The Iranian Army’s air defense force has tested its new missile system during the “Guardians of Velayat Sky-1400” annual joint air defense exercises held in central Iran.
“Following the main phase of the exercise, the Joshan and Khatam indigenous air defense systems of Army’s Air Defense Forces destroyed hostile targets that intended to infiltrate the exercise area at low altitude,” the commander of the Khatam al-Anbia Joint Air Defence Base, Brigadier General Qader Rahimzadeh told reporters on October 13.
Joshan is an “improved version” of the Khordad 15 missile system equipped with a passive radar system. At the same time, Rahimzadeh did not reveal any information about the Khatam missile system.
Following the first day of the drills, the general said the military had “successfully” carried out exercises against electronic warfare and cyber-attacks targeting air defense systems. He also added that the war game aims to increase the combat readiness of units, create deterrence, assess domestic air defense systems to combat various threats from different fronts, and improve operational and technical personnel’s level of knowledge and skills.
The homegrown long-range pulse-array radar Quds developed by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force came into operation during the drills on October 13. The radar system can detect targets at a range of above 500 kilometers and altitudes of over 90,000 feet.
The two-day joint air defense exercise of the Army’s air force and air defense units, as well as the IRGC’s airspace division, which covers half of Iran’s airspace, ended on October 13. The areas involved in the drills included the provinces of Semnan and Yazd.
The recent war game followed a large-scale military exercise launched by Iran in late September. It involved armored units, artillery, drones, electronic warfare units, and helicopters near Iran’s border with Azerbaijan. Iran’s military drills in border areas with Azerbaijan increased tensions between the two neighboring Caspian littoral states.
Azerbaijan's President Aliyev said the military drills along the Iran-Azerbaijan state border were “surprising.”
“This issue is very surprising because there were no such developments in the 30-year period of independence. First of all, I must say that any country can conduct military exercises on its territory. It is of course its sovereign right. At the same time, analyzing this in terms of timeline, we see that this has not happened before. Why now? Why exactly on our border?” President Aliyev said on September 28.
Tehran's allegations that Baku accommodated Israeli “presence” near Iran’s borders also aggravated the situation. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has described Iran's allegations about the presence of the Israeli forces in the country's territories as “baseless”.
Meanwhile, Iran’s military maneuvres and allegations came after measures taken by Baku to stop illegal trips of Iranian lorries to certain parts of Azerbaijan’s Karabakh (Garabagh) region, where the Russian peacekeeping forces are temporarily deployed.
On August 11, Iran’s ambassador to Azerbaijan received a Note Verbal from the foreign ministry in addition to an earlier verbal notification about Baku’s dissatisfaction with the illegal transit of goods to the Karabakh region.
However, the verbal notification and Note Verbal were ineffective in settling the controversy. Around 60 Iranian trucks illegally traveled to the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan from August 11 to September 11. The trucks moved from Iran to Armenia, then to the Karabakh region via the Lachin corridor.
Later, some media reported that Azerbaijan’s customs officials began imposing road tax on Iranian truck drivers on the Azerbaijani part of the interstate Gorus-Gafan highway. On September 13, Azerbaijan’s State Customs Committee said in a statement that vehicles of foreign countries are subjected to road tax when entering and leaving the country under the legislation.