Iran’s IRGC claims new 'laser-guided' missiles, air defense for ships - analysis

Adding air defense to naval ships is a norm around the world. Iran is merely boasting it has added this capability to smaller ships. This is because Iran’s navy doesn’t have many large surface ships.

IRGC forces are seen in the 17th Great Prophet drill in Iran. (photo credit: TASNIM NEWS AGENCY)
IRGC forces are seen in the 17th Great Prophet drill in Iran.
(photo credit: TASNIM NEWS AGENCY)

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) naval arm claims that it has put “laser-guided missiles” and “air defense” on its fast attack boats. This comes after a series of recent claims by the IRGC about upgrading its navy.

The IRGC has its own naval ships while Iran has an official navy as well. The two compete for resources from the regime although the two also have different missions.

The IRGC Navy carries out the harassment of foreign navies and is also involved in developing new weapons while the regular navy has larger ships and conducts longer-range missions.

In recent years, the IRGC navy has sought to improve its fast attack boats, of which it has several types and hundreds of boats. Several days ago, Iran claims to have equipped two classes of its ships with long-range missiles. Now, reports at Tasnim News, which is pro-regime and close to the IRGC, has said that Iran has “fast vessels of the IRGC with laser-guided missiles and air defense.” The report says that a new generation of Tandoor vessels has also been equipped with anti-ship missiles.

Tasnim reported, “During this ceremony, new high-speed vessels were delivered to the IRGC Navy, which had a different design from the previous vessels and was equipped with laser-guided missiles instead of rockets.” The report also said that the anti-ship missiles, mentioned already last week, have been added to vessels and that the missiles have a range of up to 180 km.

IRGC siezes ship near Bu Musa Island, Iran (credit: Wikimedia Commons)IRGC siezes ship near Bu Musa Island, Iran (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

“In this ceremony, for the first time, the Zulfiqar high-speed boat with the ability to fire ‘Nawab’ air defense missiles was also delivered to this force, thus the IRGC became the first owner of high-speed boats with the ability to carry air defense missiles in the world,” the report claimed.

“The supply ship Shahid Mahdavi was also among the new vessels that were delivered to the IRGC Navy. With a length of 240 meters, this vessel can carry two Mi17 helicopters, various types of drones and high-speed vessels, and is also equipped with anti-ship cruise missiles,” it added.

The report is Iran's message to other naval powers in the region

The report is clearly a message to other naval powers in the region, seeking to project strength at sea.

Iran recently signed a deal with Saudi Arabia, which means that it is looking to showcase new capabilities. It is unclear how it will impact Iran’s backing of the Houthis in Yemen. However, a stronger IRGC Navy with air defense missiles and anti-ship missiles will clearly send a message that Iran is serious about its naval operations in the coastal areas and also the area of the Gulf of Oman.

Iran also likes to boast about capabilities that may not even exist. While Iran has shown the boats with what look like missile tubes, it’s not entirely clear how one would operate the missiles in a choppy sea, or how the missiles would be guided or where the radar and other technology needed for air defense would be incorporated into this new capability.