February 11, 2021
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps claimed this week that it received 340 new vessels, mostly the small fast boats it uses in the Persian Gulf that sometimes harass US ships. The vessels were displayed in Bandar Abbas in Iran.
“The exact numbers and status as ‘new’ should be treated with healthy skepticism,” notes H.I. Sutton, an expert on naval issues who writes and maintains a website devoted to this topic.
Iran has received a number of small vessels, he notes. “Many are armed with multiple rockets, light anti-ship missiles, or lightweight torpedoes.”
According to his analysis, the boats that were received include a design from the UK called “bladerunner” that has been repurposed by Iran. There is also a Taedong-B North Korean submersible boat. North Korea and Iran have cooperated in the past on missile technology. There are also C-14 “China cat” missile boats, which Iran has used for many years.
Of particular interest is that Iran has now mounted drones on some of the boats. Sutton identifies these as Ababil drones. Fars News doesn’t mention the drones, but video and still images show them mounted atop several vessels.
“The speedboats that are capable of carrying and firing various missiles and rockets and supporting diving operations joined IRGC Naval Combat Organization in Bandar Abbas,” said Fars News. “The light, fast and offensive speedboats that were built in the centers affiliated with the IRGC Navy and in cooperation with the Defense Ministry will be ready for missions and operations in the Persian Gulf, the Sea of Oman and the Caspian Sea.”
IRGC Navy head Alireza Tangsiri had announced in October 2019 that Iran plans to manufacture speedboats in the near future.
“Today, marine vessels that cruise at 90 knots/h will be unveiled,” Tangsiri said at the time.
Drones were first mounted on Iranian IRGC boats last year. According to reports at the time, some 70 Ababil-2 kamikaze drones were put on the IRGC vessels. It is not clear how well they work. However, the addition of drones could pose a threat to ships in the Persian Gulf.
Iran has often harassed US naval ships, and former US President Donald Trump even threatened to sink IRGC boats if they continued the maneuvers.
The Jerusalem Post