• A new Iranian warship was recently detected in the Persian Gulf near the Straits of Hormuz.
  • The ship is a surface effect ship (SES), which is designed to ride a curtain of air at high speed.
  • It’s very similar to ships fielded by North Korea. Iran and North Korea have shared military know-how in the past.

    Iran has built a new warship that might have North Korean DNA, like the ship above. The unnamed warship, designed to race across the surface of the ocean at high speed, could be the latest effort in a long history of military technology sharing between North Korea and Iran.

    Observers recently spotted the ship at the Shahid Darvishi shipyards near Iran’s port city of Bandar Abbas, Naval News reports. It’s not clear which of Iran’s two navies it belongs to; the main Islamic Republic of Iran Navy is responsible for the outer approaches to the Persian Gulf, while the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps paramilitary organization is responsible for defending the country’s interests inside the Gulf itself.

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    The ship is reportedly a surface effect ship (SES), which is similar to both a hovercraft and catamaran. Like a catamaran, the ship typically has two hulls constructed in a side-by-side arrangement. Like a hovercraft, an SES usually features rubber skirts at the front and rear of the ship to trap a pocket of air underneath. This allows for the SES to ride the pocket of air at high speeds and gives it a squared-off bow and stern and rectangular, boxy appearance from above.


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    There aren’t many details about Iran’s new SES, which Naval News points out is unusual. Iran tends to trumpet anything its small, relatively primitive shipping industry builds. (The country is currently under internationally observed arms import restrictions.)

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    One reason Iran might be keeping a low profile with this one: it appears to be awfully similar to North Korean surface effect ships. North Korea has at least three types of SES, including a particularly sharp-looking ship apparently designed to evade radar.

    Pyongyang’s ships include 14.5-millimeter Gatling guns, a copy of the Soviet AK-630 close-in weapon system similar to the American Phalanx, and copies of the Russian Kh-35 anti-ship cruise missile.

    North Korea and Iran are both pariah states to whom few, if any, countries want to sell weapons. This has drawn the birds of a feather to flock together, and the two countries have cooperated in the past on other weapon systems.

    Both parties have shared missile technology going back as far as the 1990s, and they rekindled the partnership during the Trump administration. The countries have also shared miniature submarine technology.


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