This post was updated from a previous version to include additional quotes from U.S. 5th Fleet.
A mock-up of an American aircraft carrier will be used as a target by Iranian naval forces in an upcoming exercise, the head of the naval branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said Sunday in local press reports.
“We should learn about weaknesses and strengths of our enemy,” said IRGC naval head Adm. Ali Fadavi in the Haft-e Sobh newspaper.
He said IRGC should, “target the carrier in the trainings, after it is completed.”
The carrier mock up was first revealed in late March under construction at the Iran Shipbuilding & Offshore Industries Complex (ISOICO) from commercial satellite imagery
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Fadavi are the first public comments from Iranian military officials on the carrier barge.
Reports on Iranian state television, after the reveal of the mockup, said the Nimitz-class carrier-shaped barge was to be a set of a film production based on the 1988 shoot down of Iran Air Flight 655 by Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes (CG-49).
According to an assessment from the U.S. 5th Fleet, based in nearby Bahrain, the mock up, “depicts the style of flight deck for a Nimitz-class (CVN-68) aircraft carrier, complete with the number ‘68’ on the flight deck and mock U.S. style aircraft shows to a clear attempt to depict a U.S. carrier,” 5th Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Jason Salata told USNI News in March.
“It is possible that Iran could tow this mock-up out to sea and destroy it. Iran will often deploy target barges for exercise missile firings, film the destruction and then televise those productions through their state-run media,” Salata said.
Iranian officials have said, in propaganda, “[American] giant vessels and warships are highly vulnerable to the capabilities of the IRGC sea mines, high-speed vessels and missiles of the U.S. reliance on large warships,” IRGC’s Fadavi said in September.
“They take a lot of care to avoid shooting even a single bullet, because if any war breaks out, it will end with their complete annihilation.”
Representatives from 5th Fleet said the eventual exercise wouldn’t change U.S. actions in the region.
“Whatever Iran hopes to do with the mock up, it is likely to have zero impact on U.S. Navy Operations in the Gulf,” Salata told USNI News on Monday.
“Firing weapons at a stationary steel structure floating on pontoons is not a realistic representation of being able to target a 100,000 ton ship maneuvering at speeds in excess of 30 knots.”