Iran Navy – The two-day naval drills, codenamed Eqtedar-e Daryayi (Naval Strength) 99, started during a formal ceremony in a vast area spanning the Makran coastal strip on the Sea of Oman and north of the Indian Ocean on Wednesday.
The event was attended by Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri and Chief Commander of the Army Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi, and other senior commanders.
The Iranian Navy also took delivery of Makran helicopter carrier, a logistics ship designed to support the Navy’s missions in farther waters, such as the northern part of the Indian Ocean, the Bab al-Mandab Strait, and the Red Sea.
Such vessels have been designed to serve as a “mobile seaport,” and are, therefore, considered key infrastructural elements of any naval force.
Their flight deck serves as a mobile airbase for helicopters and gunships as well as unmanned aerial vehicles.
Makran reportedly can carry 82,000 tons of logistics and supply them to naval units in various locations. It is also capable of making voyages for 1,000 days without a port call.
It is said to be Iran’s largest military vessel and can carry five helicopters at the same time.
A missile-launching ship called Zereh (armor) also joined the Iranian Navy’s southern fleet.
During the military exercises, Iranian surface combat units, sub-surface naval forces as well as aerial units will practice battles with mock enemy forces and perform calculated warfare tactics as well as joint operations against any possible military scenario.
Surface-to-surface cruise missiles and torpedoes will be fired from domestically-developed submarines during the war games, while aircraft, coastal and seaborne operational units will practice special tasks. Unmanned aerial operations and electronic warfare tactics will be exercised as well.
The naval drills come amid America’s stepped-up military threats against Iran in the final days of US President Donald Trump in office.
Late last month, two American B-52 bombers flew over the Middle East. They deployed from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota and were escorted by US F-16s, according to US Central Command.
It marked Washington’s third deployment of nuclear-capable B-52s to the region within 45 days.
On December 10, two B-52 long-range bombers took off at short notice from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana for the non-stop, 36-hour mission to cross Europe and then the Arabian Peninsula to the Persian Gulf, according to US defense officials.
The US Navy had earlier announced the arrival of a nuclear-powered submarine in the Persian Gulf. The USS Georgia passed the Strait of Hormuz accompanied by two American warships, making it the first missile-loaded submarine of its kind to enter the region in eight years.
The maneuver is being held amid heightened tensions between Iran and the United States which has sent an aircraft carrier -USS Nimitz- and a submarine – USS Georgia – to the Persian Gulf and deployed B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf region.
The first phase of the two-day drill, which according to the Army’s public relations office was arranged unexpectedly, involves the Navy’s surface, subsurface, and flight units among other armaments.
The armaments were deployed in general areas of the exercise to continue their specialized exercises based on a predetermined scenario.
Firing surface-to-surface cruise missiles and torpedoes from indigenous naval submarines as well as conducting drone and electronic warfare operations are other parts of the military exercise.
The spokesperson of the naval drill, Deputy Navy Commander for Coordination Affairs Rear Admiral Hamzeh Ali Kaviani, said the exercise took place unexpectedly and the participating units spread to the area in a very short time since notified.
“By holding this exercise, we will be able to assess and evaluate the ability to react in a timely and effective manner to the possible conditions caused by the enemy threat, so that by eliminating the weaknesses and strengthening the strengths, we can have a performance commensurate with the threat level,” the rear admiral explained.
Also, in an official ceremony during the drill, the Navy’s Southern Fleet received Makran forward base ship and Zereh (Armor) missile-launching frigate. The event was attended by Armed Forces Chief of Staff Major General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, Army Commander Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi, and other senior commanders, according to the Tasnim News Agency.
Makran forward base ship can carry 100,000 tons of fuel and fresh water and supply them to the vessels in various locations. The vessel is capable of making voyages for 1,000 days without a port call.
In September, Navy Commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi said Makran is the country’s largest military vessel that can carry seven helicopters. It could provide support for the naval forces and warships in high seas, especially in northern Indian Ocean, Bab el-Mandeb Strait, and Red Sea.
The Zereh missile-launching vessel, with its high maneuverability and speed, would help the Navy in defending Iran’s territorial waters.