By Patrick Frye Posted: November 12, 2012
The Iran hovercraft was revealed today by Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi. The Iran hovercraft is an air defense system that serves as a mobile platform to launch surface-to-air missiles and drones. The amphibious craft uses a cushion of air to glide over both land and sea.
The two Iran hovercraft designs are dubbed the Tondar and Thunderbolt. Based upon 3 News, General Vahidi says the Iran hovercrafts can be used for “offensive reconnaissance operations [and] midrange amphibious missions […] for islands and coastal areas.” In addition, on MSN we find that “Tondar can be equipped with rockets, guns and unmanned aerial vehicles, while Thunderbolt can be used for coastal patrolling, reconnaissance operations and mid-range amphibious missions and transporting equipment.”
Iran has been working hard since 1992 to build a self-sufficient military program that does not rely on outside help, like with the Russian-made S-200 air defense system, or on military defense contractors. Iran has been manufacturing its own tanks, armored personnel carriers, missiles, radars, boats, submarines, and fighter jets. In interviews with Iran’s military leaders they have said they believe future wars will be fought primarily on the air and sea. Which brings us the Iran hovercraft.
Iran is desperate to increase its naval power to gain control of the Strait of Hormuz, the narrowest portion of the Persian Gulf. Last week Iranian military jets fired on an unarmed U.S. military Predator surveillance drone.
Iran claims the U.S drone entered the territorial waters of Iran and that it was spying on oil tankers. Contradicting this claim, the Pentagon says the attack occurred 16 nautical miles from Iran shores. Based upon the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, territorial waters only extend 12 nautical miles. Thus, unless Iran provides evidence the US military is lying then their claim appears to be false.
A new air defense system modeled after the U.S. Hawk will also be tested in Iran’s 8,000 troop war games commencing this week. The surface-to-air system has been named “Mersad,” or Ambush. According to 3 News ”[t]he system is capable of locking a flying object at a distance of 80 kilometers and can hit from 45 kilometers away, using an Iranian-made missile dubbed Shahin, or Hawk.”