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BH.7 Wellington Class

The Imperial Iranian Navy operated the largest hovercraft fleet of any country during the 1970s. Ordered in 1970 and delivered in later that year, Iran received a total of 6 BH.7 type hovercraft, including 2 Mk 4 and 5 Mk 5A. Both versions, built by the British Hovercraft Company (originally the Saunders-Roe Division of Westland) were used for both combat transport and logistical support The craft had a displacement of 50 tons with a full load and a top speed of 60 knots in optimal conditions. The Mk 4 types had provisions for Sea Killer surface to surface missiles, though these were not initially fitted. Iran did, however, possess these missiles for their Alvand class frigates, and there were some indications that this had been done.

The hovercraft were acquired because of the many shallow draft waterways along the Iranian coast and in other regions of the Persian Gulf, making such a craft invaluable. The BH.7 types participated in the Iranian occupation of the contested Abu Musa and Tunbs islands in 1971, marking one of the largest hovercraft-borne military operations at the time. The BH.7s continued to serve after the 1979 Iranian Revolution and were still listed as in active service as of 2008. By that point these craft were almost 40 years old, despite a refit during the 1980s. Like the SR.N6 types, which were removed from service by 2000, whether they are functional was unclear. Iranian authorities in 2006 had claimed that they had produced an indigenous hovercraft, but the associated pictures showed a craft visually similar to the BH.7 Mk 4, armed with four missile launchers of unknown type. Whether Iran had the capability to produce copies was unclear.




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