Surface Forces: Iran Clones a British Corvette


April 24, 2007: Iran announced that it is building a destroyer, and will soon launch it. No further details were given. It is known that Iran has launched a clone of their British made Vosper Mk 5 frigates in 2002. The 1,500 ton ship has been fitting out ever since. Four Vospers were delivered in the early 1970s, and at least three are still in service. Actually, these are considered "corvette" type ships, but the Iranians have a tendency to exaggerate.

The Iranian navy could certainly use a new warship. Currently, the only major warships it has are three elderly British built frigates (1,540 tons each), and two U.S. built corvettes (1,100 tons each). There are about fifty smaller patrol craft, ten of them armed with Chinese anti-ship missiles. There are another few dozen mine warfare, amphibious and support ships. The three most powerful ships in the fleet are Russian Kilo class subs. There are several older North Korean mini-subs as well, some of them built in Iran.

All that's been heard of from Iran's naval shipbuilding facility at the Bushehr shipyard, are labor problems. There have been strikes and lockouts of late. Iran has, for the last two decades, announced many new, Iranian made, weapons, that turned out to be more spin than substance. Iran does have commercial shipbuilding firms, that produce merchant ships that are larger than destroyers. Thus Iran could build something that looks like a destroyer, and they may indeed have a larger (than 1,500 tons) warship under construction. Filling this warship with adequate equipment and weapons is another matter, and that's probably why it's taken so long to equip their Vosper clone. The new corvette will probably have Chinese C802 anti-ship missiles, but a lot of the other necessary military electronics are harder to get.


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