Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
Iran has a fake aircraft carrier. The vessel sat damaged for years, but it appears to be back in action, meaning its 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 to its mock flattop, a painted barge resembling a U.S. Navy Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, after damaging it during target practice in 2015.
Photos show repair work on Iran's mock-up of a US Navy aircraft carrier, complete with mock aircraft. (Planet Labs Inc. via Business Insider)
Iran first started constructing a mock-up of a U.S. 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 U.S. 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 late 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 U.S. carriers have routinely sailed for years in shows of force.
Iranian media claimed 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 Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln was recently in the Persian Gulf. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian M. Wilbur(
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 United States, 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, as Defense One reports, Brig. Gen. Amirali Hajizadeh, head of Iran's IRGC Aerospace Force, threatened U.S. 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 warned.
Hajizadeh's forces were recently involved in a missile strike on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq following a U.S. drone strike the killed top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani.
Bryan Clark, a defense expert and former U.S. Navy officer, told Defense One that the mock-up could be used for major exercises in the spring, noting that Iran could use the fake flattop for cruise missile strikes, small boat attacks, and drone strikes.
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