Due to the international sanctions, Iran’s military industry is struggling to develop on its own. In the past two days, Iran has revealed for the first time the mystery of a new generation of catamaran missile boats developed for the country’s Revolutionary Guard Navy. This missile boat has been closely watched by international media.
On 5th September, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Navy released the video clip of the new catamaran missile patrol boat named “Suleimani Martyr” and hull number FS-313-01 for the first time in Abbas, the main port in southern Iran. It is named after Soleimani, the Brigade Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ “Quds Brigade”, who was assassinated by a CIA drone near Baghdad Airport in Iraq in 2020. His death caused the US-Iran relationship to deteriorate sharply and he was regarded by Iran as a national hero.
In March last year, the website of the United States Naval Institute USNI reported that Iran was building a catamaran wave-piercing missile boat. It was being built at the Abbas Naval Shipyard at the time, but the specific configuration and launching of news has been strictly kept secret by Iran until now. Although it is a missile boat, it is Iran’s most powerful surface combat ship except for the 1400-ton “Wave” class corvettes built in recent years. Now, the “Wave” class is designated as a destroyer by the Iranian Navy.
The Revolutionary Guard Navy is another national-level maritime armed force in Iran. The “Suleimani Martyr” unveiled this time is the largest and strongest warship they have. Previously, they mainly used a large number of armed boats or small missile boats. Judging from the previous remote sensing photos of US satellites, this missile boat is 65 meters long and also has a helicopter take-off and landing platform. The new boat has a tonnage of 600 tons. The high-speed performance brought by the wave-piercing catamaran is also very impressive, and the speed may be above 30 knots.
Therefore, this ship is equipped with powerful firepower. Judging from the screenshots of the publicly released video, in addition to one 30mm cannon and two 12.7mm heavy machine guns on the bow of the boat, there are a total of six anti-ship missile launch boxes on both sides of its bridge cab, and they are two types. Missiles of different sizes, the 4 larger ones are the anti-ship missiles with range of 300 kilometers, the boat has two other short-range anti-ship missiles with the range of 90km.
Something which is more unique is that this ship is also equipped with vertical launch system. The design and development of shipborne VLS is actually very difficult. There are only few countries in the world which has the capability to built them. At the rear of the bridge of this ship are two different types of VLS of different sizes. The larger ones has 4 missiles, while the medium sized has 6 missiles, so in total the boat has 10 SAMs.
Iranian media has confirmed that the ship is equipped with short-range and medium-range ship-to-air missiles. These VLS uses cold launch method. At present, it is not clear what kind of ship-to-air missiles this new missile boat is equipped with. Previously, the “Wave” class frigate of the Iranian Navy was equipped with the “Mehrab” ship-to-air missile mounted in a vertical launch box. It is a ship-based version of the “Hunter-2” surface-to-air missile. Iran’s absorption and imitation of US-made standard SM-1 and Russian-made “Buk” surface-to-air missiles are currently Iran’s most mature medium-range semi-active radar-guided surface-to-air missiles.
However, there is no complex long-range sea-to-air search radar on this new ship, and there is no ship-to-air missile guidance radar. With Iran’s radar technology, I think that they are unable to develop a ship-to-air missile active radar terminal guidance system. In fact, the integration of complex medium-range and long-range ship-to-air missiles on warships is extremely important to a country’s shipbuilding, radar, electronics and aerospace industries.
Although this warship has a good appearance and fierce firepower, there are also many unsolved mysteries. This new ship is also a milestone attempt for Iran, which is trying to become self-reliant in the field of naval Shipbuilding.