Iran shows off military muscle

/ Source: news services

Iran's army air force has begun a military exercise near the northwestern border with Turkey, state-run television reported Thursday.

The report said jet fighters, including American-made F-4s, F-5s and F-14s and Russian-made Sukhoi planes, were involved in the drill.

The exercise in the northwestern town of Tabriz also included the new domestically manufactured jet fighter called the Saegheh, or Lightning.

The broadcast said the exercise was aimed at boosting Iran's defense capabilities, upgrading the morale of the army and displaying the might of the country's air force.

The Israeli military intelligence Web site DEBKAfile characterized the war games as intending to simulate an attack on Israel, Reuters reported.  In June, more than 100 Israeli fighter-bombers conducted air maneuvers over the Mediterranean and Aegean seas, midway between Israel and Iran.

Iran launched an arms development program during its 1980s war with Iraq to compensate for a U.S. weapons embargo.