Iran fired missiles at a replica US aircraft carrier in the Strait of Hormuz in an attempt to show off its military

  • Iran's Revolutionary Guard fired missiles at a replica of a US aircraft carrier in the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to multiple reports.
  • The exercise also saw fast boats circling the vessel and commandos fast-roping down from a helicopter, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
  • It was framed by a top general as a display of power, according to the BBC. It comes amid ongoing tensions between the US and Iran.
  • Iran's navy is no match for the US in conventional terms, but exercises like these are meant to show how it would attempt to combat a more sophisticated and heavily-armed foe.
  • Two US military bases in the region were set on alert during the exercise, but only for "a matter of minutes," a spokesperson told Reuters.
  • The Strait of Hormuz is a crucial channel for the world's oil supply.
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Iran's Revolutionary Guard fired missiles at a replica of a US aircraft carrier in the Strait of Hormuz, in images broadcast on state TV Tuesday and Wednesday, the Associated Press (AP) reported. 

In the footage, fast boats circled the replica and commandos fast-roped onto it from a helicopter, the AP reported.

State footage showed missles being fired from fast boats, trucks, mobile launchers and a helicopter, some of which targeted the replica vessel, according to the agency. It also showed anti-aircraft guns shooting at a target drone, the AP reported.

A state TV report said that drones also targeted the replica ship's bridge, although images of these were not broadcast, according to AP.

The display was an apparent demonstration of how Iran's relatively poorly-equipped sea forces would attempt to take on a US carrier. Iran has not carriers of its own, and relies of large groups of small, low-tech craft.

Major General Hossein Salami of the Revolutionary Guard told state TV: "What was shown today in these exercises, at the level of aerospace and naval forces, was all offensive," according to the BBC. 

The exercise, dubbed "Great Prophet 14," briefly put two US bases in the region on alert, according to the AP. 

The replica vessel was moved from its base in the port city of Bandar Abbas into the Strait on Monday, according to the AP. 

High tensions between the US and Iran

The exercises, described by Reuters as part of an annual set of drills, come amid long-running tensions between the US and Iran.

The US seeks to extend a UN weapons embargo on Iran that is due to expire in October. Iran vowed to avenge the US killing by drone strike of top Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in January.

The Trump administration said Soleimani posed an "imminent" threat to US lives, but the killing was considered illegal under international law by a top UN investigator. Iran already retaliated with a dozen ballistic missiles that injured some US troops. 

US troops set on alert

The US military said that during the exercises its troops were put on alert and sought cover in Al-Dhafra Air Base in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, and Al-Udeid Air Base, in Qatar, the AP reported.

In a statement, the US military said that the all-clear was declared in "a matter of minutes," according to Reuters.

Commander Rebecca Rebarich, spokesperson for the US Navy's Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain, criticized the exercise, according to the BBC. 

"The US 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," the outlet reported her as saying. 

She called the exercise "irresponsible and reckless" but said it had had no impact on the military or on the commercial traffic in the Strait of Hormuz, according to Reuters.

The strait is one of the most crucial channels for transporting the world's oil supply. 

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