WASHINGTON, US - Iran destroyed its mock-up of a US aircraft carrier during naval drills this week, attacking the target with 100 speedboats armed with rockets, shoulder-launched missiles and mortars, according to reports from Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency.
The replica of a US Nimitz-class carrier, currently the largest class of aircraft carrier in service, was also struck with cruise missiles in the closing moments of the major exercise, which was no doubt aimed at intimidating the United States as negotiations over Iran's nuclear program continue.
A US Navy spokesperson in Bahrain, however, said they were not concerned by the naval drill.
"Iranian naval forces displayed their skills in targeting enemy vessels and destroyed a mock US aircraft carrier during the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Navy's massive Payambar-e Azam 9 (The Great Prophet 9) wargames in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz," read a video caption on the Fars' website.
When US officials first reported on the existence of the mock carrier last year, one described it as more akin to a Hollywood set than an actual warship and military officials in the US have pointed out that the Iranian Navy successfully destroyed an unarmed, unmanned replica, essentially a sitting duck.
The symbolism, however, is clear. Nimitz-class carriers are the centerpiece of US naval forces, and the largest warships in the world and the statement from the Iranian Navy added that the games did not include "covert" weapons capability that would remain secret until needed.
"We have capabilities which will remain covert and hidden before being used in action and we will merely use them in the battlefield," Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami, lieutenant commander of the Revolutionary Guard, said in the report.
A U.S. Navy spokesman in Bahrain told the Associated Press that the United States Navy "is quite confident of our naval forces' ability to defend themselves" and was therefore unconcerned.