TEHRAN -- Iran’s army and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) on Tuesday launched a joint air defense drill in the country’s sprawling central desert that they say will encompass half the country’s airspace.
The two-day ‘Guardians of Velayat Sky 1400’ drill is led by the Khatam al-Anbia Air Defense Headquarters with the goal of practicing defensive capabilities of the country’s “sensitive and vital” spots and testing the operational maneuverability of the armed forces’ new-generation defensive equipment.
The Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF), Air Defense Force (IRIADF) and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)’s Aerospace Division took operational tasks on Tuesday.
As part of the exercise, which military commanders said aims to closely replicate war, manned and unmanned aerial vehicles and missiles were launched against ground targets in order to test the performance of air defense and radar systems.
National television broadcast footage that showed several missiles being launched from locally manufactured air defense systems.
Brigadier General Qader Rahimzadeh, commander-in-chief of the Khatam al-Anbia base, said the IRGC’s 3rd Khordad missile defense system and the army’s 15th Khordad system had been deployed as part of the exercise, in addition to other Iranian electronic and cyber warfare equipment.
Brigadier General Alireza Sabahifard, commander of the air defense force, said the first day of the exercise had been successful.
“The equipment we used today are all indigenous and on the cutting edge of modern technology,” he said.
It came a day after Iran unveiled Majid, a short-range air defense missile system it said could be linked with a locally manufactured radar system with a range of 30km (19 miles) and could hit targets in a range of eight km (five miles).
Rahimzadeh said on Tuesday that one of the goals of the drill was to demonstrate that Iranian armed forces can defend the “sensitive and vital centers” of the country.
Several major nuclear and military sites are located in the central parts of Iran, including the Natanz nuclear facilities in Isfahan – which were the target of two sabotage attacks since last year that Iran blamed on the occupying regime of Israel.
The Zionist regime in recent months has repeatedly threatened Iran’s nuclear energy program. Last month, chief of general staff Aviv Kohavi said the occupying regime had “greatly accelerated” its military plans to attack Iran.
Iran regularly holds such drills and says they assess the troops’ combat readiness and demonstrate the nation’s military capabilities.
The latest exercises come as both the Iranian army and the IRGC
held drills and mobilized weaponry to the southwestern areas of the country bordering Azerbaijan.
Iran has said it is “concerned” about the presence of Israeli assets near its borders.
Last year and earlier this year, the Iranian army and the IRGC held a series of military exercises to demonstrate ground, air and naval capabilities amid tensions with the United States.
Talks in Austria’s capital, Vienna, aimed at restoring Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, are expected to resume in the coming weeks.
The 2015 nuclear deal saw Tehran drastically limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the removal of economic sanctions. In 2018, then-U.S. president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord, raising tensions across the wider Middle East.