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Iran Air Force to hold large-scale Devotees of Velayat Sanctuary-10 drills

In this file picture, fighter jets operated by the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) are put on display on November 1, 2020, before the launch of Fada’eeyan-e Harim-e Velayat-9 (Devotees of the Velayat Sanctuary-9), aerial drills. (Photo by DEFA Press news agency)

The Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) is set to hold large-scale and nationwide drills, enlisting as many as five airbases and featuring a variety of military aircraft.

Iran’s Army Air Force Commander Brigadier General Hamid Vahedi told IRNA on Wednesday that the 10th edition of the drills, codenamed Fada’eeyan-e Harim-e Velayat  (Devotees of the Velayat Sanctuary), will be held on Thursday.

 A wide range of aircraft and drones, including dozens of fighter jets, bombers, military transport aircraft, and reconnaissance aircraft, will be employed in the main and operational phase of the one-day drills.

Vahedi said the drilling squadrons would be flying Sukhoi Su-24 attack aircraft, long-range supersonic F-4 fighter bombers, F-5 fighter aircraft,  F-7 fighter jets, RF-4 fighter bombers, Mikoyan MiG-29 fighter jets, F-14 Tomcat fighter aircraft, as well as indigenously-developed Sa’eqeh (Lightning) fighters during the exercise.

Vahedi added that the aerial maneuvers would be backed by Boeing-707 and -747 aerial refueling airplanes, transport and freight aircraft, in addition to homegrown Karrar (Striker), Kian, Ababil (Bird Flock), Arash, and Kaman-12 (Bow-12) unmanned aerial vehicles that are equipped with rockets, precision-guided missiles, long-range smart bombs and radar jamming devices.

The commander of the IRIAF said the military hardware have been deployed to five bases across the country, including Shahid Babaei Airbase in the central Isfahan Province and Shahid Fakouri Airbase in the northwestern province of East Azarbaijan Province, over the past few days.

The maneuvers, Vahedi said, are aimed at “assessment of combat capabilities of IRIAF units, increasing preparedness of interceptors, practicing the implementation of reconnaissance and operational plans, and establishment of a right model that would suit real-life battle.”

He said that “long-range endurance of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force fighter jets outside their defensive spheres, pinpoint accuracy of bombs and rockets in air-to-surface strikes as well as surveillance of the operational zone” will be put to test during the massive drills.

Moreover, air-to-air missiles will be fired to test their high destructive power.

Vahedi said all kinds of homegrown and upgraded systems and ammunition, including heavy and semi-heavy smart bombs, plus all kinds of laser-guided, thermal and radar-evading missiles will be used during the exercise.

He emphasized that Fada’eeyan-e Harim-e Velayat-10 aerial drills will be commanded by the IRIAF Command Center in Tehran, using sophisticated, multi-layered and secure communication systems.

Iranian military experts and technicians have in recent years made great progress in developing and manufacturing a broad range of domestically-manufactured equipment, making the armed forces self-sufficient in this regard.

Iranian officials have repeatedly underscored that the Islamic Republic will not hesitate to build up its defense capabilities, emphasizing such abilities are entirely meant for the purpose of defense and will be never subject to negotiations.

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