A mock up of a U.S. Nimitz-class aircraft carrier has appeared in the waters off the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas, as tensions with U.S. Navy warships near the Persian Gulf have risen in recent weeks.
Satellite images obtained by The Associated Press Tuesday show the model of the U.S. style aircraft carrier, complete with 16 mock up fighter jets on the deck. The model carrier measures in at about 200 meters (650 feet) long and 50 meters (160 feet) wide, while a real Nimitz class carrier is about 300 meters (980 feet) long and 75 meters (245 feet) wide.
As tensions remain high between Iran and the U.S., the Islamic Republic appears to have constructed a new mock-up of an aircraft carrier off its southern coast for potential live-fire drills. The faux foe was seen in satellite photographs obtained by @AP. https://t.co/lio6w18Qpp
— The Associated Press (@AP) June 9, 2020
Iranian officials have not yet acknowledged the existence of the mock up aircraft carrier, but the model appears similar in design and purpose to another mock up aircraft carrier created for target practice in 2015. The February 2015 “Great Prophet 9” war game saw Iran’s paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) speedboats swarm at the mock up while firing machine guns and rockets. The model carrier was then sank by surface-to-sea missiles.
“American aircraft carriers are very big ammunition depots housing a lot of missiles, rockets, torpedoes and everything else,” the IRGC’s then-navy chief Adm. Ali Fadavi, said on state television at the time of the 2015 war game.
The model carrier is currently positioned just offshore from the same port parking lot where it unveiled 112 new speedboats. Those new boats were described as missile boats and fast attack craft. The proximity between the mock up and the newly announced speedboats further suggests the fake aircraft carrier is destined to come under heavy Iranian rocket and machine-gun fire.
U.S. and Iranian vessels have had increasing contact in the Persian Gulf and the narrow Strait of Hormuz, from which 20 percent of the world’s oil supply passes.
In April, 11 Iranian speedboats swarmed around six U.S. warships, forcing the U.S. ships to maneuver to avoid collisions. A week after the incident, President Donald Trump threatened the U.S. would destroy any Iranian vessells sent to harass U.S. warships.
“I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea,” Trump tweeted.
I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 22, 2020
Iran has been increasingly carrying out seaborn target practice following the exchange between U.S. and Iranian ships as well as Trump’s threatening remarks.
In May an Iranian warship was struck in a friendly fire incident during a naval target practice exercise. At least 19 Iranian sailors were killed and another 15 were reported injured.