The Alvand Class (also referred to as the Sa'am Class) is the official name of the Vosper Thornycroft Mk 5 1,100 ton displacement frigate in Iranian service. Each has a crew of between 125 and 146. These boats were refitted in Britain just before the 1979 revolution. There were four ships of this class in operation with the Iranian navy originally. Sahand was sunk by US Navy aircraft in April 1988, and Sabalan was crippled by a laser-guided bomb in the same action and spent two years in dock. Sabalan returned to service, but reportedly operates under some speed restrictions
The largest operational surface combatants remaining by the 1990s were these three British built frigates, commissioned in 1971-72 and refitted just before the Shah was overthrown. The Vosper Thornycroft Mk 5 is a mid-1960s design equipped with weapons of that period: Sea Killer (an early surface-to-surface missile), 4.5" and 20mm guns, and a Limbo ASW mortar. Sea Killer was an obsolete system in the 1990s. In addition the Iranian navy appeared to have run out of missiles during that period as well, fitting 122mm rockets instead.
The Alvand Class boats have since been rearmed, as part of a larger push in the Iranian navy. These upgrades most notably included the replacement of the Sea Killer missile system with the more capable C-802 cruise missile system found on a variety of Iranian vessels. Other improvements included the addition of torpedo tubes and a manned 35mm cannon turret in addition to the existing 20mm cannons.
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