Velayat-97 will see the participation of submarines, warships, helicopters and surveillance planes as well as missile launches from the naval vessels.

With tensions high between Israel and Iran, the Islamic Republic began an annual week-long naval war games in the Persian Gulf and strategic Strait of Hormuz.

The Commander of Iran’s Army Navy Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi was quoted by Iran’s Mehr News Agency as saying that the large-scale maritime drill dubbed “Velayat-97” would begin two kilometers from the Strait of Hormuz, the Oman Sea and will continue up to 10 degrees north of the Indian Ocean.
The games, the report quoted Khanzadi as saying, “aims for training 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.”

The drill is expected to have four stages and see submarines, warships, helicopters and surveillance planes take part in the drill which will also include missile launches from the naval vessels.

Iran has been working to upgrade its navy, with new vessels and submarines introduced to bolster the country’s ageing fleet and last week Iran’s navy announced that it had commissioned its first indigenously developed submarine capable of firing cruise missiles.

“The Fateh is entirely a homegrown submarine that is designed and developed by experts of the defence ministry and is equipped with the world’s modern technologies,” Iran’s Defense Minister Brig.-Gen. Amir Hatami was quoted by Tasnim on Saturday as saying.

According to Hatami the Fateh-class submarine weighs 600 tonnes and is outfitted with a guided-missile system capable of launching submarine-launched cruise missiles as well as anti-ship missiles and torpedoes.

The Fateh, which also has an advanced sonic radar system that can identify enemy vessels, was also said to be able to dive to 200 meters for up to five weeks.

A comparison between Iran and Israel shows that while Iran has a significantly larger naval assets than Israel (398 versus 65) Iran has a total coastline of 2,440 km compared to Israel’s 273km.

In early February Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei urged Iran’s armed forces to continue to increase their military capabilities.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran does not intend to start a war against anyone but you (Armed Forces) should increase your capabilities to the extent that not only does the enemy fear attacking Iran but also the shadow of war against the Iranian nation will fade away with the help of the Armed Forces’ solidarity, might and effective deployment,” he was quoted by Fars as saying.

The following week Iranian Army’s Deputy Commander for Operations Rear Admiral Mahmoud Moussavi said that Tehran plans to increase the range of their land-to-sea missiles.

“We did not have coast-to-sea missiles before the (Islamic) Revolution (in Iran) but today the range of our missiles has increased to 300km and it will increase in the near future,” Iranian Army’s Deputy Commander for Operations Rear Admiral Mahmoud Moussavi was quoted by Iran’s Fars News as saying.

Israel and the United States have repeatedly warned against Iran’s missile program, claiming that the missiles tested by Tehran are capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Iran marked the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution last week.

Source » jpost