The Iranian naval forces today tested its new medium-range cruise missile during a two-day drill underway in the Sea of Oman, the Iranian media reported. According to Iranian officials, two Qadir cruise missiles, with a range of 300 kilometers, successfully destroyed simulated naval targets. The missile reportedly can be fired from launchers from coasts or naval vessels. On the second day of the military drill, codenamed Mohammad Rasoulollah, Navy’s helicopters also conducted combined sonic and magnetic demining operations. Different vessels, including submarines and reconnaissance planes were also used in the exercises. On Monday, Iranian navy officials said they warned off two US-led coalition warships in the region as they were coming near the zone of the Iranian wargames.
Comment: The Islamic Republic has in recent years made it a priority to develop its naval capabilities, although its leaders often exaggerate the country’s progress in building advanced naval assets and expanding its naval forces’ presence in international waters.
Iran’s Navy Commander Habibollah Sayyari had said recently that the country’s naval forces would unveil its new domestically-built naval assets and will also extend their area and scope of operations beyond the Persian Gulf region. According to Sayyari, the Navy’s new equipment includes surface and subsurface vessels units and a new missile-launching warship. The Iranian Navy commander also revealed that his forces would stage drills in the country’s southeastern Makran coast in the near future. Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami also said last year that a new homegrown military submarine Fateh (Conqueror) is going through final tests and will soon join the Iranian naval forces. In addition, Sayyari unveiled his plan to dispatch naval fleets to the west of the Atlantic Ocean.
Last year, a new report by the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence warned that Iran would be able to purchase warships, submarines and advanced missiles to further boost its naval power after 2020, when the U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231 prohibiting Iran from acquiring advanced offensive weaponry is set to expire. “Over the next five years, new weapons will likely include submarine-launched ASCMs, the Hoot supercavitating torpedo, and potentially a supersonic ASCM, which Iran claims is in development. After 2020, Iran may look to foreign acquisitions of ships and submarines with a wide array of weapons suites,” the 42-page study said. The U.S. Navy report suggests three key factors – the status of the Iran nuclear agreement, the price of oil and leadership changes in Tehran – will determine Iran’s naval strategy and acquisitions in the future.
Iran’s naval expansion has caused concern among regional states. In late 2016, the Iranian chief of staff of the armed forces, Major General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, sent shockwaves through the region by calling for Iranian naval bases in Yemen and Syria.