Last Updated: Sun Oct 17, 2010 00:27 am (KSA) 21:27 pm (GMT)

Iran Guards begin drill on anniversary day

Iranian boats take part in naval war game in the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz
Iranian boats take part in naval war game in the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz

Iran's Revolutionary Guards began a three-day military drill Thursday as the elite force marked the 31st anniversary of its inception by revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979.

"The military exercise named Prophet V has started," state-owned Arabic language al-Alam Television reported without elaborating.

 The radar-evading, high-speed Ya Mahdi vessel is able to track and target the enemy's surface vessels in a smart way and destroy them 
State broadcaster IRIB

On Wednesday, Guards deputy commander Brigadier General Hossein Salami said the drill would include testing of home-built missiles.

State broadcaster IRIB said the Guard has put into operation for the first time a speed boat capable of destroying enemy ships.

"The radar-evading, high-speed Ya Mahdi vessel is able to track and target the enemy's surface vessels in a smart way and destroy them," it said, adding it was now being mass produced.

A spokesman for the maneuvers, Ali-Reza Tangsiri, said Ya Mahdi was a remote-controlled vessel whose missiles could blow 7-meter holes in any enemy ship.

High-speed vessels

The ILNA news agency said more than 300 various high-speed vessels took part in the drill, equipped with missiles and rockets and carrying Guards commandos.

"These vessels are regarded as the enemy's nightmare," ILNA said.

Western military analysts say Iran may resort to "asymmetric warfare" if it comes under attack, for example by deploying swarms of speed boats to disrupt enemy operations in the Gulf.

The exercise will see ground, air and naval units of the Guards participating and is aimed at "preserving the security of Gulf, Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman," Salami said.

The Strait of Hormuz is a narrow, strategically important waterway between the Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Nearly 40 percent of world's seaborne oil shipments pass through this waterway.

Iran regularly conducts such military drills to promote its defense capabilities. Its military officials have previously warned that if Tehran was attacked, their forces would hit back by blocking the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran's missile program has caused deep concern in the West, which is already at loggerheads with Tehran over its controversial nuclear program.

The Revolutionary Guards were set up by Khomeini in the wake of the 1979 Islamic revolution to defend the Islamic republic from internal and external threats.

It is one of Iran's most powerful institutions and under direct command of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who succeeded Khomeini as the nation's all-powerful supreme leader.

Uganda

Meanwhile, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad left Thursday for a two-day visit to Zimbabwe and to U.N. Security Council member Uganda, with whom he will discuss Iran's nuclear program, state television reported.

Ahmadinejad's visit to Uganda gains significance as world powers have stepped up pressure for a new round of U.N. sanctions against Iran for pursuing its nuclear program.

The report gave no details of the Zimbabwe leg of the trip but said the Iranian hardliner would hold talks on Friday with Ugandan officials, including President Yoweri Museveni, in Kampala.

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