Iran has unveiled its first underground air force base, which is capable of storing fighter jets armed with long-range cruise missiles. The photos of the air base, released by official news agency IRNA, show air force personnel and US-built F-4E Phantom II fighter bombers acquired before the 1979 revolution inside the facility, according to Forbes. The base – named Oghab 44 (“Eagle” in Persian) – can accommodate “all types of fighter jets and bombers, in addition to drones”, IRNA said. The exact location of the base has not been revealed, but state media said it was “at the depth of hundreds of metres under the mountains”.
The Iranian media’s emphasis on the fact that the jets in the air base are armed with long-range cruise missiles strongly suggests that the Islamic republic plans to use its older fighter jets to destroy close targets in event of an attack, Forbes further said.
“Any attack on Iran from our enemies, including Israel, will see a response from our many air force bases, including Eagle 44,” the outlet quoted Iranian Armed Forces Chief of Staff Major General Mohammad Bagheri as saying.
As per Al-Jazeera, the unveiling was done to showcase Iran’s aerial military capabilities in response to a joint drill carried out by the United States and Israel less than two weeks ago.
The aircraft, naval vessels, troops and artillery systems used in the drill were meant to send a message to Iran amid rising tensions, the outlet further said.
On Twitter, the Iranian state television showed video clips of fighter jets taking off to conduct drill missions during day and night.
According to Reuters, Iran’s army in May last year gave details about another underground base, which houses drones, as the country seeks to protect military assets from potential air strikes by regional arch foe Israel.
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