Iranian Revolutionary Guard unveils new maritime “suicide drone”

This file photo shows navy personnel from Iran aboard the IRIS Bushehr in the Sudanese Red Sea city of Port Sudan on December 8, 2012.

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TEHRAN, Iran - Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard has unveiled a new drone for use by its naval units, suggesting it could be a “suicide drone” that would crash into ships.

The unveiling comes as Iranian forces have had a series of tense encounters with the U.S. Navy.

The semi-official Tasnim news agency published photos of the drone on Wednesday, saying it has a range of 620 miles and a flight time of four hours.

Tasnim says the drone, powered by two small propellers, “can collide with the target and destroy it, (whether) a vessel or an onshore command center.”

Iran’s Guard and the military already have drones but the announcement of a maritime “suicide” drone comes amid what the U.S. says is an uptick in provocative naval acts by Iran.

In March, the deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guard said Iranian forces will close the strategic Strait of Hormuz to the United States and its allies if they “threaten” the Islamic Republic.

The comments by Gen. Hossein Salami, carried on state television, follow a long history of both rhetoric and confrontation between Iran and the U.S. over the narrow strait, through which nearly a third of all oil traded by sea passes.