The Iranian Army has unveiled its first underground Air Force base, called “Oqab 44” (Eagle 44), which is capable of storing and operating various types of fighter jets, bombers and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri and Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi, the chief commander of the Iranian Army, visited the underground base on Tuesday.
“Any attack on Iran from our enemies, including Israel, will be met with a response from our many Air Force bases including Eagle 44,” Baqeri said.
Dug deep into the mountains, the tactical airbase has various sections, including an alert area, command post, warplane hangars, repair and maintenance center, navigation and airport equipment, and fuel tanks. It is designed to accommodate and prepare a variety of fighter jets, bombers and unmanned aerial vehicles for missions.
The unveiling comes less than two weeks after the US and the Israeli regime held their largest-ever joint military exercise, featuring thousands of troops, over 140 aircraft, a dozen naval vessels, and artillery systems in what was widely advertised as “a message to Iran.”
The large subterranean airbase can receive the Air Force’s new fighter jets and gear them up for missions, among other functions.
Oghab-44 is one of the several tactical underground bases of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) that has been constructed across the country in recent years given the operational needs of the Air Force units and the civil defense requirements.
Capable of accommodating the fighter jets in safe locations and equipping the planes with electronic warfare systems and various bombs and missiles, the underground bases allow for standoff aerial operations and extend the strategic range of attacks against distant targets.
The IRIAF had earlier unveiled an underground drone base dubbed ‘Drone Base 313’, a process that shows the Army has a comprehensive plan to establish subterranean bases in the aviation field.
IRIAF bases to host various fighter jets
Speaking at the ceremony, Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi 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.
The commander said such bases are of a reserve and support to the armed forces, and “whenever the situation calls for … these bases have the ability to do great things.”
“These bases have created the possibility of necessary actions and reactions that enemies cannot expect in different areas,” Mousavi added. “Our bases, and of course some operational bases, will host all kinds of fighters in the future.”
‘Asef’ cruise missile unveiled
On the sidelines of the unveiling ceremony, the long-range air-launched cruise missile “Asef” was also showcased.
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.
The Iranian Armed Forces have constructed underground bases over the recent decades. Back in March 2021, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) built its first ever underground base or city to protect its missile units.