Iran has sent much of its navy to take part in a three-day drill across two million square kilometers of sea between the Straits of Hormuz and the Indian Ocean. Iranian media boasted that this was a major illustration of Tehran’s sea power. Missiles will be launched, reconnaissance drones, and submarines will take part, along with helicopters and frigates.

The mission, deemed Velayat 97, began Friday in the Persian Gulf and off the coast of Oman. Fars News reported that the Fatah ‘Conquerer’ class submarine, the first of its type constructed in Iran and operational for the last several years, took part in the drill. The Sahand class frigate, also designed in Iran and launched in 2012, took part. Tehran stated 100 naval units took part practicing with cruise missiles, torpedoes and rock launchers.
Important martial systems, including cruise missiles, torpedoes and rocket launchers, were tested on surface, sub-surface and flight units, which were repeatedly tested.

The naval exercise comes at a time of tensions with the US, after Washington condemned Iran at the summit in Warsaw. In addition Iran has upped tensions with Saudi Arabia after a terror attack in southeastern Iran, which Tehran blamed partly on Riyadh. Iran has also recently condemned the United Arab Emirates, Israel and the US. Sending its navy to the Strait of Hormuz, a major chokepoint for the world’s oil, is provocative.

The Iranian navy is no match for the US navy, which has major assets in the Persian Gulf, but Iran’s display is meant to show that its locally-designed ships and submarines can perform their functions and to show that they can incorporate missile and air units into their naval repertoire. Iran’s navy is not intended to actually meet the US in open battle, but to pose a threat, such that it can tie up its neighbors who need to plan for every eventuality. For instance General Charles F. Wald, former deputy commander of the US European command, said at a conference of the Middle East Forum on February 6 that if Iran ever fired at the US navy “that’s the last time they’d have a navy.”

Iran’s display of naval power off Oman may also indicate its broader intentions regarding Oman and Yemen. In Yemen Iran has supported the Houthi rebels who have used Iranian technology to target Saudi Arabia with ballistic missiles. In addition Oman enjoys decent relations with Iran but Oman also hosted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last year and has sought to play a role in the Israel-Palestinian peace efforts.

Source » jpost