Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) recently set up a replica of a U.S. Nimitz-class aircraft carrier in the Strait of Hormuz and used it as a target for missile attacks and swarming tactics. The U.S. Navy, however, was less than impressed with the show of force and joked about it in a Tuesday Instagram post.
“Iran builds target ship,” the Navy’s photo caption began. “They’re experts at that.”
View this post on Instagram
The Instagram post has garnered over 74,000 likes and 2,000 comments
“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, a spokesperson for the U.S. Fifth Fleet overseeing the Middle East said in a statement to The Associated Press. “We do not seek conflict, but remain ready to defend U.S. forces and interests from the maritime threats in the region.”
On Tuesday, Iran attacked the replica aircraft carrier, landing troops by helicopter on the fake ship’s deck and later attacking the ship with missiles fired from its various swarm boats and land-based missile launchers.
“Our policies to protect the vital interests of the dear nation of Iran are defensive, in the sense that we will not invade any country from the beginning, but we are completely aggressive in tactics and operations,” said Gen. Hossein Salami, head of the IRGC, according to the IRGC’s official website. “What was shown today at this exercise at the level of aerospace and naval forces was all offensive.”
The Iranian missile attack drills did prompt the U.S. military to put two bases – Udeid Air Base and Al Dhafra Air Base – on temporarily heightened alert. Both bases are located several hundred miles away from the Strait.
“The incident lasted for a matter of minutes and an all clear was declared after the threat … had passed,” U.S. Army Maj. Beth Riordan, a Central Command spokeswoman, told the Associated Press.
Rebarich also said the drill exhibited “irresponsible and reckless behavior” but did not disrupt coalition operations or the free flow of commerce through the strategically valuable Strait.
The U.S. Navy has 11 nuclear powered carriers as well as nine amphibious assault ships capable of launching helicopters and Vertical/Short Take-Off and Landing (V/STOL) aircraft like the F-35 joint strike fighter. According to the Navy, a U.S. carrier group also includes six to 10 other warships including cruisers, destroyers and frigates. By comparison, Iran has no aircraft carriers and relies on its fleet of small missile boats to carry out swarm boat attacks.