Bavar 2 Deployed (C) 2010 CNN
Iran unveiled three squadrons of new flying boats on Tuesday, Iranian news agencies reported. The craft, dubbed the Bavar 2, is armed with a machine gun and carries surveillance cameras, according to a report from the Iranian Student News Agency.
"Islamic Republic of Iran is one of the few countries which managed to design, build and use flying boats in a short time," said Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi, who oversaw the delivering of the aircraft at the Bandar Abbas naval facility on the Persian Gulf near the Strait of Hormuz.
The delivery comes as Iran celebrates its Week of Sacred Defense, which commemorates its eight-year-long resistance to the 1980 Iraqi invasion, according to the Fars News Agency.
U.S. Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Gary Roughhead, commented on the new Iranian deployment, “We welcome this rare gesture of helpfulness by the Iranian military. It will enable warship crews in the Persian Gulf to once again train with live fire.” Defense experts believe Roughhead’s response was an indirect criticism of the Obama administrations cutbacks in the Navy’s budget, which resulted in the cancellation of the naval target drone gunnery training program in 2009.
Since 2009, naval gun crews have trained on computers using virtual reality systems, simulating real-world attacks on their boats. While this method is inexpensive and provides unlimited amounts of target practice, experts in anti-aircraft defense believe that full-scale target exercises are more realistic and worthwhile. Coincidentally, Iran’s new Bavar 2 is approximately the same size as the U.S. navy’s retired drone, the BQM-74 Chukar. The Iranian craft is piloted and has better maneuverability, though it is slower.