Amid rising tensions in the Middle East and in an apparent warning to Israel, the Iranian military on Saturday launched an explosive-laden drone from a landing ship and hit a mock naval base during a military drill.
Footage of the annual military drill, dubbed Zolfaghar 1401, released by Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) showed the Hengam-class landing ship IRIS Lavan launching an Ababil “suicide drone” toward the mock naval base.
After the video surfaced on Twitter, users pointed out that the military base looked similar to the Israeli naval base in the southern Red Sea port city of Eilat. Next to the simulated target was a mock version of an Israeli Navy Sa’ar 6-class corvette, Times of Israel reported.
Apart from Ababil drone, Saturday’s drills also saw the use of other indigenous drones such as Arash, missile system Bavar and Toofan anti-tank guided missile (ATGM), which were used to hit simulated targets on land and sea.
The low-altitude Majid missile system and the Khatam artillery fire control system were also deployed to strike mock targets, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
Mohajer-6, a tactical and combat drone with a range of 2,000 kilometers, was also part of the drill, along with other reconnaissance and combat drones used to survey simulated war zones.
The three-day combined annual military drill, which included Iran’s ground force, air defense force, air force and naval wing, started on Thursday night. It was held over an area stretching from the Strait of Hormuz to the Sea of Oman and north of the Indian Ocean.
“We often hear nonsensical comments from the Zionist regime and some of their officials. We tell them that in case of a threat directed at any part of the Islamic Republic of Iran from the Zionist regime, the [Iranian] Armed Forces will respond decisively and with multiple force,” Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi, chief commander of the Iranian Army, told reporters Monday, Taghrib News reported.
Mousavi said the focus of the Zolfaghar 1401 drill was deterrence and security.
“In the past few days, the Iranian Army showcased some of its capabilities in defending the country and responding to the enemy,” he added. “We have shown the world that we can respond to any threat in the best way.”
This is not the first time Tehran has used mock Israeli targets in military drills. During a drill in December last year, the Iranian military launched missiles at a target resembling Israel’s Dimona nuclear complex.
Amid growing uncertainty about the Iran nuclear deal, tensions between both nations have continued to escalate in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Air Force on Monday deployed six F-15s in Israel to conduct deep strikes drills with an Israeli fleet of F-35 stealth fighters. It came on a day when Israel carried out a series of missile strikes in Syria in an apparent bid to counter the presence of Iranian units and fighters associated with the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.