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Iranian Military Forces

Updated on February 26, 2009

Iran's Military Forces within the area of the Straits of Hormuz pose a threat to USN ships escorting the world's oil tankers through these narrow waters, which do cross into Iran's territoral waters. Should an incident ever occur, it would involve some of the weapons listed below.

Tir Class Fast Attack Craft (Torpedo)

Quantity in Service: 10
Speed: 52kt
Powerplant: 3 x 1200hp
Armament: 2 x 533mm (21”) torpedo tubes, 1 x manned 12.7mm HMG
This is a North Korean design, these innovative small fast attack boats are clearly designed to evade radar detection. A retractable radar mast further enhances their ability to hide.  The only defensive weapon a single pedestal mounted 12.7mm heavy machine gun.
In the right circumstances, these boats represent a serious threat. They are may be armed with Shkval rocket torpedo (range about 6-8km), or the Iranian YT534W1 modern heavyweight torpedo (estimated range about 20-30km). 

“Peykaap” Fast Attack Craft (Torpedo)

Quantity in Service: 10
Crew: 3
Speed: 52kt
Armament: 2 x 12.75” torpedo tubes, small-arms from North Korea.
The Paykaap is smaller to the Tir class because it has similar origin and overall characteristics but is smaller and lighter armed. 
The torpedo tubes are mounted on either side of the cabin in a stealthy manner. The slight bulge on top of the torpedo tubes is probably the compressed air cylinder used to eject the torpedo from the tube, and its position makes it very possible that the torpedo tubes are exactly the same as those on the Taedong-B.
The small size, high speed and low radar signature make this type a potent adversary, but it lacks any self-defense weaponry.  Its lightweight torpedoes are inadequate to sink most warships.

Semi-submersible Fast Attack Craft
Quantity in service: 3-10
1 x Taedong-B “Kajami”
2 x Taedong-C “Gahjae”

Iran is reported to operate a small number of North Korean designed Taedong-B and Taedong-C semi-submersible attack craft delivered in 2002. At least one such boat, thought to be a Taedong-B “Kajami”, has been publicly displayed during wargames. Both types are believed to be equipped with lightweight 324mm (12.75”) torpedoes. Typical torpedoes in this size class have a range of between 6km and 10km. The attack profiles of these boats is to lay in wait partially submerged and then attack at high speed on the surface, or vice versa, to approach at high speed then submerge for the final stage of the attack. The boats can probably dive to about 9ft. depth using a snort mast which remains on/near the surface. The vessel is probably capable of about 40kts on the surface and about 10kts submerged.


It is reported that the Taedong-C class closely resembles the Peykaap class torpedo boat. 
The lightweight torpedoes are unlikely to sink any warship although a successful attack could immobilize even a large warship.

“China Cat” Fast Attack Craft (Missile)

Quantity in Service: 10 +
Crew: 10
Speed: 55kt
Powerplant: 2 x 1150hp
Armament: 4 x TL-10 or C-701 Kowsar light anti-ship missiles, 1 x manned cannon.
Ten C-14 missile armed catamarans were ordered from the Chinese manufacturer in 2002, with local production.
The C-701 missile is of Chinese origin though manufactured under license in Iran. It has a 20-25km range and can be TV or Radar guided, making it ideal for littoral combat.
Many reports indicate that the China Cat may employ the Chinese supplied TL-10 anti-ship missile instead of the C-701 described. Both come with a range of seekers and minor sub-versions tailored to specific customer needs.
The boats pack an enormous punch for their size and have apparently superb sea keeping for their size.

The danger posed is that they are fast and highly maneuverable with ASMs that would be hard for ship defenses to target in substantial numbers. 

SINA Class Missile Boat

Quantity: 2 (plus 1 building)
Crew: 31
Speed: 35kt
Armament: 4 x C-802 “Noor” anti-ship missiles, 1 x 76mm Gun, 1 40mm AAA (crewed), 2 x 12.7mm HMG (crewed)
The first SINA class boat, Peykan, became operational in 2006 followed by a second unit, Joshan. The 76mm is a locally produced version of the OTO-Melara 76mm gun fitted to the Kamans.

Kaman Class Missile Boat

Quantity in service: 6 -10
Crew: 31
Speed: 36kt
Powerplant: 4 x 3,500hp diesels
Armament: 4 x C-802 “Noor” anti-ship missiles, 1 x 76mm Gun, 1 40mm AAA (crewed), 2 x 12.7mm HMG (crewed).
Delivered from France and previously equipped with US Harpoon missiles, these boats were re-armed with the Chinese C-802 missile in the late 1990s.

Thondar Class Missile Boat

Quantity in service: 10
Crew: 28
Speed: 35kt

Armament: 4 x C-802 “Noor” anti-ship missiles, 1 x twin 30mm AAA, 1 x twin 23mm AAA (crewed)
Often referred to by their Chinese name, Houdong class, these boats were delivered from China in the mid 1990s, and are operated by the IRGC-N.

