It is common practice worldwide to equip naval ships with air defenses. Iran is merely boasting that its smaller ships now have this capability. This is due to the lack of numerous large surface ships in Iran’s navy.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)’s naval arm claims to have equipped its fast attack boats with “laser-guided missiles” and “air defense.” This follows a string of recent assertions made by the IRGC regarding the upgrading of its navy.
While Iran has an official navy, the IRGC has its own ships. Despite the fact that they serve distinct purposes, the two factions vie for regime resources.
While the regular navy has larger ships and performs longer-range missions, the IRGC Navy is involved in the development of new weapons and harasses foreign navies.
The IRGC navy has worked over the past few years to improve its hundreds of fast attack boats of various types. Iran claims to have fitted two classes of its ships with long-range missiles just a few days ago. Presently, reports at Tasnim News, which is favorable to system and near the IRGC, has said that Iran has “quick vessels of the IRGC with laser-directed rockets and air safeguard.” According to the report, anti-ship missiles have also been installed on a new generation of Tandoor vessels.
“During this ceremony, new high-speed vessels were delivered to the IRGC Navy, which had a different design from the vessels that came before them and was equipped with laser-guided missiles instead of rockets,” Tasnim reported. The anti-ship missiles, which were mentioned earlier in the week, have also been added to ships, according to the report, and their range can reach up to 180 kilometers.
According to the report, “the IRGC became the first owner of high-speed boats with the ability to carry air defense missiles in the world” after “the Zulfiqar high-speed boat with the ability to fire “Nawab” air defense missiles was also delivered to this force” during the ceremony.
“Among the new vessels that were delivered to the IRGC Navy was also the supply ship Shahid Mahdavi.” This vessel can carry two Mi17 helicopters, a variety of drones, high-speed vessels, and anti-ship cruise missiles, and it has a length of 240 meters.
The report clearly aims to demonstrate strength at sea by sending a message to other regional naval powers.
Iran is looking to demonstrate new capabilities because it recently signed a deal with Saudi Arabia. The effect on Iran’s support for the Houthis in Yemen is unknown. However, a stronger IRGC Navy equipped with air defense and anti-ship missiles will clearly demonstrate Iran’s seriousness regarding its naval operations in the Gulf of Oman and coastal areas.
Additionally, Iran enjoys boasting about capabilities that may or may not exist. Although Iran has shown boats that look like missile tubes, it is unclear how the missiles would be guided, operated, or where the radar and other technology for air defense would be integrated into this new capability.