It looks like Iran is ready to start bombing its fake aircraft carrier again
- Iran has a fake aircraft carrier that it uses for target practice as it trains to take on the US Navy, which routinely puts flattops and other surface vessels in the Persian Gulf and surrounding waterways.
- Iran severely damaged its replica of a US Navy Nimitz-class carrier during drills in 2015, and the ship, a painted barge designed to look like a carrier, sat like that for years.
- Recent satellite photos taken by Planet Labs and first reported by Defense One show that Iran has completed or is close to completing repair work, meaning it may be preparing to start bombing the fake ship again.
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Iran has a fake aircraft carrier. The vessel sat damaged for years, but it appears to be back in action, meaning it's time for the country's armed forces to start trying to sink it again.
Satellite images provided to Insider by Planet Labs and first reported by Defense One show that Iran appears to have completed or be close to completing repairs on its mock flattop, a painted barge resembling a US Navy Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, after damaging it during target practice in 2015.
Iran first started constructing a mock-up of a US aircraft carrier in 2014, CNN reported at the time, citing satellite photos of the work being done at the port of Bandar Abbas. The purpose of the carrier construction project was not immediately clear.
Following the CNN report, Rear Adm. Ali Fadavi, who was then commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps naval forces, revealed the point of the replica carrier.
"We have been making and sinking replicas of US destroyers, frigates, and warships for long years," he told Iranian media. "We practice the same drills on replica aircraft carriers because sinking and destroying US warships has, is, and will be on our agenda."
In February the following year, Iran announced that it had destroyed a mock aircraft carrier during the Payambar-e Azam 9 (The Great Prophet 9) war games in the Persian Gulf, where US carriers have routinely sailed for years in shows of force.
Iranian media said that the ship was destroyed by rockets fired from "tens of IRGC speedboats." The fake flattop was also struck by IRGC cruise and ballistic missiles, the report said.
The mock carrier was not actually destroyed, but it was damaged. It remained in such a state for years until Iran began actively working to repair it last fall amid heightened tensions with the US, which had deployed the USS Abraham Lincoln and thousands of additional troops to the US Central Command area of responsibility to confront Iran.
In October, one month before construction began, Defense One reported Brig. Gen. Amirali Hajizadeh, the head of Iran's IRGC Aerospace Force, threatened US bases and carriers.
"Everybody should know that all American bases and their aircraft carriers in a distance of up to 2,000 kilometers around Iran are within the range of our missiles," he said.
Hajizadeh's forces were recently involved in a missile strike on US and coalition forces in Iraq in the wake of a US drone strike the killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
Bryan Clark, a defense expert and former US Navy officer, told Defense One that the mock-up could be used for major exercises in the spring, adding that Iran could use the fake flattop for cruise-missile strikes, small-boat attacks, and drone strikes.