by Mehdi Bagheri
TEHRAN, Nov. 26 (Xinhua) -- Iran said on Thursday it successfully wrapped up large-scale air defense war games aimed at protecting the country's nuclear facilities against any possible attack.
Brigadier General Ahmad Miqani, head of the air defense headquarters of Iran's armed forces, announced the five-day maneuver was over, the state-run official IRNA news agency reported.
The three-phase maneuver included preparation of military units, reconnaissance flights and dog fights and accomplished its objectives successfully, according to the report.
The maneuver bears the message of peace to Iran's neighbors, and is aimed at developing its aerial defense power against any potential attack on its nuclear facilities, Iranian military officials said.
The exercise dubbed "Asemane Velayat 2" covered about 600,000 square km, over a third of the size of Iran and spread across the central, western and southern parts of the country. The drill involved both the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and the regular armed forces.
Iran's Khatamol-Anbia anti-aircraft unit Commander, Brigadier General Gholamhossein Molaei, said Monday the Iranian forces, at the second stage of drill, displayed their ability to swiftly react to any jamming and electronic warfare, IRNA reported.
The spokesman for the maneuver, Brigadier General Ali Moqiseh, also said in that stage the air defense units countered the enemy's reconnaissance missions, local satellite channel Press TV said on Monday.
On Tuesday, Moqiseh labeled the drill "a success," adding that "Advances in the defense capabilities enabled the country to counter attacks by state of the art missiles."
The IRNA reported on Wednesday that sophisticated missiles were tested in the last stage of the nationwide exercise. The medium-range Hawk missile systems, SAM 6 missiles, the Skyguard high-energy laser defense system, Oerlikon anti-aircraft machine guns, and 23 mm cannons were all tested successfully.
The Air Force fighter-bombers entered enemy zones, caused electronic disruption and fulfilled their missions successfully, the report added.
Also, the Iranian forces on Wednesday successfully test-fired the upgraded version of the Russian TOR M1 missile system in the third phase of war games.
According to the semi-official Fars news agency, the Air Force Commander of IRGC, Brigadier General Amir-Ali Hajizadeh, said Wednesday Iran has further increased the range of the TOR M1 air defense system which was bought from Russia.
"Over the past two years, Iranian experts increased the range of the missile system ... to 35,000 feet (over 10,000 meters)," Hajizadeh was quoted as saying.
"Considering the fact that most warplanes fly at the altitude of 25,000 to 35,000 feet, the new system will have a proper coverage to deal with them," he added.
In the meantime, Major General Mohammad-Ali Jafari, commander of IRGC, said the U.S. and Israel are exerting pressure on Russia to withdraw from delivering the S-300 missile system to Iran, according to a 2007 agreement to enhance the country's defense capabilities.
The missile was developed as a system against aircraft and cruise missiles for Soviet Union's air defense branch, but later variations were also developed to intercept ballistic missiles.
Defiant to any threats by its arch-enemy Israel, Iranian military officials said at the launch of the exercise that Iran has all the necessary information about the enemy's equipment and that they find it impossible for Israel to violate Iran's airspace.
Hajizadeh said, "in case of any offensive (on Iran by Israel), the F-15 and F-16 fighters of the Zionists will be trapped in our defensive systems and will be destroyed," according to Fars.
Even if their fighters could escape from Iran's defensive system, the bases from which the fighters take off will "be targeted by our destructive surface-to-surface missiles before they could land there," he added.
"It is possible that the beginner of such a war will be the Zionists, but with no doubt, its termination will be determined by our will," said the IRGC's air force commander.
The United States and Israel have consistently refused to rule out the possibility of military strikes against Iran over its refusal to halt the disputed nuclear program.
The United States and its allies have accused Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program. Iran has denied the U.S. charges and insisted that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.