The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) tested long-range missiles and drones against land and sea targets in Iran’s fourth large-scale military show of force in two weeks amid tensions with the United States.
The IRGC on Saturday fired long-range ballistic missiles that travelled 1,800km and struck artificial targets in the northern part of the Indian Ocean.
“Choosing a plethora of long-range missiles to hit sea targets shows that if the enemies of the Islamic republic harbour any ill will toward our national interests, maritime trade routes or our land, they will be targeted and destroyed by missiles,” said Mohammad Bagheri, chief of staff of the armed forces.
“We have no intention for any aggression, but we announce with this drill that any aggressors to our country will be attacked with full force and in the shortest time.”
IRGC commander-in-chief Hossein Salami said on Saturday one of the elite military organisation’s goals is to be able to target “enemy war vessels” including aircraft carriers.
Watch #Iran kick off 1st phase of 'Great Prophet 15' drills
New gen of missiles equipped with separable warhead & 10 times shorter prep time, on twin-arm missile launchers were put to test as well as unmanned bomber aircraft & loitering munitions, utilizing Al for first time. pic.twitter.com/oyeqVbcwGF
— Iran Military (@Iran_Military) January 15, 2021
Iran: The IRGC today held an unannounced missile & drone drill pic.twitter.com/puF4B4OqFP
— Amichai Stein (@AmichaiStein1) January 15, 2021
On Friday, the IRGC fired dozens of “next-generation” missiles from an undisclosed location in desert areas in central Iran that were shown in videos aired by state broadcasting to hit their land targets.
“This is the roaring sound of a large number of IRGC ballistic missiles, which have this time been equipped with detachable warheads and can be guided outside the Earth’s atmosphere,” a state broadcast reporter said as a barrage of missiles was launched behind him.
Shortly after, the IRGC also tested loitering munitions, or “suicide drones”, that were shown to hit a variety of land targets.
The fourth show of Iranian military force in the new year, the IRGC drill comes after two months of renewed tensions with the outgoing US President Donald Trump administration around the January 3 anniversary of the assassination of Iran’s top general by the United States.
Qassem Soleimani, who led the foreign operations arm of the IRGC, was killed in a Trump-ordered drone strike in Baghdad last year.
In the past two months, the US has flown nuclear-capable strategic bombers over the Middle East and has stationed an aircraft carrier in the region to “deter” a potential Iranian response.