Iran's Army and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) kicked off large-scale air defense exercises in a number of regions across the country on February 28.
The Iranian Army's Air Force and the IRGC are holding the military exercise, codenamed “Modafean Aseman-e Velayat 1401” (The Defenders of Velayat Skies 1401), involving air defense units and domestically developed military hardware, under the command and guidance of the Khatam al-Anbia Air Defense Base, according to the Fars News Agency.
"The objectives of the military exercises are to bolster defense against enemy threats to the country’s skies and comprehensive defense of sensitive and vital locations of the country," Spokesman of the drills, Second Brigadier General Amir Abbas Farajpour announced.
He said that the electronic and cyber systems were tested for attack and counter-attack operations. The air defense units used drones to detect and take control of adversary jamming drones.
The domestically developed anti-aircraft systems Khordad 15 (Panzdah-e Khordad) and Khordad 3 (Sevom-e Khordad), in addition to the missile air defense systems Dezful and Majid, were used on the first day of the exercise.
During the main stage of the drills at night, the Iranian air defense forces employed tactics to protect the country’s sensitive military and nuclear sites, such as the Fordow nuclear facility. The military exercise covers two-thirds of the Iranian airspace over an area of more than one million square kilometers.
The underground tunnels were also unveiled during the drills on February 28. The IRGC’s Air Force published photos of its underground tunnels where the “Khordad 3" air defense missile systems are held.
On February 27, Brigadier-General Qader Rahimzadeh, Commander of the Khatam al-Anbia Air Defense Base, which is the central headquarters of Iran’s Air Defense, unveiled plans to display a series of air defense systems. These are kept in underground tunnels, raised when needed, and returned to the earlier position later.
The Air Force unveiled its first underground military base on February 7. The tactical subterranean airbase named Oghab-44 (Eagle-44) can accommodate and prepare various aircraft – including fighter jets, bombers, and unmanned aerial vehicles – for missions.
This large underground base consists of various sections, such as an alert area, command post, warplane hangars, repair and maintenance center, navigation and airport equipment, and fuel tanks.
The drills come days after reports of explosions in Karaj late on February 23 accompanied by a video showing air defense projectiles lighting up the night sky, which fuelled speculations of a potential attack on a military site. Air defense systems was activated as part of an exercise involving the paramilitary Basij volunteer force, according to Tasnim.
On January 28, a military workshop in the central city of Isfahan was attacked by three small drones. Iran blamed Israel for the attack, describing it as "unsuccessful", and vowed to retaliate.