image Photo: Reuters

Iran holds major aerial defense drill

The Iranian armed forces and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps have launched a major joint air defense exercise.

The drill, codenamed ‘Modafean Aseman Velayat’ (Defenders of Velayat Skies in Farsi) kicked off yesterday with a display of ground-to-air missile systems. According to the Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency, the massive drill will involve electronic warfare units and domestically-manufactured air defense systems, in maneuvers in the skies over at least half of the Islamic Republic’s territory. The drills were designed to test missile, radar and reconnaissance systems and would involve fighter jets, bombers and drones.

Video released by the Iranian West Asian News Agency showed an identified military commander ordering the start of the exercise. Images included the mounting and firing of domestic air defense missiles from armored vehicles, the launching of various drones and radar operators monitoring screens.

Iran declared 17 October 17 that it is self-reliant in its defense and has no need to go on a weapons-buying spree. “Iran’s defense doctrine is premised on strong reliance on its people and indigenous capabilities … Unconventional arms, weapons of mass destruction and a buying spree of conventional arms have no place in Iran’s defense doctrine,” claimed the country’s Foreign Ministry.

That assertation was issued just ahead of the expiration of the United Nations conventional arms embargo – over strong opposition from the U.S. and Israel.

The 2007 Security Council arms embargo expired as agreed under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal among Iran, Russia, China, Germany, Britain, France and the United States that sought to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons in return for economic sanctions relief.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018 and re-imposed a series of punitive economic measures, including the U.N. arms ban, over allegations that Iran violated terms of the nuclear deal.