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Iranian Naval Exercises 'Designed To Show Military Might'

Iran's first domestically made destroyer, the "Jamaran," will take part in the exercises.
Iran's first domestically made destroyer, the "Jamaran," will take part in the exercises.
The Iranian Navy has begun eight days of war games in the Straight of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman in an attempt to demonstrate its military strength, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, the navy's commander, told the semi-official Fars news agency that the exercises are intended to show Iran's "might."

He added that the maneuvers show the country's ability to defend its interests in the Gulf of Oman and into the Indian Ocean.

But naval experts question whether Iran intends to expand its navy into a real "blue-water" force, as its naval forces are oriented primarily toward coastal operations.

The latest exercises, code-named Velayat 89, are the navy's annual war games. These exercises are being held less than two weeks after Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) staged highly publicized naval maneuvers in the Persian Gulf.

Iran's naval forces are divided into two distinct branches. The IRGC is responsible for naval operations in the Persian Gulf and generally uses speedboats and fast attack craft.

The regular navy is tasked with naval operations outside the Strait of Hormuz and into the Indian Ocean. It employs larger surface ships and submarines.

The exercises are being directed from the Jask naval base. This will be the first time Iran's annual naval maneuvers are coordinated from Jask, a two-year-old base east of the Strait of Hormuz.

The exercises will be carried out in six phases in an area of 250,000 square kilometers with the participation of ships, submarines, helicopters, and aircraft. During the final phases new missiles and torpedoes are due to be test-fired.

Iran has invested more heavily in missiles than in ships, since the former offer greater firepower at less expense. Nevertheless, Iran's first domestically built destroyer, the "Jamaran," is expected to take part in the exercises.

Much of Iran's navy is seriously outdated and lacks spare parts. Some ships are more than 40-years old and were built in the United States and Britain before Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution.