The Islamic Republic Army of Iran and the Revolutionary Guards are to conduct
joint military exercises in the southwest or southeast of the country, a senior
Iranian army commander said on Wednesday.
Pourdastan, commander of the Iranian ground forces, said that the army and the
Revolutionary Guards will carry out a special joint air exercise that will be
the first of its type since the Islamic Revolution, Iran’s ISNA news outlet and
hardline Mashregh news reported. A further eight joint military exercises would
be held in the upcoming year, Pourdastan said.
The ground forces
commander added that the exercises would be performed using live ammunition and
in battle conditions, to prepare soldiers for war.
Guards and the Islamic Republic Army of Iran act as parallel ground forces, but
while the regular army is tasked with defending the country and maintaining
civil order, the job of the Revolutionary Guards is to protect Iran’s Islamic
regime. The Revolutionary Guards, which the US designated a terrorist
organization in 2007, also controls Iran’s Basij militia, and the secret Quds
Force, which conducts operations outside Iran.
The announcement came days
before Iran and six world powers are due to restart negotiations on Iran’s
nuclear program, and as the Islamic Republic continues to give mixed messages
about its position.
According to Pourdastan, who made the announcement
during a speech for Iran’s Army Day, the Islamic Republic has also developed its
own vertical wind tunnel for military use. Vertical wind tunnels are used to
teach skydiving to elite troops.
The military commander said that while
there are several such wind tunnels in Arab countries, those were of Western
origin, whereas Iran’s had been built domestically, in cooperation with the
Self-Sufficiency Jihad Organization.
Pourdastan also said Iran plans to
improve its domestic- built Zulfiqar tank by adding a new firing control system
and laser range-finder.
Iran’s Zulfiqar is a second-generation main battle
tank, developed and mass-produced since the 1990s and believed to be based on
components from Russia’s T-72 tank as well as American M48 and M60 Patton
Currently, the most updated model, Zulfiqar-3, is equipped with a
firing system based on a Soviet design.
According to Pourdastan, Iran has
produced a Gatlingtype 7.62 caliber machine gun, dubbed the Akhgar, which has an
effective range of over 2 kilometers.
The maneuvers would be the latest
in a series of military exercises and war games Iran has staged since the start
of the year, amid growing tensions and concerns of war with Israel.
February, the Revolutionary Guards announced they had begun a two-day military
exercise outside the central Iranian city of Yazd, which Iran said was designed
to upgrade its defense capabilities.
Also in February, Iran announced
that it had deployed anti-aircraft artillery and warplanes to protect its
nuclear sites from possible Israeli airstrikes, in a military exercise it dubbed
Sarollah, from an Arabic term meaning “the vengeance of God.” That same month,
the Revolutionary Guards conducted military exercises in the south of Iran.