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Kaman Fast Attack Missile Boat
Sina Fast Attack Missile Boat

Iran purchased 12 Combattante II missile boats from France, seeing them delivered between 1974 and 1981. These 275 ton displacement boats, officially named Kaman in Iranian service, have a top speed of 37.5 knots. They represented some of Iran's most modern vessels of Western origin. Two were lost in combat, one to Iraqi forces in 1980 and another to US forces in 1988.

The main armament of these ships was in the form of a four round missile launcher and a 76mm OTO-Melara automatic cannon. The anti-ship missiles were originally the RGM-84 Harpoon, but have since been replaced by the locally produced Noor, a license produced copy of the Chinese C-802 missile.

These missile boats remained an important part of the Iranian naval forces as of 2008, and had led to earlier developments announced in 2003 to develop a locally produced version. The first of these Sina Class missile boats, essentially locally produced Iranian versions of the Kaman, standard with C-802 missiles and an improved fire control radar, entered service in 2006. Iran had two of these boats in service by 2008, with another in production. These boats appear identical to the modified Kamans with the exception of the radar radome.

The Sina "frigate" at 350 tons is not a frigate in the commonly used meaning of that word. The "Sina-1" is in service; it is a near duplication of the old La Combattante II's Iran operates; but from the outset with Chinese C-801 missiles, Chinese diesels, and less elaborate EW systems.

The first SINA class boat, Peykan, became operational in 2006 followed by a second unit, Joshan. Reverse engineered Combattante-II (Kaman class) boats the only obvious external difference is the main radar. The Iranian military displayed its latest Patrol Torpedo (PT) boats in connection with the August 2006 war games and exercises. Both new versions of "Joshan P225 FAC(M)" and "Peykan P224 FAC(M)" have been re-built in memory of the original "KAMAN CLASS" FAC(M) "Peykan" and "Joshan" which lost in Persian Gulf during 1980-88 war against Iraq.

Patrol Torpedo (PT) boats are small naval vessels that have been used effectively to attack larger warships. These types of ships could be a threat to the US strike groups deploying in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea. Naval Commander Kouchaki told Fars News Agency (FNA) that: "Joshan [a new Iranian PT boat] enjoys the world's latest technology, specially with regard to its military, electrical and electronic systems, frame and chassis, and it has the capabilities required for launching powerful missiles."

Iranian sources claim that "Similar to Iran's first PT boat 'Peykan', 'Joshan' also has a speed of over 45 sea knots which makes it even faster than the same generation of PT boats manufactured by other countries" [Western sources credit these vessels with a speed of about 35 knots]. The vessel is capable of using various missiles and rockets with a range beyond 100 km [60 miles], high maneuverability power that helps it to escape torpedoes, and enploys the most advanced sea shell of the world called 'Fajr'." The 76mm-caliber shell, which only Iran, the United States, and Italy can manufacture, of the new Iranian PT boat also enjoys a wide variety of military capabilities and can hit sea and air targets within the range of 19 km or 23,000 feet in distance, respectively.

The second Iranian build Fast Attack Craft (Missile) or FAC(M) officially become operational in the Caspian Sea in September 2006. The newly built Iranian Navy "Joshan P225 FAC(M)" "joined "Peykan P224 FAC(M)" at sea and in background to shots on TV during naval exercise near base.

The Kaman units built by the French for the Shah were deployed in the Persian Gulf. The initial locally built Sina units were launched and deployed in the Caspian Sea. With a geriactic life expectancy of 45-50 years, the Kamans seem set to time out in the 2020s. The shift in the operating area suggests that there will not be a 1-to-1 replacement of Kaman by Sima, but the Sima's might come on line at a rather more leisurely pace, as trained crews are freed up from retired Kamans.

Iran experienced a really bad day on 18 April 1988. Having gained a foothold on Iraqs al-Faw Peninsula months before, Iranian troops had become bogged down in the muck and mire (much like Flanders Fields in World War I) under a constant rain of Iraqi artillery. When the Iraqi Republican Guard launched a massive counter-offensive on 18 April, aided by chemical weapons, the Iranians on the al-Faw were defeated with surprising ease. It was becoming apparent to the Iranians that they were running short on humans for human wave attacks. The same day, the United States executed Operation Praying Mantis, giving Iran additional reason to believe that the United States was now actively intervening on the side of Iraq.

Operation Praying Mantis was the largest of five major U.S. Navy surface actions since World War II. It was the first, and so far only, time the U.S. Navy has exchanged surface-to-surface missile fire with an enemy, and it resulted in the largest warship sunk by the U.S. Navy since World War II.

In response to the U.S. attacks on the oil platforms, the IRIN Kamen-class missile patrol boat (PTG) Joshan, under the command of Captain Abbas Mallek, was ordered to proceed to the scene, although the orders were ambiguous as to what exactly she was supposed to do. Approximately three hours later, Joshan was detected closing on SAG Charlie. Captain Chandler, on board Wainwright, was well aware from intelligence reports that Joshan was carrying the last operational Harpoon anti-ship missile in the Iranian navy inventory.

Chandler later said he would have shot Joshan at 35 miles were it not for the de-escalatory order. However, as the Joshan and SAG Charlie continued to close at a combined speed of over 50 knots, Wainwright continued to broadcast warnings to Joshan to turn away or be fired upon. Captain Mallek responded on the radio, I am doing my duty. I am in international waters and will commit no provocative attack. However, at 13 miles, following yet more warnings, Joshan locked on to Wainwright with her fire-control radar. Chandler issued a last radio warning, Stop engines, abandon ship, I intend to sink you. Joshan responded by launching her Harpoon at Wainwright.

In response to the Harpoon launch, Simpson fired four Standard missiles in surface-to-surface mode at Joshan and Wainwright fired one. (Although the Standard missiles anti-air warhead is relatively small, the missile gets to the target extremely fastand when I was in TAO school in 1982, the instructor hammered that point home.) At least four of the missiles hit Joshans superstructure with devastating effect, but not enough to sink the ship. Chandler opted to keep Wainwrights bow pointed at Joshan to minimize radar cross section. The Iranian Harpoons seeker either failed to activate or was lured off by chaff, and the missile passed close aboard down Wainwrights starboard side. Bagley also fired a Harpoon at Joshan, which missed. The U.S. ships then sank the crippled patrol boat with guns.

The Joshan suffered 15 sailors killed; among the severely wounded was Captain Mallek with a severed leg. While the surface action was going on, two Iranian F-4 Phantom fighter-bombers were orbiting too close for comfort and Wainwright engaged them with two extended-range Standard missiles. The F-4s took evasive action, but one missile blew a large hole in the wing of one of the aircraft. The pilot managed to bring the badly damaged plane to land at Bandar Abbas, a credit to both the his skill and the toughness of the F-4.




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