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Iran set to hold large-scale war games with air defense drills

RIA Novosti [1]
Sunday, Sept 7, 2008

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and armed forces will begin on Monday a three-day military exercise to test new weaponry and practice repelling potential air strikes on its territory, the local media said on Sunday.

“The main goal of the exercise is to evaluate the combat readiness [of the Iranian army], to test new weapons developed by Iranian scientists, and to practice defensive measures in case of a potential violation of the Iranian airspace by the enemy,” the media said.

International media have recently carried reports about a possible military attack by Israel and the United States on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Iran has reacted to rumors of an imminent attack by Israel or the U.S. by promising to deliver a “powerful blow” to any aggressor.

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According to military experts Iran has relatively modest air defenses, which were recently strengthened with a delivery of 29 Russian-made Tor-M1 air defense missile systems under a $700-million contract signed in late 2005. Russia has also trained Iranian Tor-M1 specialists, including radar operators and crew commanders.

Iran also successfully launched in July an upgraded Shahab-3 ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 km (1,240 miles) and several missiles with a range of 350 kilometers (217 miles) as part of the Great Prophet III military exercise in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, drawing a new wave of international criticism.

Iran is currently under three sets of relatively mild UN Security Council sanctions for defying demands to halt uranium enrichment, which it says it needs purely for electricity generation despite Western accusations that the program is geared toward weapon production.