Iran’s Revolutionary Guards blasted a mock-up of a US aircraft carrier with missiles on Tuesday during military exercises in sensitive Gulf waters, state television said. The exercises — dubbed “Prophet Mohammed 14th” — were held near the Strait of Hormuz, a vital shipping lane for a fifth of global oil output.
They were staged at a time of heightened tensions between Iran and its decades-old archenemy the United States.
The United States Navy criticized Iran as “irresponsible and reckless” for conducting the exercise.
“We are aware of the Iranian exercise involving attacking a mock-up of a vessel similar to a motionless aircraft carrier,” US Fifth Fleet spokeswoman Rebecca Rebarich told AFP.
“While we are always watchful of this type of irresponsible and reckless behavior by Iran in the vicinity of busy international waterways, this exercise has not disrupted coalition operations in the area nor had any impacts to the free flow of commerce in the Strait of Hormuz and surrounding waters.”
Footage of the war games broadcasted on state television showed the Guards’ air and naval forces readying for an attack off of the country’s southwest coast. Speedboats skimmed across the water in formation before ground forces fired cannons and a missile was launched from a helicopter.
The broadcast panned over a mock-up of an American-style Nimitz aircraft carrier complete with rows of dummy fighter jets on its landing strip. The television then cut to rockets being fired out to sea from the backs of trucks, before showing damage to the hull of the mock-up aircraft carrier.
Another missile fired from a helicopter left a trail of smoke before appearing to smash into the side of the fake warship. Armed forces were then seen rappelling onto the deck of the vessel, before around a dozen speedboats circle around it.
“What was shown today in these exercises, at the level of aerospace and naval forces, was all offensive,” Guards commander Major General Hossein Salami told state television.
The Revolutionary Guards have used dummy American warships in training exercises before, including in 2015 when Iranian missiles hit another Nimitz-class carrier.
The war games come only days after Tehran accused US fighter jets of harassing an Iranian commercial airliner in the skies over Syria. At least four passengers on board the Mahan Airplane were injured in Thursday’s incident after the pilot took emergency action to avoid the warplanes.
The arch-foes have come to the brink of war twice since June 2019, when the Guards shot down a US drone in the Gulf. Their animosity deepened after Iran’s most prominent general, Qassem Soleimani, was killed in a US drone strike near Baghdad airport in January.
One of the most recent confrontations was in mid-April when the United States accused the Guards of using speedboats to harass its warships in the Gulf.