The Iranian Army’s 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, according to Iran’s Tasnim news agency.
This large underground base consists of various sections, such as an alert area, command post, warplane hangars, repair and maintenance centre, navigation and airport equipment, and fuel tanks.
Oghab-44 is one of the several tactical underground bases of the Air Force that has been constructed across Iran in recent years. These bases are located under the mountainous areas so that they can be used for sudden aerial operations in the spots and at times that the enemies would not expect. The underground bases accommodate the fighter jets in safe locations and furnish the planes with electronic warfare systems and various bombs and missiles, including Yasin, Qaem and Asef, which allow for standoff aerial operations and extend the strategic range of attacks against remote targets.
Addressing the unveiling ceremony of the base on February 7, Iran’s Army Commander Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi said that “based on threats and type of missions, our equipment has been upgraded from tactical to strategic,” and added that the Army’s underground bases will be equipped with new fighter jets in the future.
On the same day, the Iranian Air Force unveiled a homegrown long-range missile installed on the Sukhoi Su-24 tactical bombers. The “Asef” air-launched long-range cruise missile is manufactured by Iranian military experts. Asef has a warhead with great explosive and destructive power that can annihilate heavy equipment and structures.
Iran is ranked 17th among 145 countries in terms of military power, according to Global Firepower’s 2023 rankings. The Islamic Republic has developed a defense program over the past decades, and now it produces various types of weapons, military equipment and drones domestically and plans to increase military exports. The recent years’ developments indicate that the Air Force is planning to build subterranean bases across Iran.
Iran opened a drone factory in Tajikistan in May 2022 to produce Ababil-2, a surveillance drone with an operational range of 100km.
In March 2022, Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force for the first time revealed two underground missile and drone bases built in the heart of high mountains. These tunnel bases are home to surface-to-surface missile systems with advanced equipment and offensive drones that can penetrate the radar and defense network systems. In addition, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) with a range of 2,000 kilometers, dual-missile launchers, and multiple-UAV launchers are present at these bases.
Amid overwhelming reports that Moscow is using Iranian drones in Ukraine, Tehran denies supplying the arms “to be used in the war,” but has admitted the supply of a “limited number” of drones months before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
On February 7, 2023, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kanani rejected the report by the Wall Street Journal, which says that Iran and Russia were moving ahead with plans for a new factory that could make “at least 6,000 Iranian-designed drones.” Kanani criticised the western countries that “export weapons and military equipment to one side of the war,” referring to Ukraine, and accused them of creating “fake news.” He described such countries as “arms exporters and extenders of wars,” adding that Iran was not a party to the Russia-Ukraine war.