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Iran Conducts Military Exercise With Mock U.S. Aircraft Carrier In Persian Gulf

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Iran's refurbished mockup aircraft carrier, used previously as a simulated U.S. target during a February 2015 naval exercise, is seen at its home port of Bandar Abbas in February.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has fired a missile from a helicopter targeting a mock U.S. aircraft carrier during military exercises in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, local media reported.

Footage of the drills broadcast on state television on July 28 showed the missile fired from a helicopter leaving a trail of smoke before appearing to smash into the side of the fake warship.

Other footage from the exercise dubbed Payambar-e Azam 14 (The Great Prophet) showed speedboats encircling the replica, commandos rappelling onto the deck of the vessel, and scuba forces underwater.

Antiaircraft batteries were seen firing from a location that the report described as being near the port city of Bandar Abbas.

Land-based trucks also launched missiles and troops used shoulder-fired missiles.

The U.S. Navy condemned the "irresponsible and reckless behavior by Iran,” calling it an attempt "to intimidate and coerce."

The military exercise comes a day after satellite images provided by U.S.-based space technology firm Maxar Technologies showed Iran placed the replica of a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Strait of Hormuz.

Tehran, which opposes the presence of U.S. and Western navies in the Gulf, frequently holds naval war games in the strategic strait, through which 20 percent of all traded oil passes.

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have been on the rise since 2018, when the United States withdrew from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and reimposed crippling sanctions that have battered the Iranian economy.

In addition, IRGC and U.S. forces have had several incidents with Washington accusing the Iranians of harassing American warships as they pass the waterway.

The U.S. Navy 5th Fleet, which is based in the Gulf state of Bahrain, said it was “aware of the Iranian exercise involving attacking a mock-up of a vessel similar to a motionless aircraft carrier."

The U.S. Navy “conducts defensive exercises with our partners promoting maritime security in support of freedom of navigation; whereas, Iran conducts offensive exercises, attempting to intimidate and coerce,” spokeswoman Commander Rebecca Rebarich said in a statement.

"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," the statement said.

The USS Nimitz aircraft carrier entered Middle Eastern waters last week and is expected to replace the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Arabian Sea. It remained unclear whether the Nimitz will pass through the Strait of Hormuz during its time in the region.

With reporting by AFP and AP
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