The missile boats are fast and may pose a threat to lone USN warships escorting oil tankers through the Starits of Hormuz.

Ghadir Class Midget Submarine

Quantity in Service: 3
Speed : 11kts surfaced, 8kts submerged
Powerplant: Diesel-electric
Armament: 2 x 533mm (21”) torpedo tubes with 2~4 torpedoes, Skhval rocket torpedoes or 4~8 mines. Probably of North Korean design, the Ghadir submarine closely resembles the North Korean “Yugo Class”.These boats are well suited to mine laying, infiltration/Special Forces operation and limited anti-surface warfare. Their torpedo tubes could carry the deadly Shkval rocket torpedo . Because they are conventional and nothing that special, subject to USN ASW easily.

Nahong Class midget submarine

Quantity in service: 1
A small midget submarine suited to mine laying and special operations with possible limited anti-ship strike capability. Armament is likely to consist of mines carried externally.
The mines could be the lethal Chinese designed EM52 fast rising rocket mine which can be laid in deep water, attacking its target by firing a rocket up into the underbelly of the ship at sonic speed. While, the EM52’s rocket is unguided, it does offer Iran a serious threat to enemy shipping.

Small craft, often based on civilian speed boats. Lightly armed.

Quantity: 20-30
Crew: 3
Speed: 25kt+
Powerplant: 2 x 1260hp
Armament: Typically 1 x 12.7mm HMG and 1x12 107mm rocket launcher (MRLS).
These are locally produced small boats adapted for warfare, often being labeled as “Boghammars”. The military/paramilitary version is typically equipped with a 107mm MRLS, Haseb, based on the Chinese Type 73. 
It has an effective range of 8.5km and has a HE-Fragmentation warheads. . A 12 round salvo is fired in 8 seconds. While not a threat to USN ships, if their numbers are increasing and if some carry large explosive charges in their hulls for suicide runs, it could be a real issue as when used with "swarm" tactics.

C-802 Chinese Missile

Range: 120-180km
Maximum number of missiles per launch vehicle: 3
Vehicle: Truck
Iran deploys C-802s using a Chinese designed truck launcher with up to three missile boxes.  The C-802 family is the most potent of Iran’s anti-ship missiles and they have good anti-jamming capabilities and high hit probability.
A third party targeting adjustment is required to hit targets over 40 miles away.

 Refers to several short ranged anti-ship missile types of Chinese origin that Iran is producing. Clearly Iran is producing versions of both the C-701 and TL-10 families of missiles. Both types come in both TV and Radar seeker versions.
Both have similar capabilities of the C-701 but is longer ranged and its radar version, unlike the TL-10 radar version, can accept post-launch re-targeting.
The TL-10 is thought to be employed on the China Cat missile boats and the C-701 has been as a shore battery system.

RAAD, Iranian Designed

Range: 360km
Maximum number of missiles per launch vehicle: 1
Vehicle: Tracked
Developed from the HY-2 “Silkworm”, the Ra’ad (Thunder) is Iran’s first anti-ship missile. 
It is launched from a HY-2 launcher.

Silkworm HY-2

Range: 95km
Maximum number of missiles per launch launcher: 1
Vehicle: Truck or trailer
An old missile supplied by China and subsequently locally produce, the HY-2 is still in widespread service with the IRCG.  The HY-2 is relatively slow and high flying making it easier to see and shoot down.

Over 60 Chinese C-802 ASMs are located on Qesham Island and at Sughra, both very close to the world's oil shipping lanes. Some 24 Russian designed TOR M1 Missile and radar units, Russian S-300 missiles are located on the mainland close to the Straits.The Iranian airforce in the immediate area seems to be 12 Su-30, 24 Su-24, 40 Su-22 aircraft. All recently purchased from Russia. An additional 60 Silkworm missiles, 75 C-801 missles are also at various locations within striking distance of the shipping lanes from the Iranian coastline.

 Any strike conducted by Iran upon USN ships would be an act of war. It would only take 10 missiles to be fired at the same ship to overwhelm its defenses and abilities. The ship would be able to deflect, at most, 6-7 of the incoming missiles, leaving at least 1-3 to impact. Depending on the size of the ship, it very well may sink it. Iran does not need a huge navy. Its strength are in its antiship missiles and using them in a "swarm" fashion to overload defenses, which would occur.

Such an attack would sent oil prices skyrocketing, send the world into a tailspin as the problem remains how to respond, and of course, how Iran would respond to the West's response. With Iran having a nuclear capability, the whole question then becomes much more complicated and restrained.


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    • profile image


      8 years ago

      HOw do you know iran has s-300's. don't they say russia won't supply it to them or maybe its the hq-9 from china.

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago

      we are finally clearing! should be a nice day finally! Time get out and do some serious running, where are you?

    • Direxmd profile image


      11 years ago

      Another great article perrya!

      oh by the way, Santa Rosa is my home town :)

      how is it over there right now?


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