Tehran: Iran’s navy said on Monday it test-fired a range of weapons during ongoing manoeuvres near the Strait of Hormuz, the passageway for one-fifth of the world’s oil supply. IRNA quoted Admiral Amir Rastgari, spokesman for the exercise, as saying the Iranian-made air defence system Raad, or Thunder, was among the weapons tested, along with various torpedoes and underwater and surface-to-surface rockets as well as anti-ship missiles.
The Islamic Republic said it also deployed domestically-made hovercraft during the operation. The Raad system was on show during a military parade in Tehran in September for the first time. Iran says is more advanced than its Russian predecessor and is designed to confront fighter jets, cruise missiles, smart bombs, helicopters and drones. Iran said the system fires missiles with a range of 50km, capable of hitting targets at 22,000 meters. Tehran has tried to build a self-sufficient military program since 1992.
It frequently announces technological breakthroughs, most of which cannot be confirmed independently. Iran’s military leaders have recently said they believe future wars will be air- and sea-based and Tehran has sought to upgrade its air defence systems and naval power in anticipation of such a possibility. The drill began on Friday and ends on Wednesday, one of a number of exercises Iran holds annually.
The manoeuvres come as the West increases its pressure over Iran’s nuclear programme. Iran has said in the past it might close the strait over Western sanctions or military threats against its nuclear facilities, but has stepped back from those threats in recent months. Both the US and Israel have not ruled out a military strike against Iran’s nuclear programme, which the West believes is aimed at weapons development. Iran denies the charge, insisting its nuclear programme is only for peaceful purposes like power generation and cancer treatment.