(TEHRAN, Iran) — Amid continuing tensions with its neighbors and the U.S., Iran has revealed a new domestically produced hovercraft called “Thunder” that will operate in the Persian Gulf and can launch surveillance drones and missiles.
The amphibious craft, dubbed “Tondar” in Farsi and unveiled Monday during Iranian wargames, uses a cushion of air to glide over the surface of the water and can also travel on land. According to Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi, it can be used for “offensive reconnaissance operations [and] midrange amphibious missions […] for islands and coastal areas.”
Iran has repeatedly threatened to use its naval power to close off the Strait of Hormuz, the narrowest portion of the Persian Gulf. Twenty percent of the world’s oil passes through the Strait.
In addition to conflict with the U.S. and other Western nations over its nuclear ambitions, Iran has been locked in a dispute with the United Arab Emirates over three islands in the Strait.
The U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain across from Iran and guards the passageway. Last week Iranian military jets fired on an unarmed U.S. military Predator surveillance drone in international airspace over the waters of the Persian Gulf.
This week’s wargames have been billed as Iran’s biggest ever and will reportedly involve 8,000 elite and regular troops in addition to the country’s air force, radar air defense and missile systems according to local reports.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN