Reports based on satellite imagery say Iran is in the process of constructing a new Shahid Soleimani class missile corvette along with another unspecified vessel at its Qeshm Madkandaloo Shipbuilding Cooperative Co. shipyard located on the island of Qeshm.
A report by defense analyst HI Sutton in Covert Shores based on an analysis of OSNIT, says that while the under-construction Shahid Soleimani class vessel would be the fourth hull of the class, a new ship — the first of another class — also appears to have been launched at the shipyard.
While the missile corvette vessel is said to be the most potent and modern of the Iranian navy’s warships, Sutton reported on the new class of vessel in June which also appeared to have a stealth-influenced design, but was noticeably smaller than the Shahid Soleimani class.
Apart from several short and long-range anti-ship missiles, the Shahid Soleimani class of vessels can reportedly carry three fast boats in a hangar under the helicopter deck. These may include interceptor boats and torpedo-armed RIBs (rigid inflatable boats) as well as crewed or uncrewed explosive boats, Sutton said in his report.
The country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) had on Sept. 5 officially taken delivery of the first Shahid Soleimani class of vessel which Iran started building at different shipyards in mid-2020, according to a report by Janes.
The ship was described as a patrol-combat vessel with a design that reduces its radar cross-section while improving maneuverability. This enables it to operate in adverse weather conditions when compared to other ships of the same size that operate far from its bases — a capability the Iranian navy has lacked.
According to the latest report by Sutton, the design of the Shahid Soleimani class, with a length of approximately 65 m, includes two types of VLS (vertical launch system) behind the bridge.
While its six larger cells could be used to launch medium-range air defense missiles, the 4×4 smaller ones could be used to launch short-range air-defense missiles based on the Russian SA-15 Tor system.
Heavily armed and fitted with radar, the vessel is said to be the best-defended warship in Iranian service, including the regular navy.
Meanwhile, Sutton pointed out that when compared to the Shahid Soleimani class of vessels, the new vessel appears to lack a helipad, but also noted that it is difficult to assess the final fit.
While two cut-outs in the after deck – at the rear of the boat, indicate pop-up missile tubes which will likely be used for 4-8 Noor or Qader anti-ship missiles that are roughly equivalent to the famous Harpoon and Neptune-type missiles.
Driven by its geostrategic concerns, Iran is actively engaged in modernizing its naval force which is considered to be its smallest force. While the country’s military and nuclear program have rapidly advanced in recent years, experts point out that the country’s navy has not undergone modernization for decades.