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 speed of the hovercraft is about 58 knots or about 107 km / h, which can be speeding up to 60 knots in the MK5 model. The bottom cushions also feature a finger feature that was used in previous models. The cusion has a longer lifespan and higher productivity, but instead has more maintenance costs.
One of the interesting things in designing this hovercraft is the two sides on the deck of this hovercraft, which can be used in two models, depending on the type of construction. The empty space of these parts can either be filled with cabins and be fitted with people and equipment, and can be built without cabins, so that small mines, rocket launchers, or landing sites and drone launchers can be built in these places. 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 British Hovercraft Corporation BH.7 (also known as the Wellington Class ) was a medium-sized hovercraft for military roles built by British Hovercraft Corporation. The BH.7 Mk2 prototype flew for the first time in November 1969 and was evaluated by the Royal Navy. It was allocated as pennant number the P235 and as serial number of military aircraft the XW255 . It has been tested in a number of different roles from 1970 until 1983, including the fight against mining, fisheries protection, and anti-submarine warfare, operating from Naval Air Station in the Royal Navy of RNAS Portland.
Two BH.7 Mk.4 and four BH.7 Mk.5A were delivered to the Imperial Iranian Navy in the early 1970s, and improvements were made on them. For example, the MK4 model utilizes surface-to-surface missile launching capabilities that did not exist in the original model.
After the Revolution they were stored due to the trade embargo. 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. They had a function that in the case of the first of these 2 types, the Mk 3, is essentially logistics, with a maximum load of 14 tons which can include 2 light armored vehicles, 3 Land Rovers with trailer plus 60 equipped soldiers, or 170 soldiers equipped. The armament of the Mk 3 is composed of machine guns on the sides. The Mk 5 is instead a suitable means to combat, with an allocation of a cannon twin-linked 30mm prodiero with radar of the direction of the shot, and 4 anti-ship missiles, 2 arranged in pairs at the sides, for use as a means fast coastal defense.
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.
During an exercise in the Persian Gulf in 2002, 2 of these craft were sighted. Iranian authorities in 2006 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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