On Wednesday, Iran upped the rhetoric with images of masses of missiles which it claims are the first of their type being shot from underground areas.
Iranian Navy ships on a training exercise
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Iran’s “Great Prophet” military drill is a serious affair in some ways yet comical in others.
For instance, Iran had its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps fast boats do circles around a model of a US aircraft carrier, which looked more like people doing antics on Spring Break in Lake Havasu than a serious military exercise.
However, on Wednesday Iran upped the rhetoric with images of masses of missiles, which it claims are the first of their type being shot from underground areas.
Iran is using the naval drill to put US forces on alert and test them, similar to what Hezbollah is doing to Israel at the same time.
“Watch the first images of missiles from the depths of the earth,” says Iran’s Fars News.
The second day of the 14th Great Prophet drills, an annual event for Iran on the southern coast, illustrated “one of the important and strategic achievements of the IRGC Air Force as it is firing ballistic missiles from deep underground,” the report says.
This final stage of the military drills included the use of drones in areas around the Straits of Hormuz.
These were IRGC drones and Tasnim News says they attacked the model aircraft carrier and damaged the bridge of the ship. In addition, 22 Sukhoi aircraft strafed targets on an island.
“The planes destroying hypothetical enemy targets that were rigorously designed and much smaller than their actual size, with a variety of smart bombs, was another part of this phase of the exercise,” Tasnim news says.
Iran says it combined its air force and naval units as part of the drill, part of a strategy that could be used to confront enemies. Obviously, Iran’s message here is to the US and US ships in the area.
This includes the US aircraft carrier Nimitz, which is on station with the 5th fleet.
Iran used Mohajer UAVs and surface-to-surface missile operations, shore-to-sea operations, heavy artillery as well as minesweeping.
“The firing of all kinds of artillery, RPGs and light weapons of the jihadi combat forces in a line and from fortresses around the islands, once again showed the determination of the border guards defending the Islamic Republic.”
Iran has become better in the use of combined arms in recent years. For instance, it used drones and cruise missiles to attack Saudi Arabia last year.
The overall goal of these drills is to showcase Iran’s firepower. Iran was pleased to read US media reports that its drill caused an alarm at Dhafra and Udeid airbases in the Gulf, where the US has drones and various warplanes.
According to Fox News reporter Lucas Tomlinson, Indian fighter pilots at al Dhafra air base were told to take cover during the alert when Iran fired ballistic missiles as part of its exercise. The US condemned the irresponsible launches.
Tehran has shown that it can send US soldiers into alert even without having to actually attack US bases. For instance, it appears that the Iranian missiles did fall in the water “close enough” to US bases in the UAE and Qatar that the missiles triggered warning systems.
That would appear to be a way for Iran to say that it owns the Persian Gulf and the US are just guests there. That has been Tehran’s rhetoric all along.
The reality is that in any conflict with the US and Iran, the Iranian navy would be destroyed rapidly if the US brought its full force to bear.
In the past, the US has generally eschewed this, with exceptions in the 1980s when the US did sink half of Iran’s operational naval fleet during the 1988 Operation Praying Mantis.
Iran’s naval and IRGC commanders all remember the 1988 incident. They’d like to believe now that their missiles give them the stand-off range to strike fear into the US and US allies such as Israel.
In fact, Iran is doing in the Gulf precisely what Hezbollah is doing in Lebanon to Israel: Encouraging an alert, without doing anything. That is what Iran’s recent naval drill appears to have been all about.