US aircraft intercepted during maneuvers
Iran, China, Russia militaries to partake in ‘Caucus 2020’ drills
The Iranian Army on Saturday ended large-scale military exercises in the Sea of Oman and parts of the Indian Ocean.
The drills, codenamed Zolfaqar-99, had begun on Thursday with forces from various units in attendance, including Iran's Ground Force, Navy, Air Force, and Air Defense, Tasnim News Agency reported.
The drills covered an area of two million square kilometers in the eastern waters of the Strait of Hormuz near the Persian Gulf, Makran coast, the Sea of Oman and the northern Indian Ocean, up to 10 degrees north.
Speaking to reporters at the conclusion of the exercises, Army Commander Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi said a broad range of homegrown equipment was utilized in the drills, including submarines, drones and missiles.
The commander said the massive drills have assured the people of Iran that the Armed Forces are fully prepared to protect the nation.
The message of the military maneuvers for ill-wishers is that they should never test the Islamic Republic of Iran and avoid miscalculations; otherwise, they would “receive a regrettable response.”
The Iranian Navy said on Friday it drove off an American aircraft that flew close to an area where the military exercises were underway, near the Strait of Hormuz, according to AFP.
US aircraft intercepted
The Iranian military said three US aircraft – a P-8 airplane, a MQ-9 drone, and an RQ-4 drone – were detected by Iran’s Air Force radars after they entered the country’s air defense identification zone, according to its website.
After “ignoring warnings by Iran’s defense systems to keep away from the drill zone,” the aircraft were tracked by an Iranian drone before “they changed course and left the zone,” it added.
On the second day of the drills, the army’s coastline missile sites fired the Qader anti-ship cruise missile, successfully destroying a mock enemy vessel over 200 kilometers from the coast, Press TV reported.
The Nasr anti-ship cruise missile was also fired from Iran’s Najm missile boat, destroying its designated target.
The Kaman-12 drone, which is the Iranian Army’s first combat drone, also conducted surveillance operations within the perimeter of the maneuvers.
During the first day of drills on Thursday, Iran’s Army units exercised amphibious offensive maneuvers accompanied by precision airstrikes, among other exercises.
Speaking on the eve of the drills, Deputy Commander of the Iranian Army Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said the exercises were designed to bolster the country’s combat preparedness and enhance the safety of regional shipping routes.
“The enemies of the Islamic Republic of Iran will have to know that in case of any strategic mistake on their behalf, Iran’s response will not be limited to the West Asia region; they will face a wide theater of combat,” he said.
Iran’s Armed Forces hold routine military exercises throughout the year. Besides this, the forces also take part in joint military exercises with other countries, especially the country’s allies.
Last year Iran, China and Russia held four days of naval drills, codenamed “Marine Security Belt,” which included tactical exercises such as rescuing frigates under attack.
The three countries have recently increased their military and diplomatic cooperation largely to counter US influence in their respective regions.
“Caucus 2020” drills
China’s Defense Ministry said on Thursday that Chinese, Iranian and Russian forces are to participate in joint military exercises in southern Russia later this month, alongside troops from Armenia, Belarus, Myanmar and Pakistan.
The “Caucus 2020” drills will focus on defensive tactics, encirclement and battlefield control and command, according to China’s Defense Ministry. The drills have special significance “at this important moment when the entire world is fighting the pandemic,” the ministry said.