posted on Jul, 5 2006 @ 05:12 PM
Part 1: Naval anti-surface warfare capability, actual and near future
This is a follow-up to my Google-Earth research on the Iranian Military and Total Firepower Rating (Anti-ship missiles) research. I’ve done a fair
bit of digging about Iranian naval power and found that most revered sources, like Global Security, are quite vague and that the online military
watchers don’t provide anything like as much info as they do on many other countries. The good side to this is that my info is pretty fresh, the
down side is that much of it is speculation.
1. - Major surface combatants
Iran seems to have retired all its old destroyers and large patrol ships. The main surface combatants are the remaining Alvand (Saam) Class corvettes
and a new corvette seems to be under construction.
1.1 – Alvand Class corvettes
Illustration by me
Number in service: 3
Displacement: 1,200 tons
Armament (anti-ship missiles): 4 x C-802 anti-ship missiles, 1 x 114mm Gun
Armament (air defense): Poor. 1 x twin 20mm AAA, 2 x single 20mm AAA. Possibly shoulder launched SAMs.
Armament (other): 2 x 81mm mortars, 2 x 0.50cal machine guns, 1 x Limbo ASW mortar, 2x triple 12.75” torpedo tubes.
Recent Google-Earth images confirm that three of these are still in use although serviceability is unclear. All three have been modernized with four
Chinese C-802 (YJ-82) anti-ship missiles which have a maximum range of about 120km and replaces the obsolete Sea Killer missiles originally fitted.
The SeaCat SAM launcher seems to have been removed but at least one still has the Limbo anti-submarine mortar. There are no apparent changes in radar
fit which raises questions about the C-802’s efficiency.
These vessels lack any credible air-defenses and would be particularly vulnerable to air-strike as was demonstrated when one of this class was sunk by
the US in 1988 and another severely damaged.
1.2 – Mowaj
Sometimes spelt Mowj, though often described as a “destroyer” in the press, this seems to be a corvette based on the Alvand class (see above).
Reports in the press, mostly several years old, talk of how Iran is building a new destroyer class called Mowaj. A credible source, Tel Aviv
university, says that a single Mowaj class corvette, of about 1,200 tons (basically the same as the Alvand) is under construction at Bandar Abbas.
This ties in with Google-Earth satellite imagery which clearly shows a part-finished warship moored beside the three Alvand class corvettes:
The satellite image may be several years old but it seems reasonable to assume that the Mowaj has not been fitted out with weapons quite yet else it
would have been paraded in front of the national press as yet another great achievement of the Iranian military.
The current frosty relations with Britain rules out a weapons fit similar to that of the British supplied Alvand class corvettes it’s based on. The
weapons fit is likely to come either from China or Russia and is likely to have been contracted several years ago.
Possible weapons fits, China:
The Chinese supplied C-802 anti-ship missile is pretty standard throughout the Iranian navy but has been superceded in Chinese service by the improved
C-803 (YJ-83) which has a widely quoted range of up to 200km, significantly further than ship-launched Harpoon. Another Chinese missile now entering
service is the C-602 (YJ-62) which is much bigger with a 300kg warhead and 280km range. The YJ-62 is more akin to the Tomahawk than the Harpoon and
also comes in land-attack versions.
China would also supply an air-defenses; the HQ-7, based on the French Crotale system, is already in service with the Iranians in its land-based form
and seems a natural choice. The LY-6 SAM system, based on the Italian Aspide, has recently been exported to Pakistan so must also be considered in the
running. The Mowaj is too small to carry the much more advanced HQ-9 area air defense missile system which is based on the Russian S-300 (SA-10).
Close in defense would be in the form of either the older twin 37mm gun turrets, or the much more advanced type-730 CIWS which is analogous to the
The Chinese weapons fit would be topped off with a 100mm compact main gun of French design origin.
Possible weapons fits, Russia:
Iran is not thought to have any Russian supplied anti-ship missiles currently in service. The likely candidate would be the SS-N-25 Swtichblade
missile which has a 130km range and is generally equivalent to the US Harpoon. Much more dangerous is the supersonic SS-N-26 “Yakhont” anti-ship
missile which has a range of 300km and an impact speed of about Mach 2.5 making it very hard to shoot down.
The Mowaj doesn’t seem to have space for the infamous SS-N-22 Sunburn (“Moskit”) supersonic anti-ship missile and the SS-N-27 “Klub” cruise
missile, with its potent 220km range and land-attack potential, normally has vertical launch silos which are not apparent on the satellite view.
The Russians have already sold Iran the SA-15 “Tor” air-defense system so this seems a natural choice for the Mowaj. The Tor is highly regarded
and has a potent anti-missile capability. It is launched from shallow vertical launch bins which could easily be added to the Mowaj’s decks. Another
SAM option is the SA-19 Grisom which on naval vessels is normally part of the Kashtan combined gun/missile CIWS – probably the best CIWS in the
world. A longer ranged option is the SA-17 Grizzly missile system.
The Russian weapons fit would be finished with an AK-176 (76mm) or AK-100 (100mm) main gun.
Illustration by me
Anti-ship missile systems ranges compared:
2. – Fast attack craft
The Iranian navy places a great emphasis on fast attack craft (FACs), both missile boats and torpedo boats. The majority of the missile boats are
imported Chinese designs although a significant number of pre-revolution European boats remain in service. There are reports of an indigenous missile
boat building program referred to as Sina. What is easier to evidence is the indigenous torpedo boat program.
2.1 – Thondor Class FACs
Number in service: 10
Armament (anti-ship): 4 x C-802 (YJ-82) missiles
Armament (other): Twin 30mm AAA, Twin 23mm AAA
Of Chinese design, these craft are typical of missile boats worldwide. The C-802 missile is similar to the Exocet but significantly greater ranged due
to its turbojet engine. The AAA does not amount to a CIWS in the popular sense and the 23mm cannon, added behind the bridge, appears to be unguided
and may be a local modification. Google-Earth and press photos suggests that many of these vessels only routinely carry two missile tubes.
2.2 – “China Cat” FACs
Number in service: 6 ~ 10
Armament (anti-ship): 6 ~ 8 C-701 short range missiles
Armament (other): Machine guns or light cannon, manually aimed.
The class name for these boats remains unknown. Although they are widely credited with carrying C-701 anti-ship missiles recent photographs of them in
service show a conspicuous absence of these missiles and fire control radars. The C-701 is a comparatively short ranged anti-ship missile designed for
littoral combat. Iran also operates a shore based variant (see below) and is reported to be building these missiles under license. The C-701 has a
maximum range of about 20km putting it in a similar category to the Br
[edit on 5-7-2006 by planeman]