Iran enters next stage of aerial drill

The Iranian air force has launched the second stage of a large scale aerial maneuver to test its fighters’ gunnery and bombing tactics.

“F-14, F-4, F-5, Sukhoi-24, and Saegheh fighters displayed their offensive capabilities in tactical operations, which involved shooting at preset targets,” spokesman for the maneuver, air force pilot, Brigadier Hossein Chitforoush said on Saturday morning.

“Gunnery competitions between air force fighters and air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles are conducted on a yearly basis with the aim of raising the quality of our young pilots’ flight capabilities and testing smart bombs made by our domestic experts,” he added.

Domestically-manufactured drones, photo reconnaissance aircraft, and electronic surveillance planes were also tested during the first stage of the exercise, which was carried out throughout the country on Thursday and Friday.

Interceptor aircraft and bombers of the Islamic Republic Air Force also participated in the first two days of the aerial drill.

The Iranian maneuver, one of many conducted in the past few months, comes amid growing speculations about a possible Israeli attack against the country.

In mid-July, Israeli Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz repeated pervious threats against Iran and said Israel must be ready to take military action against the country over its nuclear program.

“All options are on the table. If there won’t be a choice other than a nuclear Iran or a military option, it’s clear what our decision has to be,” he said.

Tel Aviv claims Tehran’s nuclear program poses a threat to its security. This is while Iran’s activities have been inspected more than any other program by the UN nuclear watchdog and nothing has been found to justify Israeli concerns.

Unlike Tehran, Tel Aviv is Middle East’s sole nuclear warhead holder and one in only four regimes in the world not to have signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

In June, over 100 Israeli F-16s and F-15s took part in an aerial maneuver over the Eastern Mediterranean. According to Pentagon officials, the exercise was a rehearsal for a potential bombing of Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Since then, the US Defense Department has been installing a powerful radar system for Israel in the Negev Desert, although the US administration has apparently not given its approval for a strike against Iran.

The Pentagon has also agreed to equip the regime with the Guided Bomb Unit-39 (GBU-39), ‘bunker-buster’ bombs, which has been developed to penetrate fortified facilities located deep underground – such as Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Meanwhile, the Israeli military has also begun its own measures to prepare for an attack on Iran.

Already equipped with the Arrow and Patriot missile systems, Tel Aviv has now started developing the Iron Dome and Magic Wand systems to respectively shoot down short-range and longer-range rockets.

Meanwhile, it has not abandoned political efforts to impede Iran’s defensive capabilities.

Early in October, the then Israeli premier Ehud Olmert embarked on an unsuccessful trip to Russia hoping to dissuade Moscow from entering into a deal to sell Iran the S-300 missile defense system, which could create serious difficulties for Tel Aviv in event of an attack against Iran.