Iran debuted a domestically constructed submarine as well as a new destroyer Friday as part of a 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.
The three-day annual navy drill began Friday in a vast area of the Gulf and the Indian Ocean that includes a sensitive global shipping route, state TV reported.
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.
The strait at the mouth of the Gulf is crucial to global energy supplies, with about a third of the world’s seaborne oil passing through it every day.
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.
The Strait of Hormuz is an international transit route where American forces routinely pass and which has seen tense encounters between them and Iranian forces in the past.
Dubbed as “Velayat 97,” the drill will showcase Iran’s submarines, warships, helicopters and drones, according to the admiral.