Iran has launched an intensive three-day programme of defensive Air Force drills across the country.

The drills will involve all the air defence units of Iran’s ground forces and will include the launching of advanced missiles and other precision-guided weapons.

Iran’s Brigadier General Ahmad Mighani said that “the main goal of the drills is to rehearse tactical operations with modern weapons and to upgrade the operational effectiveness of the countries forces”.

Iran recently took delivery of 29 Russian-made Tor-M1 air defence missile systems under a $700m contract signed in late 2005. Russia has also trained Iranian Tor-M1 specialists, including radar operators and crew commanders.

In July Iran successfully launched an upgraded Shahab-3 ballistic missile with a range of 2,000km, and several missiles with a range of 350km as part of the Great Prophet III military exercise in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran is currently under three sets of relatively mild UN Security Council sanctions for defying demands to halt uranium enrichment, which it says it needs purely for electricity generation, despite Western accusations that the programme is geared toward weapon production.

By Daniel Garrun