Iran starts producing missile-launching assault boats

The boats will be deployed around the key Strait of Hormuz shipping route.

Updated: Aug 23, 2010, 15:03 PM IST

Tehran: Iran said on Monday it has started mass production of two high-speed missile-launching assault boats for deployment along its coastline and around the key Strait of Hormuz shipping route.

The inauguration of the production lines for the Seraj and Zolfaqar speedboats comes a day after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unveiled Iran`s home-built bomber drone, which he said would deliver "death" to Iran`s enemies.

State news agency IRNA reported that Seraj (Lamp) and Zolfaqar (named after Shi’ite Imam Ali`s sword) would be manufactured at the marine industries complex of the Ministry of Defence.

Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi opened the assembly lines, saying the vessels would help strengthen Iran`s defence forces, IRNA said.

"Today, the Islamic Republic of Iran is relying on a great defence industry and the powerful forces of Sepah (Revolutionary Guards) and the army, with their utmost strength, can provide security to the Persian Gulf, the Sea of Oman and Strait of Hormuz," Vahidi said.

IRNA said Zolfaqar was a new generation missile-launching vessel which can be used for patrol as well as for attack operations.

"It is designed for quick assaults on ships and is equipped with two missile launchers, two machine guns and a computer system to control the missiles," the report said.

Fars news agency cited Vahidi as saying that Zolfaqar was to be equipped with the Nasr 1 (Victory) marine cruise missile "which has high destructive power”.

Iran has previously said that the Nasr missile can destroy targets weighing up to 3,000 tonnes.

IRNA said Seraj, designed for a tropical climate, was also a swift assault vessel for use in the Caspian sea, the Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, adding that it can fire rockets and also be used in stormy seas.

"Seraj is a fast moving assault rocket launcher using sophisticated and modern technology," Vahidi was cited as saying by IRNA.

The launch of the production lines comes as Iran marks its annual "government week", a period when it traditionally shows off its latest technological achievements.

Ahmadinejad on Sunday unveiled a bomber drone with a range of up to 1,000 kilometres (620 miles), which he dubbed the "ambassador of death."

State media said the drone, Karar (Assailant), can carry four stealth cruise missiles, two bombs of 250 pounds (115 kilos) each or a precision missile of 500 pounds (230 kilos).

Tehran kicked off its week of military claims on Friday when it fired a surface-to-surface missile, named Qiam (Rising), with some more announcements expected over the next few days.

The Islamic republic is also expected to test fire a third generation Fateh (Conqueror) 110 missile, after having already paraded a version with a range of 150 to 200 kilometres (90 to 125 miles).

Iran recently took delivery of four domestically built Ghadir mini-submarines, a "stealth" vessel designed to operate in shallow waters such as the Gulf.

The latest military moves coincide with Iranian warnings against any attack on its territory.

Its arch-foes, the United States and Israel, have not ruled out taking military action over Tehran`s controversial nuclear programme.

Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, choking off some 40 percent of tanker-shipped oil worldwide, in the event of a military attack.

Bureau Report