Iran on Sunday began an annual air force drill in the central part of country, state media reported, as the U.S. sends more fighter planes to the region to deter the Islamic Republic from seizing commercial vessels in the Persian Gulf area.
The official IRNA news agency said 11 Iranian air force bases participated in the drill, dubbed Fadaeian Velyat-11, or Devotees of the Supreme Leader-11. It said an air base at the southern port of Bandar Abbas at the mouth of the strategic Strait of Hormuz is active in the drill.
The Strait of Hormuz is the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which 20% of all crude oil passes.
The report said more than 90 fighter planes, bombers and drones would participate in the drill.
Air Force Chief Gen. Hamid Vahedi said the drill’s message is one of friendship, peace and security in the region. “Sustainable security, improving and fostering regional ties, peaceful coexistence and defending air borders are on the agenda,” he said.