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Iran's "New" Hovercraft May or May Not Have Been Built in the 1970s

Coinciding with the start of its massive Velayat 4 air-defense maneuvers and amid rising tensions over its nuclear program, Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi unveiled Iran's newest weapon on Monday—a recon drone-launching, missile-firing, all-terrain-travelling hovercraft. One that looks suspiciously just like the ones they bought from the UK decades ago.

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Dubbed the Tondar (or, "Thunderbolt"), the hovercraft was designed and built domestically in Iran and can utilize similarly-sourced small arms, missiles, and torpedoes during its missions. What's more, the Tondar is reportedly also capable of launching reconnaissance drones for "offensive reconnaissance operations." According to Vahidi, the Tondar can and will also be employed for "coastal patrolling, as a command vessel...mid-range amphibious missions, asymmetric defense, as a personnel and equipment carrier for logistical support for islands and coastal areas or as a sea ambulance for relief and rescue missions."

Vahidi also pointed out that the Tondar is capable of travelling in excess of 100km/h through difficult, boggy, sandy, or flooded terrain—so long as it is flat and relatively level. Which is odd because the Tondar, as Robert Beckhusen of Danger Room points out, looks just like an SR.N6 hovercraft, the kind Britain sold to the Shah of Iran back in the early 1970s, and only had a top speed of 58km/h. [Wired - FARS News - Tehran Times - ABC News]

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DISCUSSION

the Tondar ... looks just like an SR.N6 hovercraft, the kind Britain sold to the Shah of Iran back in the early 1970s, and only had a top speed of 58km/h.

And this surprises you? It's usually easier to take apart someone else's design and make incremental improvements than to start from scratch.

I don't know if this is true, but in my high school American History class, they told us that after WWII, the US gave Japan some warships to use to help rebuild their fleet... Japanese engineers used the ship as a template to build new ones of their own, and they copied the warships exactly - right down to the repair patches on the boilers.

Considering the attitude Iran has regarding the rest of the world, it's absolutely no surprise that they would reverse-engineer other countries' products. It also wouldn't surprise me if they exaggerated the performance of their hardware. After all, they've already been caught photoshopping pictures of missile launches and lying to international press. Why should this be any different?