Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi said that the vessel could be used for coastal patrols, offensive reconnaissance, military transport and sea-rescue missions© AFP 2013/ FARS NEWS
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MOSCOW, November 13 (RIA Novosti) – Iran has unveiled a domestically designed and manufactured hovercraft capable of launching missiles and aerial drones, the Iranian media reported.
The hovercraft, dubbed Tondar (Thundebolt), was unveiled on Monday during an official ceremony at the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas as part of large-scale military exercises that started over the weekend in eastern Iran.
“Mass production of this hovercraft will considerably boost the operational capability of the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy,” Iranian state-owned news network Press TV quoted Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi as saying at the ceremony.
The minister said that the vessel could be used for coastal patrols, offensive reconnaissance, military transport and sea-rescue missions.
The inauguration of the amphibious assault vessel comes amid escalating tensions between the Islamic Republic and the West over Tehran’s controversial nuclear program.
U.S., other Western powers and Israel suspect Iran of seeking to build nuclear weapons. Iran denies this, saying its program is civilian in nature.
Washington and Tel Aviv have not ruled out the possibility of striking Iran's nuclear facilities.
The Iranian leaders have repeatedly stated that the country was ready to defend itself against any potential attack.
Iran has been emphasizing its ability to attain self-sufficiency in defense and produce important weapon systems domestically for nearly two decades, manufacturing its own tanks, armored personnel carriers, missiles, aerial drones, submarines, and even fighter jets.
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.