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How much of a threat are Iranian coastal missile boats?

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How much of a threat are Iranian coastal missile boats?
According to the article these boats are up to 70 feet long and capable of speeds up to 57 miles per hour and are armed with torpedoes and rocket- propelled grenades as well as cruise missiles and also are used to lay mines.   I assume Chinese made cruise missiles and maybe the same kind that hit the Israeli ship a few months back.   If thirty of these boats race out toward a carrier or even one of the carriers screen ships could they really stop twenty or thirty missiles fired at once and at close range?   The naval officer makes a reference that we watch them closely and can deal with Iran’s small boat threats.   I think currently these boats are a threat to the tankers and to other vessels as well.   I hope a shooting war doesn’t start between the US and Iran, but I think these boats are more of threat then Iran’s three subs are.   I think in certain choke points a mixture of these boats armed with torpedoes and cruise missile and shore based launched cruise missiles can be deadly.  I was wondering if anybody had any thought I this matter.  I’m not saying Iran could sink all the ships and win a war this way but I think damage can be done.  I’ll attach a link to news article I found.

If Iran attacks a US or someones ship, itll be the last thing their missile boat fleet does.

The only way would be for them to enter Iraqi waters, and the CENTCOM and whoever would know straight away, so every one would be on alert, and no ship would be dumb enough to enter Iranian waters.

Look at the thing with Iran taking those British marines a few months back. The Brits were in Iraqi waters, and they were ready to blow up the Iranian boat taking their people back then, and the Brits looked ready to hit Iran with every thing they have..

They are a threat of course, but attacking a warship would be stupid and pointless.

Merchant vessles on the other hand....

An Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) commander may feel it is Allah's will to show the Islamic world that the American carriers are not invincible. Depending on the desired outcome of an attack, it cannot be ruled out that they may want to try. If Iran perceives that it would gain more support in the region if it damages a US warship and claims there was a rogue commander who did it, then the threat is there - to an extent.

I'm not sure which missile boats the report is referring to, but according to Jane's Fighting Ships (JFS), the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy (IRIN) controls the Combatante II class of missile boats. This class of ship (of French origin) is quite popular in the region. Other countries in the Gulf have very similar ships and even the Israeli Sa'ar missile boats are of a similar French design. Due to the fact that the IRIN controls these, I doubt they are the ones being referred to, although they are the ones known as coastal missile boats.

JFS also mentions smaller vessels that look like speedboats with a .50cal or unguided rockets mounted on them. Even smaller water craft with Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs). Those kinds of weapons are no threat to any warship, they're more of a harrasment to the local shipping than anything else. It's the kind of thing pirates would use. An RPG would not sink a ship. Can you imagine a speedboat cruising along even on relatively calm waters and a guy onboard trying to hold the RPG steady enough to get off a reasonably accurate shot at any range? He'd have to aim at the waterline to cause any concern and I highly doubt that being possible unless they tie up alongside the target ship!

The same goes for unguided Multiple Rocket Launching (MRL) setups. You would need to point the boat in the right direction and make sure it does not pitch or rock at all. The Gulf might have sheltered waters, but not as flat as a mirror. And the better the conditions are on the surface, the better the radar coverage is too. Something as small as a speedboat might not show up on radar in choppy waters, but it's potential as a threat is likewise negligible. Have you seen what a speedboat with an MRL looks like? Very top-heavy. Hardly an accurate firing platform, especially after the recoil of the first launch.

Take a look at how IRGCN boats show up quite well on infrared imagery in this clip on YouTube: Ok, so that clip was taken during the day, but they show up just as well in darkness.

In this clip you can see some examples of IRGCN boats fitted with MRLs as they are tied up at a base:

So what about the boats fitted with Fire Control Radars (FCRs)and Chinese designed C-802 Surface to Surface Missiles (SSMs)? Well, you'd need to use your FCR to guide those missiles. That kinda gives your position away to the warships that are specifically designed to meet such threats. Besides that, vessels with large SSM canisters and a nice tall mast for the FCR also has a significantly larger Radar Cross Section (RCS). There are threats in the Gulf to coalition warships, but they're not as big as reports make them out to be.

Yes the merchant shipping in the Gulf is not as well protected, but given that Iran relies on shipping as much as any other nation in the region it would not be in the best interests of the Iranian economy to block off the Strait of Hormuz. Bandar Abbas and Bushehr are two of Iran's largets ports inside this area, and they would be affected by any naval blockade. They wouldn't want to scare off oil tankers further in the Gulf either, because Iran supplies a large amount of oil themselves.

At this stage I'd say Iran is good at rhetoric, but it's only the IRGCN that has any potential to make a silly move. And this would more than likely be on a religious impulse for a perceived increase in regional support. The IRIN is well enough disciplined not to make an un-authorised move like that.

And lastly, here is a small article and photo from an Iranian perscpetive. Notice the largest vessel in the photo. That is the Combatante II class boat I referred to. It is run by the IRIN. The speedboat belongs to the IRGCN and I would hazard a guess that the commando in the kayak (bottom left) is also IRGCN :D I wonder if he can launch an RPG after getting close enough to a carrier?

Hi RecceJet
I have a few questions:
Combatante II class boat  size boat I see is too large of a target and if it lit up it's targeting radar's it would become itself a target.   The speed boat that's going by the Combatante II class boat, I agree armed only with RPG's isn't a real threat either.   But the article mentioned a slightly larger boat then the one used during the tanker wars, which I assume is the speed boat showed passing.   I'll be honest I'm not strong in naval shipping but wouldn't a boat say twice as large as that speed boat be able to carry 802 anti-ship missiles?  If so couldn't or wouldn't twenty boats of the sightly larger size boat in one area be a threat to a screen ship guarding a carrier?   Wasn't that Israeli ship that got hit by they think a 802 was only eight or nine miles from the coast and only had seconds to respond?   I can only assume if US air assets meaning AWAC or other means saw 20 enemy missile boats in one area near a US Naval ship a warning would be given.   Not to sound anti-navy or a downer on this subject but can a modern or semi modern designed navy Frigate really stop (20) 802 anti-ship missiles fired from under 20 miles away?  Could the anti-missile systems really knock out all the threats with so little time?   I can only assume that the good guys have a way of jamming or have other known ways of stopping these missiles.   Navy personnel don't get enough credit for how dangerous there job really is.   Having a bunch of anti-ship missiles traveling at you at 500 mph sounds pretty dangerous  to me that's for sure.     

The Islamic Red Guard is actually quite strong in side Iran oposition in some cases. Oposition to the president that is. They act like a state in a state. And not all in Iran are happy with the current course that Iran would fall into deeper isolation.

I also wouldn't underestimate Irani forces. However I doubt they can get a carrier. These things are well protected.


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