On Tuesday, Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi of Iran's IRGC Navy described recent American-led joint naval activities in the region as an "unnatural military array," warning of a severe response to perceived provocation – and he suggested that Iran may be finally moving to production for its long-promised high-speed surface craft.
"We have informed Americans that their Persian Gulf is an absolute evil," he said, adding that American vessels and drones might not be given right of innocent passage in Iranian waters. “Americans are aware that Iran would destroy their warships if they take a wrong measure in the region.”
His rhetoric echoes a statement earlier this month by the deputy head of the IRGC, General Hossein Salami, who said that Iran would move to close the Strait of Hormuz to U.S. and allied vessels, including allied commercial traffic, if it felt threatened.
Last month, U.S. forces were joined by more than 30 countries in the largest naval maneuvers in the world, the International Mine Countermeasures Exercise, held in the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman and the Red Sea; American defense officials said that the exercise this year was focussed on non-state actor threats like al-Qaeda and ISIS. The Iranian response was not welcoming: Iranian leader Ayatollah Khamenei suggested that the U.S. Navy should hold its exercises in the Bay of Pigs, Cuba, referring to the U.S.-backed invasion attempt in 1961.
In addition to his threats of swift retaliation, Rear Admiral Fadavi claimed on Monday that Iran would soon be producing torpedo / missile boats capable of speeds of up to 80 knots, reflecting comments made in March. "More than 35 knots is a dream for the world naval forces and the US vessels can cruise at a maximum speed of 31 knots," he said.
Iran acquired a British-made 51-foot Bladerunner fast craft in 2010, an advanced speedboat capable of 55-72 knots, and has sporadically claimed that it will begin production of a domestic version.
The IRGC equipped its existing speedboats with the new Iranian-made Ghader anti-ship cruise missiles last year. Analyst Anthony Cordesman and others suggest that Iran's naval strategy for the Strait of Hormuz relies on "large numbers of low-quality missiles" mounted on expendable small craft, deployed sequentially to exhaust anti-missile batteries.