TEHRAN (Dispatches) – The Iranian army on Saturday wrapped up a large-scale military exercise in the Sea of Oman and parts of the Indian Ocean.
The drill, codenamed Zolfaqar-99, began on Thursday with the participation of units from ground, naval, air, and air defense forces of the Iranian army.
The drill zone covered an area of 2 million square kilometers in eastern parts of the Strait of Hormuz, Makran Coast, Sea of Oman, and northern parts of the Indian Ocean, down to the 10-degrees latitude.
Speaking to reporters at the conclusion of the exercise, Army commander Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi said a broad range of homegrown equipment was tested in the war game, including submarines, drones and missiles.
The commander said the massive drill has assured the people of Iran that the armed forces are fully prepared to protect the national interests.
"The message of the war game for the ill-wishers is that they should never test the Islamic Republic of Iran and avoid miscalculations; otherwise they would receive a response that would make them regret their actions.”
The Iranian navy on Friday said it drove off American aircraft that flew close to an area where military exercises were underway near the Strait of Hormuz.
The military said three U.S. aircraft -- a P-8 airplane, a MQ-9 drone and a RQ-4 drone -- were detected by Iran’s air force radars after they entered the country’s air defense identification zone, according to its website.
After "ignoring warnings by Iran’s defense systems to keep away from the drill zone” the aircraft were tracked by an Iranian drone before "they changed course and left the zone,” it added.
In June last year, a U.S. RQ-4 drone was shot down by Iran after violating the Islamic Republic’s airspace.
Tensions have escalated between Tehran and Washington since U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from a landmark nuclear agreement in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Iran.
Their animosity deepened after the U.S. assassinated top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike outside Baghdad airport in January, prompting Iran to retaliate with missile strikes against bases used by the U.S. military in Iraq.
During Friday’s drill, the Iranian navy deployed homegrown military equipment, including a submarine and a cruise missile on the second day of exercises near the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
The three-day exercises were held over waters stretching from the northern Indian Ocean to the eastern end of the Strait of Hormuz, through which a fifth of world oil output passes.
The submarine dubbed the Fateh -- Persian for "Conquerer” -- was seen in action for the first time and sailed up the Indian Ocean, the military said on its website.
The near 600-tonne sub is equipped with torpedoes, mines and cruise missiles, and can stay underwater at a depth of more than 200 meters (650 feet) for up to 35 days, according to Iranian media.
Unveiled last year, it is Iran’s first submarine in the semi-heavy category, filling a gap between its light Ghadir class and heavy Kilo class submarines.
The Iranian navy also test-fired a "Ghader” land-to-sea cruise missile first unveiled in 2014, saying it successfully hit its target at a distance of over 200 kilometers (124 miles).
The installation of missile systems "all across the country’s southern coast has enabled us to target any threat at sea from any point,” navy commander Rear Admiral Hussein Khanzadi said.
"This is not about deterrence; it’s about attacking any target that could pose a threat for Iran,” he said.
Videos aired on national television showed the missile being fired from a mobile system installed on a truck, with Khanzadi thanking the crew afterwards.
A locally-made "Simorgh” combat drone also destroyed its targets using "smart, precision bombs” in waters more than a 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) away, the navy said.