Iran unveils underground base for fighter jets

Published February 8, 2023
A handout picture provided by the Iranian Army on Tuesday shows pilots posing next to a fighter jet during the unveiling of Iran’s first underground military air base, at an undisclosed location.—AFP
A handout picture provided by the Iranian Army on Tuesday shows pilots posing next to a fighter jet during the unveiling of Iran’s first underground military air base, at an undisclosed location.—AFP

TEHRAN: Iran’s army on Tuesday unveiled its first underground base for fighter jets designed to withstand possible strikes by US bunker-busting bombs, state media reported.

The base — named Oghab 44 (“Eagle” in Persian) — can accommodate “all types of fighter jets and bombers, in addition to drones”, the official news agency IRNA said, released images and videos from inside the base.

IRNA said it was one of the country’s most important air force bases, housing fighters equipped with long-range cruise missiles.

The exact location of the base was not revealed, but state media said it was “at the depth of hundreds of metres under the

mountains“, and capable of withstanding “bombs by strategic US bombers”.

Subterranean facility made to repel attacks by US ‘bunker busters’

The latest unveiling comes the day before Iran marks Air Force Day, part of the build-up to the 44th anniversary on Saturday of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

State media on Tuesday showed Iran’s armed forces chief of staff Major General Mohammad Bagheri and the army’s commander-in-chief Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi at the newly established base.

Oghab 44 is “one of numerous tactical underground air bases for the army’s air force built in different areas of the country in recent years”, IRNA reported.

According to Press TV, Mr Mousavi, while speaking at the ceremony, said Oqab-44 is one of the “combined” bases of the IRIAF, meaning both manned and unmanned aircraft carry out missions from the tactical base.

Stressing that the IRIAF’s “equipment has been upgraded from tactical to strategic in accordance with the threats and type of missions,” Mousavi said the new weapons and equipment installed on the fighters are state-of-the-art and projected for possible engagement with strategic targets.

It can prepare fighter jets to “counter possible offensives” such as those practised by the US and Israel in their recent military drill, according to state media.

“Any attack on Iran from our enemies, including Israel, will see a response from our many air force bases including Eagle 44,” Mr Bagheri told state TV.

On the sidelines of the unveiling ceremony, the long-range air-launched cruise missile ‘Asef’ was also showcased, Press TV reported.

The missile is equipped with a warhead that features a high destructive and explosive power and can destroy heavy fortifications.

The Asef missile, which is manufactured by Iranian experts, is mounted on the Sukhoi 24 fighter jet.

Iran has mostly Russian MiG and Sukhoi fighter jets that date back to the Soviet era, as well as some Chinese aircraft, including the F-7.

Some American F-4 and F-5 fighter jets dating back to before the revolution are also part of its fleet.

Similarly, in May last year, the Iranian army had shared some details of an underground base for its military drones.

Iran’s state media had reported that 100 drones were being kept in the heart of the Zagros mountains, including Ababil-5.

Published in Dawn, February 8th, 2023

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