Iranian and Russian military vessels have conducted the first stage of their naval maneuvers in the Sea of Oman and the northern part of the Indian Ocean by unleashing fire on designated targets and squaring up in offensive formations in light of regional threats.
Tuesday marked the first day of the two-day drills, codenamed Maritime Security Belt, that bears a message of “peace and friendship” for the regional nations and sports the slogan “collective cooperation at sea towards securing naval trade.”
The event covers a 17,000-kilometer (10,563-mile)-wide maritime expanse. It enlists naval units from Iran’s Navy and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy together with their backup squadrons as well as a Russian flotilla comprising the Stoiky corvette, the KoLa refueling ship, and a support helicopter gunship.
According to the maneuvers’ spokesman, Rear Admiral Gholamreza Tahani Iran’s fully-indigenous Jamaran destroyer served as the flagship during the drill, which also saw the other Iranian vessels and the Russian warship firing at the targets that were floating above the sea level.
Subsequently during the first stage, the countries’ vessels practiced aligning themselves in battle-ready positions considering perceivable sources of regional threat, he added.
The Iranian gunships would, meanwhile, keep the drill area under constant surveillance.
According to the official, “The goal that is sought by holding this exercise is reinforcement of security and its fundamentals in the region and expansion of bilateral cooperation between the countries.”
India fields destroyer, China to join drills
Also on Tuesday, India submitted a request to participate in the naval exercise, Tahani announced, saying the request was welcomed by relevant authorities leading to New Delhi’s dispatch of its Delta destroyer into the event.
The Indian vessel would accordingly be trusted with undertaking some of the naval operations that have been planned for the drills, he added.
Tahani said “the interesting nature” of the Russo-Iranian exercise had encouraged New Delhi to submit the request, adding that the drills, in turn, managed to incorporate the Indian vessel due to their flexible nature.
Hossein Khanzadi, commander of the Iranian Navy, said the Chinese naval forces will also participate in the drill. Iran, Russia and China had held similar exercises in 2019.
Iran’s Army and the IRGC have conducted several drills in the past two months, in a show of power amid tensions with the United States.
These exercises saw a variety of locally manufactured long-range missiles, drones, tanks, warships, submarines and helicopters tested on land, sea and air targets.