Iran's Revolutionary Guards bombarded a mock-up of a U.S. aircraft carrier with rockets this week as part of the country's military drills in the sensitive Gulf waters, state television reported.
Dubbed "Prophet Mohammed 14th", the combat exercises were conducted near the Strait of Hormuz, a major shipping route for a fifth of the world's oil production. The U.S. Navy denounced the drills as an attempt to "intimidate and coerce."
In the same exercise, Iranian soldiers descended from a helicopter onto the replica warship while anti-aircraft guns fired at a target drone. The images were broadcast by Tehran's state media and also showed missiles being unleashed from gunboats, trucks and a helicopter.
Although state broadcast documentaries have reported on operations at underground military installations, all have refused to show landmark details that will give away their locations. Wednesday's launch from what looks to be Iran's desert plateau may have changed that in the wake of escalating frictions between Washington and the Islamic state over its failed nuclear deal with global powers and as economic pressures mount.
In a statement, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps disclosed that it was "the first time in the world" that such a drill had been carried out. The statement on its Sepahnews website did not provide any further details on the claim or give any of the rockets' specifications.
According to the U.S. military, the exercise prompted two bases with U.S. soldiers in the region to go on heightened alert and said Tehran's missile launches were irresponsible. Periodic confrontations in the Gulf have occurred in recent years between the Revolutionary Guards and the U.S. military, which has accused the Iranian navy of sending fast-attack boats to harass American warships as they pass through the Strait of Hormuz.
The drills came only days after Tehran accused American warplanes of harassing an Iranian passenger plane in the skies over Syria. At least four passengers aboard the Mahan Air jet were injured in last week's incident after the pilot initiated emergency maneuvers to avoid the fighter planes, Iranian authorities disclosed.
The wargames prompted the U.S. military to place its troops on alert at the Al-Dhafra airbase in the United Arab Emirates and the Al-Udeid airbase in Qatar, U.S. officials said. American troops took cover for 20 minutes and then realized the rockets were not directed at their bases, both around a hundred miles from the site of the replica aircraft carrier.