Friday, October 1, 2010

Iran's elite Guards get 'flying boats'

Sep 30, 2010

Stealth craft boost military capability amid UN sanctions

TEHERAN: Iran has begun supplying squadrons of radar-evading 'flying boats' to its elite Revolutionary Guards, as the country seeks to boost its military capability in the face of threats.

Three squadrons of the 'Bavar 2' or Confidence 2 - a single-pilot seaplane made in Iran - have already been delivered to the Guards' navy, Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi said in a report by Fars news agency on Tuesday.

'The flying boat is equipped with a machine gun as well as night-vision and daytime cameras, and is capable of capturing and transmitting images and data,' he was quoted as saying.

A flying boat is a seaplane with a hull that allows it to land and travel on water.

Footage of about a dozen of the small, insect-like aircraft floating on waters allegedly off the Gulf port of Bandar Abbas was broadcast on Iran's English-language Press TV on Tuesday.

State TV also broadcast footage of the small craft in operation in the air.

The existence of the project to develop the Bavar 2 was first announced in 2006 when the flying boat conducted its maiden test flight, according to Iran's Arabic-language Al-Alam television network.

Its production is part of Iran's effort to boost its arsenal and military capabilities amid international sanctions on the country's controversial nuclear programme.

The Islamic republic's arch-foes, the United States and Israel, have not ruled out taking military action to curb Teheran's nuclear ambitions.

Last month, Iran said it was mass producing high-speed, missile-launching assault boats to be deployed along its coastline and the key Strait of Hormuz shipping route, which links the oil-rich Gulf to international markets.

Iran has threatened to close the strait, a move that could choke off about 40 per cent of the world's oil supplied by tanker ships, in the event of a military attack.

Meanwhile, a senior Chinese leader, on a visit to Iran, said China wants deeper trade ties with the country and praised bilateral relations despite the controversy over Teheran's nuclear programme.

'China is willing to continue maintaining high-level contacts and exchanges at all levels with Iran and deepen mutual political trust,' the People's Daily quoted Communist Party chief propaganda official Li Changchun as saying.

The two sides should 'deepen trade and economic relations, earnestly put into effect signed agreements and contracts, develop infrastructure, communication, auto and light rail cooperation', Mr Li said during his visit.

He later told President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that China wanted to resolve the stand-off over Iran's nuclear programme through talks, in a repetition of China's standard line.

Mr Ahmadinejad expressed 'appreciation for China's longstanding efforts to help solve the Iranian nuclear issue', adding that 'Iran is committed to solving the issue through negotiations', Xinhua said.

China has backed United Nations Security Council resolutions pressing Iran to abandon disputed nuclear activities, which Western governments say are aimed at giving Iran the means to make nuclear weapons.

Iran says the programme is purely for peaceful purposes.

But Western governments have pressed China to loosen its energy and economic ties with Iran, which they see as shielding Iran from international pressure.


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