H. I. Sutton, a military expert, and the author claim that images from Iran's drone exercises over the weekend seem to show them striking a model of an Israeli Sa'ar 6 ship.
Iran said that it has conducted military drone exercises in the south of the country. State media reported that the Zolfaqar 1401 drills used a range of drones, including the Arash and Ababil, that were used to attack a mock-up of a port and a ship.
According to Iranian television, the drones successfully targeted simulated targets along the shore after taking off from Iran's Sahand warship.
The Ababil 5 combat drone was launched and deployed to destroy the targets, according to the media sources, which said that "various combat, reconnaissance, and interception drones were utilized in this operation." The Ababil 5 drone "has just joined the Iranian Navy and was utilized for the first time in the Iranian Army's yearly maneuvers," according to a report by Islamic Republic News Agency.
What was revealed by the exercise's video?
The Iranian navy ship IRIS Lavan No. 514, one of the numerous Iranian landing ships of the Hengam class, was shown in a video of the drone launches launching an Ababil-style drone. Iranian TV displayed this ship with many drones, including the Ababil-4, the Arash, and the Bavar-5, in July 2022. This is allegedly the freshly announced Iranian navy drone section.
The drones are launched in a video, then they hit a target off the Iranian shore. Sutton said that the objective looked to be "inspired by the Eilat Naval facility in Israel. The target ship was based on a Sa'ar 6 corvette from the Israeli Navy.
What is Sa'ar 6 in Israel?
The Sa'ar 6 is a new class of technologically superior Israeli corvettes that the Israeli navy has just put into service. These ships, which the military presence has four of, are equipped with cutting-edge defensive systems and technology. Israel tested the Barak LRAD on one of them last month.
In the films, it can be seen that Iranian drones have struck a warehouse and a ship mock-up. The ship's superstructure resembles that of the Sa'ar 6.
The bridge, for instance, seems to have the same setup and windows. Additionally, the mock-up seems to contain a mast with sensors and anti-ship missiles that is comparable to photographs of the Sa'ar 6 that are accessible to the general public.
This indicates that Iran modified the ship based on Israel's modifications as well as reproduced how the ship looked when it initially landed in Israel. This seems to be Iran's way of saying that it may pose a danger to Israeli naval installations as well as ships and ports.
Sutton recognized the Eilat naval station as the Iranian mock-up of the shore facilities. A four-day maritime drill between the US and Israeli warships took place in the Red Sea in August. In addition to the Israeli Sa'ar-class cruisers INS Eilat and INS Keshet, the US Navy ships USS Nitze, USS Lewis B. Puller, and USNS Matthew Perry took part, according to a US Central Command report from August.
Long-range drones were purportedly sent by Iran to Houthi troops in Yemen in late 2020 or early 2021. According to reports, the Shahed 136 drones had a range of almost 2,000 kilometers, which allowed them to go as far as Eilat. Russia has already received Shahed 136 drones from Iran. Early in 2021, according to sources, Israel set up air defenses in response to Yemen's Houthis, who are supported by Iran.
The Sa'ar 6 and Eilat models were made in Iran, close to Jask. This region is close to an Iranian naval facility. Iran used drones to attack a commercial ship in the Gulf of Oman in November, launching them from Chabahar in the south of the country. Around 340 kilometers east of Jask lies Chabahara. According to a geolocation performed by OSINT analyst Obretix, the mock-up of Eilat and the Sa'ar 6 is around 20 kilometers from Jask.