iran trumpets new naval warfare capabilities

Speedboats can fire cruise missiles at higher speeds than any other navy in the world, commander claims

Illustrative: An Iranian navy vessel launches a missile during a drill in the Sea of Oman, in January 2012. (AP/ISNA, Amir Kholousi)
Illustrative: An Iranian navy vessel launches a missile during a drill in the Sea of Oman, in January 2012. (AP/ISNA, Amir Kholousi)

Iran’s speedboats can carry multiple kinds of anti-ship cruise missiles, and fire them while traveling at speeds higher than missile boats in any other navy in the world, an Iranian defense official claimed Monday.

The official Fars news agency quoted Deputy Defense Minister and Head of Iran’s Aerospace Organization General Mehdi Farah as saying, “Our missiles have the capability of being launched from boats with the speed of over 30 knots,” and listing the available missiles as including Zafar, Nasr, Nour and Qader missiles.

The article noted that Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (Iran’s naval forces are roughly evenly divided between a regular navy and a navy under the command of the revolutionary guards), said in May that the Islamic Republic had allocated thousands of speed boats for military purposes.

“All throughout the world, Iran is the only country which has speed vessels with the ability of firing (rockets and missile) at high speeds,” Fadavi said at the time.

In 2010, Iran announced the production of high-speed missile boats and warned enemies not to “play with fire” by testing their capabilities.

Iran’s navy is an integral part of its strategy of controlling maritime traffic through the Straits of Hormuz, through which much of the world’s oil is transferred.

Unclassified American military assessments have described Iran’s naval warfare doctrine as dependent on “swarming” tactics, in which hordes of small, fast, highly maneuverable ships attack a larger, slower vessel in crowded waters. By these assessments, and according to quotes from senior military officers, Iran’s navy is indeed capable of inflicting considerable damage to ships in the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf, but the US Navy’s massive fleet would ultimately destroy the Iranian forces in any prolonged conflict between the two.

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