After laying hands on the record-breaking 61.5 mph speedboat, built for a British sporting adventurer, the Iranian navy plans to arm it with the reputedly fastest torpedo in the world, the Russian-designed Shkval (Squall), which moves at speeds of 360 kph. debkafile's military sources report Tehran is aiming for a seaborne weapon able to sink a US carrier in the Persian Gulf.
Blogs tracking the international weapons trade and the Financial Times reported Monday, April 5, that after purchasing the Bladerunner 51 powerboat from a Florida boatyard in 2005, the British sailor Neil McGrigor smashed the Italian-held record for the fastest circumnavigation of Britain in 27 hours 10 minutes.
Advertised for sale next year, the British government blocked it its purchase by Iran, which finally managed to purchase it under cover through South African agents in the face of an international embargo.
In Jan 2009, US special forces stood ready to intercept the Iranian merchant vessel carrying it to the Revolutionary Guards headquarters in Bandar Abbas, but the operation was called off for some unknown reason.
The deputy commander of the IRGC, Gen. Ali Fadavi has boasted that no warship can escape from the Shkval torpedo whose speed makes it almost impossible for radar to pick up. This claim has not been tested, but the US Persian Gulf naval command is concerned that the Iranians are outfitting the former Bladerunner 51 to lead the Guards navy's fleet of fast boats in attacks on the big American warships and aircraft carriers deployed in these waters.
It is feared that big warships may prove vulnerable to "swarming tactics by small boats," a hypothesis never yet demonstrated in practice. US naval experts stress that in recent US naval exercises in the Persian Gulf, small boats, however fast, trying to attack large warships, were beaten down and destroyed by the helicopters mounted on the ships' decks. They stressed that the powerboats were no match for military helicopters.
At the same time, these experts admit that a surprise hit-and-run operation by an armed powerboat able to approach a warship undetected could be extremely damaging.
As one American source pointed out, although the US failure to keep Iran from laying hands on the record-breaking vessel, of which only two have been built, despite a four-year head start, bodes ill for the sanctions Washington is working so hard to get implemented against Iran. Tehran outwitted the world in the case of Bladerunner 51 and runs rings around the world powers and the last three rounds of international sanctions.
Monday, The Wall Street Journal revealed the entire extent of the US freeze on Iranian assets as no more than $43 m, which is roughly a quarter of Iran's per day oil revenue, scarcely a bump on the road of Tehran's advance towards a nuclear weapon capacity.
The penalties the Obama administration is considering for the next round of sanctions rest heavily on the same old assets freeze rather than measures that really bite.
While US intelligence and the Vienna-based nuclear watchdog claim Iran has encountered problems in running the centrifuges for enriching uranium, Tehran was revealed two days ago as beating former sanctions by cunningly acquiring French-made valves and vacuum gauges for uranium enrichment through a phony Chinese firm.
An unregistered Iranian firm, Javedan Mehr Toos, made the illegal purchase through the unregistered Chinese-based Zheijiang Ouhai Trade Corp from the French maker KD Valves-Descote, which was formerly owned by the US conglomerate Tyco International.