TEHRAN—Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard fired a missile from a helicopter targeting a replica aircraft carrier in the strategic Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday, state television reported, an exercise aimed at threatening the U.S. amid tensions between Tehran and Washington.
Iranian commandos also fast-roped down from a helicopter onto the replica in the footage from an exercise called “Great Prophet 14.” Other footage showed a helicopter firing a missile at the replica, complete with 16 fake fighter jets on board, while fast boats encircled the vessel, kicking up white wave in their wake.
Iranian troops also fired anti-aircraft batteries as a drone target in the exercise from a location state television described as being near the port city of Bandar Abbas.
The replica resembles the Nimitz-class carriers that the U.S. Navy routinely sails into the Persian Gulf from the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the waterway. The USS Nimitz, the namesake of the class, just entered Mideast waters late last week from the Indian Ocean, likely to replace the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Arabian Sea.
It remains unclear when or if the Nimitz will pass through the Strait of Hormuz or not during its time in the Mideast. The USS Abraham Lincoln, deployed last year as tensions initially spiked, spent months in the Arabian Sea before heading through the strait. The Eisenhower came through the strait early last week.
The U.S. Navy’s Bahrain-based 5th Fleet did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, on Monday a spokeswoman said the Navy remains “confident in our naval forces’ ability to defend themselves against any maritime threat” after satellite photos showed the fake carrier being moved into place.
“We cannot speak to what Iran hopes to gain by building this mock-up, or what tactical value they would hope to gain by using such a mock-up in a training or exercise scenario,” Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich told The Associated Press then. “We do not seek conflict, but remain ready to defend U.S. forces and interests from maritime threats in the region.”
By Amir Vahdat and Jon Gambrell