Iran’s paramilitary revolutionary guard fired a missile from a helicopter aimed at replicating an American aircraft carrier in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, state television reported on Tuesday, an exercise aimed at threatening the United States amid tensions between Tehran and Washington.
Named the “Prophet Muhammad 14”, the exercises took place near the Strait of Hormuz, a vital lane for one-fifth of world oil production.
Footage of the war games, which is broadcast on state television, shows the Air Force and Navy preparing for an attack off the country’s southwest coast.
Speedboats jumped through the water in the formation before ground forces fired cannons, and the rocket was launched from a helicopter, leaving a trail of smoke before it was found to hit a counterfeit warship.
The Iranian naval maneuver was conducted at a time of heightened tensions between Iran and the United States.
The U.S. Navy has condemned Iran’s “irresponsible and reckless behavior,” calling it an attempt to “intimidate and coerce.”
The US Navy’s 5th Navy, based in the Gulf of Bahrain, has also criticized Iran’s use of the aircraft carrier’s replica.
“We are aware of an Iranian exercise involving an attack on a mock-up of a ship resembling a stationary aircraft carrier,” its spokeswoman, Commander Rebecca Rebaric, said in a statement sent to AFP on Tuesday.
“The US Navy is conducting defense exercises with our maritime security partners to support freedom of navigation; while Iran is conducting offensive exercises in an attempt to intimidate and coerce.”
Although the coronavirus pandemic has spread to Iran and the United States for months, there are growing signs of confrontation as the United States proves the continuation of the long-standing UN arms embargo on Tehran, which is due to end in October.
The military games came just days after Tehran accused American fighters of harassing an Iranian commercial airliner over Syria.
At least four passengers on board the Mahan Air were injured in an incident Thursday after the pilot took emergency measures to avoid fighter jets, Iranian authorities said.
Tensions have escalated between Tehran and Washington after US President Donald Trump unilaterally renounced Iran’s landmark nuclear deal in 2018.
The two countries have twice been on the verge of direct confrontation since June 2019, when the guards shot down an American drone in the Gulf.
Their enmity deepened after Iran’s top general, Qassem Soleimani, was assassinated in the United States. drone strike near Baghdad airport in January.
One of the latest confrontations was in mid-April, when the United States accused the Guard of using boats to bait its warships in the Persian Gulf.