Iran's paramilitary revolutionary guard has fired a missile from a helicopter aimed at a replica aircraft carrier in the strategic street of Hormuz.
The exercises – called "Prophet Mohammed 14." – were held near the Strait of Hormuz, an important shipping route for a fifth of the world's oil production.
State television reported Tuesday that the exercise aimed at threatening the United States in the face of tensions between Tehran and Washington.
The U.S. Navy has condemned the exercise as "irresponsible and ruthless."
A day comes after satellite images show that the aircraft carrier was towed into the strait by a tug from the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas.
A section of footage from Iranian state television on July 28 that is reported to show an Iranian model imitating a U.S. aircraft carrier surrounded by speedboats above and below during a military exercise near the Strait of Hormuz
The Iranian Revolutionary Guards blasted a model of a US aircraft carrier with missiles during military exercises in sensitive Gulf waters on July 28, state television said
In the footage broadcast on Tuesday from the exercise "Great Prophet 14", Iranian commands were chained to the replica by a helicopter.
They were staged at a time of increasing tensions between Iran and its decades-old arch enemy, the United States.
Recordings of the war games broadcast on state television showed the Guard's air and naval forces preparing for an attack off the country's southwest coast.
Speedboats flew over the water in formation before ground troops fired cannons and a missile was launched by a helicopter.
The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier model was visible with rows of dummy fighter planes on either side of the runway.
The television then cut off missiles fired from the back of a truck at sea before the fuselage of the model aircraft carrier was damaged.
Another missile, launched by a helicopter, left a trail of smoke before it appeared to hit the side of the fake warship.
An Iranian model that mimics a US aircraft carrier that was hit during a military exercise near the Strait of Hormuz (see image above and below)
One then saw armed forces abseil onto the ship's deck before around a dozen speedboats circled around it.
"What was shown today in these aerospace and naval exercises was all offensive," Major General Hossein Salami, the Guard's commander, told state television.
The war games take place only a few days after Tehran accused US fighter planes of harassing an Iranian airliner in the sky over Syria.
At least four passengers on board the Mahan Air aircraft were injured in the Thursday incident after the pilot took immediate action to evade the fighter jets.
The drilling in a waterway, through which 20% of all traded oil flows, highlights the continuing danger of a military conflict between Iran and the United States after last summer, when a series of oil tanker incidents occurred in the region.
In January, a US drone attack killed a top Iranian general in Baghdad, and Tehran responded by firing ballistic missiles at American forces in Iraq.
While the coronavirus pandemic has been affecting both Iran and the United States for months, there is growing evidence of confrontation as America argues to extend a year-long U.S. arms embargo on Tehran, which is due to end in October. A recent incident over Syria, in which an American jet fighter approached an Iranian passenger plane, has also created renewed tension.
The exercise in a waterway through which 20% of all oil traded flows underlines the continuing danger of a military conflict between Iran and the United States.
Troops also fired rockets fired by trucks on land and speedboats at sea, as well as shoulder rockets (see figure above).
In the footage broadcast on Tuesday from the exercise "Great Prophet 14", Iranian commands were chained to the replica by a helicopter. Other shots showed fast boats circling the model and whirling white waves.
Iranian forces also fired anti-aircraft batteries at a drone target described by state television as being near the port city of Bandar Abbas. Troops also fired rockets launched by trucks on land and fast boats at sea, as well as shoulder rockets.
The guard will use "long-range ballistic missiles capable of hitting long-range floating targets from attackers during the exercise," said Abbas Nilforoushan, the guard's commanding officer for operations, according to the guard's website sepahnews.com.
Iranian forces also fired anti-aircraft batteries at a drone target described by state television as being near the port city of Bandar Abbas
This suggests that the exercise could see a replay of what happened in 2015 when the guard mocked a replica.
It was not immediately clear whether all of the footage came from Tuesday, since an overhead surveillance image that appeared to be taken by a drone bore the date of Monday.
The replica resembles the Nimitz-class carriers that the U.S. Navy routinely sails from the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the waterway, into the Persian Gulf.
The class's namesake, the USS Nimitz, only came into the Middle East from the Indian Ocean at the end of last week and is likely to replace the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Arabian Sea.
The renovated model aircraft carrier is towed by a tugboat near Bandar Abbas the day before it is used in a military exercise on the Strait of Hormuz
The model aircraft carrier built by Iran is seen in Bandar Abbas, Iran, on February 15, before setting sail
It remains unclear when or whether the Nimitz will cross the Strait of Hormuz or not during its time in the Middle East.
The USS Abraham Lincoln, which was deployed last year when tensions initially increased, spent months in the Arabian Sea before sailing through the strait. The Eisenhower came through the strait early last week.
The U.S. Navy's 5th fleet, based in Bahrain, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, a spokeswoman said on Monday that the Navy was still "confident that our naval forces could defend themselves against any threat from seafaring" after satellite photos showed that the counterfeit carrier had been put in place.
"We cannot talk about what Iran wants to gain by building this model or what tactical value it wants to achieve by using such a model in a training or practice scenario," said Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich then told The Associated Press. "We are not aiming for conflict, but we are still ready to protect US forces and interests against maritime threats in the region."
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