Iran has launched a cruise missile from a submarine for the first time during an ongoing annual military drill in the Strait of Hormuz, Iranian media reported Sunday.
The semi-official Fars news agency reported the launch and released an image showing a green submarine on the surface of the water launching an orange missile. It said other submarines have the same capability. It did not detail the missile’s range.
Iran debuted a domestically constructed submarine as well as a new destroyer Friday as part of the large-scale three-day naval drill in the Persian Gulf, state media reported.
Tehran had announced the launch of the Fateh submarine (Farsi for “Conqueror”) earlier this month. It said Fateh was the country’s first submarine in the semi-heavy category, and the first capable of firing cruise missiles.
The Sahand destroyer has a helicopter landing pad, is 96 meters (105 yards) long and can cruise at 25 knots. It is equipped with surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles as well as anti-aircraft batteries and sophisticated radar and radar evading capabilities, according to a report on state TV.
Navy chief Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi said “The exercise will cover confronting a range of threats, testing weapons, and evaluating the readiness of equipment and personnel,” in remarks on state television translated by Reuters.
“Submarine missile launches will be carried out… in addition to helicopter and drone launches from the deck of the Sahand destroyer,” he said.
The exercise aims to evaluate the navy’s equipment, practice launching weapons and “enable the troops to gain readiness for a real battle,” he added.
Iran frequently touts its military arsenal, much of which is manufactured locally because of international sanctions. The Strait of Hormuz, at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, is a crucial bottleneck for global energy supplies, with about a third of all oil traded by sea passing through it.
Submarines, warships, helicopters and surveillance planes participated in the three-day drill, dubbed “Velayat-97,” which concludes later Sunday. On Saturday, Iran launched surface-to-surface missiles.
The show of military might comes at a time of heightened tensions with Iran’s main regional rival Saudi Arabia and with Washington, which last year withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
American forces routinely pass through the Strait of Hormuz, which has seen tense encounters between them and Iranian forces in the past.