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Iranian Navy introduces new Shahid Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis class of missile catamarans.

| Naval News Navy 2024

On January 6, 2023, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGC-N) of Iran commissioned the Shahid Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, the lead ship of a new class of missile catamarans. The event took place in Bandar Abbas, a southern port city in Iran, marking a significant addition to the IRGC Navy's capabilities with the introduction of this vessel and 100 fast missile boats armed with either torpedoes or surface-to-air missiles (SAMs).
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 The Shahid Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis class can be seen as a smaller variant of the Shahid Soleimani class missile catamarans, which are also part of the IRGC Navy. (Picture source: Mehr News)

The vessel is named after Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the former deputy head of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units, who was killed alongside General Qassem Soleimani of the IRGC Quds Force in a 2020 American strike in Baghdad. The Shahid Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis class can be seen as a smaller variant of the Shahid Soleimani class missile catamarans, which are also part of the IRGC Navy.

The ceremony was attended by senior military officials including IRGC Chief Commander Hossein Salami and Navy Commander Alireza Tangsiri. During the ceremony, it was stated that three Shahid Abu Mahdi vessels could potentially be delivered in under a year. However, it remains unclear whether this represents the official procurement plan or is simply a statement highlighting Iran's capability to achieve such a feat.

The Shahid Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, with the designation code PC313-01, is a 47-meter-long vessel reported to be able to operate at sea for up to 14 days and cover an operational radius of up to 2,000 nautical miles. This catamaran, which features a homegrown hull design, can reach speeds of up to 36 knots.

In terms of armaments, the Shahid Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis is equipped with a variety of weaponry, including six canisters for Iranian anti-ship cruise missiles like the Noor, Qadir, or Ghadir, a 30mm 2A42 cannon, four 20mm Gatling-type guns operating at 1500 rpm, and eight canisters that could house, depending on the sources, either Kowsar IR guided anti-ship missiles, or close-range surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), potentially enhancing its air defense. The 8 Kowsar/SAMs launchers on the ship seem to have the capability to rotate, facilitating alignment and missile locking.

There is some ambiguity regarding the potential designation of these SAMs, with some sources suggesting they may also be named Kowsar. These short-range multirole missiles, which would be different from the Kowsar anti-ship missile, are apparently designed to engage both surface targets and aerial threats, including drones and helicopters.

The Shahid Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis vessel seems to be equipped with an IIR/EO seeker for missile guidance, fire control radar, navigation radar, and a small helipad intended for VTOL UAVs like the Meraj-313. The design is said to include features intended to reduce radar signature and a high-aspect-ratio for operational flexibility. Therefore, these Shahid Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis vessels are well-suited for quick offensive operations near coastlines, while the Shahid Soleimani class provides more extensive seakeeping and defensive capabilities.

The introduction of the Shahid Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis signifies an expansion of the Iranian fleet, representing the third class of Iranian large catamaran type vessels. The simultaneous development of both the Shahid Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis and the Shahid Soleimani class vessels indicates Iran's approach to diversifying its naval capabilities. Each class is tailored to specific operational roles and tactical requirements, consolidating Iran's presence in the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, and Arabian Sea.

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