TEHRAN (Dispatches) — Iran’s navy began a short-range missile drill in the Gulf of Oman on Wednesday amid provocative moves by the U.S. military in the region.
The two-day missile drill is being held in the sea’s southeastern waters where two new Iranian-made warships joined the exercise on Wednesday: The missile-launching Zereh, or "armor,” and the Makran, a logistics vessel with a helicopter pad named for a coastal region in southern Iran.
Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Muhammad Baqeri and Chief Commander of the Army Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi, and other senior commanders attended launch of the exercise.
The Makran, designed as a "mobile seaport”, is about to support the Iranian navy’s missions in remote waters, such as north of the Indian Ocean, the Bab al-Mandab Strait, and the Red Sea.
The vessel has a displacement capacity for 82,000 tonnes of logistics. It is capable of making voyages for up to 1,000 days without a port call. It is said to be Iran’s largest military vessel and can carry five helicopters at the same time.
Gen. Baqeri said Iran will resume its patrols in the Red Sea to ensure full security for its oil tankers and other commercial vessels.
Iran’s missile program the Middle East’s most potent, regarding it an important deterrent and retaliatory force against U.S. and other adversaries in the event of any aggression.
The drill will mark Iranian surface combat units, sub-surface naval forces as well as aerial units practicing battles with mock enemy forces and performing warfare tactics as well as joint operations against any possible military scenario.
Surface-to-surface cruise missiles and torpedoes will be fired from domestically-developed submarines during the war games, while aircraft, coastal and seaborne operational units will practice special tasks. Unmanned aerial operations and electronic warfare tactics will be exercised as well.
The naval drills come amid America’s stepped-up military threats against Iran in the final days of U.S. President Donald Trump in office.
Late last month, two American B-52 bombers flew over the Middle East. They deployed from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota and were escorted by F-16s, according to U.S. Central Command.
It marked Washington’s third deployment of nuclear-capable B-52s to the region within 45 days.
On December 10, two B-52 long-range bombers took off at short notice from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana for the non-stop, 36-hour mission to cross Europe and then the Arabian Peninsula to the Persian Gulf, according to U.S. military officials.
The U.S. Navy had earlier announced the arrival of a nuclear-powered submarine in the Persian Gulf. The USS Georgia passed the Strait of Hormuz accompanied by two American warships, making it the first missile-loaded submarine of its kind to enter the region in eight years.
Iran holds annual exercises to display the Islamic Republic’s military might to confront "foreign threats”.
On Saturday, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps held a naval parade in the Persian Gulf and a week earlier Iran held a massive drone maneuver across half the country.