Amid tensions between Tehran and Washington, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have fired a missile from a helicopter targeting a mock-up of US aircraft carrier in the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
The drill, in a waterway through which 20% of all traded oil passes, underlines the lingering threat of military conflict between Iran and the US after last summer saw a series of incidents targeting oil tankers in the region.
The mock-up looks like the Nimitz-class carriers that routinely sail into the Persian Gulf from the Strait of Hormuz. The USS Nimitz had just entered Mideast waters late last week from the Indian Ocean. It remains unclear if the Nimitz will pass through the Strait of Hormuz or not.
According to the US military, the ballistic missile fire was detected and led to American troops being put on alert in the UAE and Qatar.
Missiles were also fired from a variety of angles from land, targeting the replica which has fighter jets on either side of its landing strip.
“The US Navy conducts defensive exercises with our partners promoting maritime security in support of freedom of navigation; whereas, Iran conducts offensive exercises, attempting to intimidate and coerce,” said Commander Rebecca Rebarich, spokeswoman for the US Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet.
In a footage that aired on state TV on Tuesday, Iranian commandos rappelled down from a helicopter on to the replica and fast boats encircled the mock-up. The Guards will use “long-range ballistic missiles with the ability to hit far-reaching aggressor floating targets” during the drill, said the Guards’ deputy commander for operations, Abbas Nilforoushan, according to sepahnews.com.
“Our policies to protect the vital interests of the dear nation of Iran are defensive, in the sense that we will not invade any country from the beginning, but we are completely aggressive in tactics and operations,” said Gen Hossein Salami.
The footage also showed scuba forces underwater, followed by a cutaway to a blast hole just above the waterline on the mock-up carrier. That appeared to be a reminder of US allegations last year that Iran planted limpet mines on passing oil tankers near the strait, which later exploded on the vessels in the same area.
Footage captured by the American military showed the Revolutionary Guards removing an unexploded mine from one vessel, but Iran kept denying the actions.
Source: United Nations Development Programme