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Iran launches large-scale air drills in country's east

Published on Nov 12, 2012 2:49 PM

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran launched large-scale air defence drills in the country's eastern half on Monday, Iranian media reported, amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington over a military incident last week in the Gulf.

The "Velayat-4" manoeuvres being held this week will span 850,000 square kilometres in Iran's northeast, east, and southeast regions, or about half its total land mass. The manoeuvres will include about 8,000 troops, drawn both from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its regular military, local media reported.

"Various kinds of fixed, mobile, and tactical long-range radars, and fixed, tactical and airborne electronic surveillance systems will participate in this exercise," said Farzad Esmaili, who heads Iran's air defence headquarters, according to state news agency IRNA.

The exercise will also test Iran's bombers, refuelling planes, and unmanned aircraft, Esmaili said.

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