Iran stages massive maritime war drills in Gulf – third time in 6 months

The week-long exercise is part of the Islamic Republic’s message to the world of its military capabilities.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Iran began a massive set of war games in the Persian Gulf Thursday that is to last a week and include the firing of missiles from its naval vessels.

The air force and navy are working together in the four-part drill, with warships and submarines coordinating with surveillance planes and helicopters.

Navy Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi told the state’s Mehr News Agency that its goal is to train in “naval plans to deal with any external threats, displaying power, assessing the equipment, the level of preparedness and accountability of the navy, and declaring readiness to achieve collective security in open waters.”

Iran had just introduced on Saturday its first locally developed submarine, the Fateh, which it claimed was capable of launching cruise missiles and could stay underwater for up to five weeks at a time.

This is the third time in half a year that the Iranians are showing off military capabilities near the Straits of Hormuz, through which a third of the world’s oil is shipped. Iranian officials have issued warnings about its ability and readiness to close the Straits many times if it perceived a serious threat from its enemies.

Last August, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards spent several days training in the Gulf against “possible threats,” as the state’s IRNA news agency reported at the time. According to an anonymous U.S. official, more than 100 vessels were involved, and it was meant as a message to the Trump administration.

Washington had just pulled out of the nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic three months earlier, announcing that heavy economic sanctions would be snapped back as well.

Then in December, the Guards held another amphibious exercise, this time on its island of Qeshn near the Strait of Hormuz. They used navy vessels, helicopters, drones and commando units in a mock landing.

The drill was seen as a response to an American aircraft carrier entering the strategic waterway for the first time since President Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic in May.