TEHRAN -- Iranian naval forces intervened on Saturday to repel pirates who attacked an Iranian oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden, the national broadcaster IRIB said on its website
Pirates in five speedboats attacked the unidentified tanker, but they fled after facing heavy fire from Iran’s navy, IRIB said.
Iran’s navy has extended its reach in recent years, dispatching vessels to the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden to protect Iranian ships from Somali pirate attacks.
Meanwhile, Chief Commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General Hussein Salami said the naval units of his force will be armed with cruise missiles with an operational range of up to 2,000 kilometers, capable of targeting moving vessels in the near future.
During a Friday visit to IRGC naval units based in the Persian Gulf islands and the Strait of Hormuz, General Salami hailed the IRGC navy’s defensive and offensive capabilities, especially in the field of navigation. The force, he said, has made a great achievement by increasing the speed of its speedboats to nearly one hundred knots per hour.
He said the IRGC navy has made considerable progress in development and manufacture of unmanned aerial vehicles, and now possesses hundreds of reconnaissance, surveillance, combat and kamikaze drones with different operational ranges of up to 1,200 kilometers (745 miles).
The IRGC navy force, he said, will continue to increase the range of its drones.
The IRGC navy also currently has missiles with various ranges of 35, 90, 300 and 700 kilometers in its inventory.
“In the near future, the naval force will be armed with cruise missiles with a range of 2,000 kilometers, capable of targeting
moving vessels,” the IRGC chief said.
General Salami went on to say that the IRGC navy has developed various signal collection systems, jammers and electronic warfare systems, and that the hardware has expanded both defensive and offensive capabilities of the force.
Commander of the Valiasr Drone Unit of the Army, Brigadier General Shahram Hassannejad, also praised the homegrown technology of Iranian drones, stating that such a feature has eased their design, production, application and overhaul.
He told IRNA in an interview published on Saturday that the capabilities of Iran’s unmanned aircraft have improved tremendously in recent years, and that they are now equipped with state-of-the-art technology and enjoy sophisticated combat tactics.
“What makes Iranian drones a game changer in the region and the world is their indigenousness. It means we have utilized completely homegrown technology in their production, use and overhaul. We are not dependent on any country in terms of drone production, and can simply replace them,” he said.
He added, “Iranian drones have also been designed and built in accordance with climate and strategic characteristics of their operational zones. Iran has different weather conditions, and our drones can perform their missions over seas, mountains and desert areas.”
General Hassannejad also said the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) has acknowledged the aerial superiority of Iran in the region due to its large fleet of combat drones.
Iranian military experts and technicians have in recent years made great progress in developing and manufacturing a broad range of domestically-manufactured equipment, making the armed forces self-sufficient in this regard.
Iranian officials have repeatedly underscored that the Islamic Republic will not hesitate to build up its defense capabilities, emphasizing such abilities are entirely meant for the purpose of defense and will be never subject to negotiations.