Has Iran launched a new stealth missile boat?

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Iran has launched one of its new stealth catamarans “missile corvettes” according to open source intelligence analyzed by expert HI Sutton, who runs the Cover Shores website. He noted that this happened as many were distracted by the surveillance of the Iranian warship Makran which is sailing near the UK this week.

At the same time, a new boat has been launched in recent weeks. “The boat, which is a large stealth catamaran, was launched into a yard on Qeshm Island between June 27 and July 2,” Sutton noted. This ship is described as one of many ships under construction to be referred to as the Shahed Soleimani class of ships. At 65 m. long it will apparently use anti-ship missiles and air defense.

In April, a satellite image from Planet Labs, also analyzed by Sutton, indicated that it included the third of Iran’s new catamarans designed for this class of ships. “This little-known shipyard near the Strait of Hormuz is linked to the IRGC and has been massively expanded,” he wrote.

This is not the first catamaran the Iranian Navy has put to sea. According to Thomas Newdick of The Drive, the US Navy released video of an IRGC ship called Shahid Nazeri harassing US ships in April. “The Shahid Nazeri is a larger catamaran type high speed model that appears to be armed with a 20mm. cannon and has a helipad on its aft deck, ”he noted. Commissioned in 2016, the vessel measures 55 m. long time and participated in an exercise with the Russian and Iranian navies. He is based in the town of Bandar Abbas, along the Persian Gulf.

Catamaran designs for warships are relatively rare. There are exceptions, such as the HSV-2 Swift which was previously leased from the US Navy and then leased to the United Arab Emirates. Under the flag of the United Arab Emirates, she was attacked by Iranian-backed Houthis in 2016. Another catamaran-style vessel is the US Sea Fighter FSF-1, an experimental coastal combat vessel.

The United States has a series of other larger LCS ships, twice the size of Iran’s new missile boat. Washington also experimented with the Sea Shadow stealth catamaran. Indonesia has built a futuristic-designed Klewang-class trimaran that measures 62 m. long. Turkey has also considered building a versatile trimaran.

The Iranian Navy also reviewed a trimaran design for coastal warfare in 2018. It must have been 100 m. long.

Detectives online found photos and images of the new Iranian catamaran as well as the shipyard which has been expanded to build several. It remains to be seen how they will be used. Given Iran’s interest in harassing US ships and expanding its influence on Yemen’s coasts, the ship could help Iran project its power into coastal and neighboring waters. Satellite images from early July appear to show Iran has launched at least one of these new ships.

The Iranian navy is widely regarded as underpowered and has suffered many accidents, including a recently burned and sunk ship. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has a large number of fast boats, some of which now operate drones.

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