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Iran fires missile at mock US aircraft carrier during war games exercise

US Navy criticised Iran's war game as 'irresponsible and reckless' but said the incident did not affect trade movement in Strait of Hormuz
An Iranian mock-up of a US aircraft carrier during a military exercise near the Strait of Hormuz (AFP)

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) fired a missile on a mock-up of a US aircraft carrier on Tuesday during military exercises in sensitive Gulf waters, state television said.

The exercises - dubbed "Prophet Mohammed 14th" - were held near the Strait of Hormuz, a vital shipping lane that a fifth of the world's oil output depends on.

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They were staged at a time of heightened tensions between Iran and the United States, which have come to a head several times during the past year. 

The US Navy on Tuesday criticised Iran as "irresponsible and reckless" for conducting the exercises. 

"We are aware of the Iranian exercise involving attacking a mock-up of a vessel similar to a motionless aircraft carrier," US Fifth Fleet spokeswoman Rebecca Rebarich told AFP. 

"While we are always watchful of this type of irresponsible and reckless behaviour by Iran in the vicinity of busy international waterways, this exercise has not disrupted coalition operations in the area nor had any impacts to the free flow of commerce in the Strait of Hormuz and surrounding waters."

Televised war games

Footage of the war games was broadcasted on Iranian state television, showing the IRGC's air and naval forces readying for an attack off the country's southwest coast.

Speedboats skimmed across the water in formation before ground forces fired cannons and a missile was launched from a helicopter.

The mock-up of a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier came into view with rows of dummy fighter jets on either side of its landing strip.

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The television then cut to rockets being fired out to sea from the backs of trucks before showing damage to the hull of the mock-up aircraft carrier.

Another missile fired from a helicopter left a trail of smoke before appearing to smash into the side of the fake warship.

Armed forces were then seen rappelling onto the deck of the vessel before around a dozen speedboats circled around it.

"What was shown today in these exercises at the level of aerospace and naval forces was all offensive," IRGC commander, Major General Hossein Salami told state television, as quoted by AFP. 

The war games come only days after Tehran accused US fighter jets of harassing an Iranian commercial airliner in the skies over Syria.

At least four passengers on board the Mahan Air plane were injured in Thursday's incident after the pilot took emergency action to avoid the US warplanes.

Ongoing tensions

Tensions have escalated between Iran and the United States since US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from a landmark nuclear deal in 2018.

In June 2019, Iranian forces shot down a US drone that Tehran claimed was flying in its airspace. The incident brought the two countries to the brink of war.

Then in January US forces killed Qassem Soleimani, Iran's top general, at an airport in Baghdad, sparking a reprisal attack on an Iraqi military base housing US forces. At least 100 US personnel at the base were sent to hospital with traumatic brain injuries. 

One of the most recent confrontations between the US and Iran was in mid-April when the United States accused the IRGC of using speedboats to harass its warships in the Gulf.