Iran officially revealed the first-of-its-kind underground airbase Tuesday dubbed “Eagle 44,” capable of housing fighter jets and long-range cruise missiles, first reported Iranian news outlet IRNA.
An opening ceremony was reportedly attended by Iran’s top military commanders, including its Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Bagheri and Army Commander Major General Abrolrahim Mousavi.
Iranian officials not only championed how the airbase will enable its military to better conduct varied operations, but struck an aggressive tone when it came to its chief adversary, Israel.
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“Any attack on Iran from our enemies, including Israel, will see a response from our many air force bases including Eagle 44,” Bagheri told state-run TV, reported Reuters.
The comments come as tension between Iran and Israel continues to escalate, particularly following the election of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who vowed to be tough on Iran from the campaign trail.
One Iranian defense expert told Fox News Digital the latest base reveal “represents a continuation of a trend we’ve seen in the Islamic Republic’s security policy for quite some time now.”
“The regime understands that long-range strike assets, particularly drones and missiles, are its most significant deterrent weapon,” Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies explained. “It understands the threat that these weapons pose to Iran’s neighbors.”
Israel and Iran have long engaged in a proxy war in Syria and covert operations across the Middle East — a shadow war Jerusalem has dubbed “the war between the wars.”
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Just weeks into the new administration, Iran accused Israel of hitting a military factory with a drone strike, though it did not provide evidence to back its accusations. Israel has not commented on the attack.
Tehran has also relied on hyperbole and the potential risk its defense space poses as Iran continues to develop its nuclear capabilities and expand its missile stockpiles.
Iran has previously revealed similar underground bases used to house missiles and drones as well as its ability to launch ballistic missiles from underground.
Ben Taleblu said Tehran “understands that without hardening, dispersing them, and making them into a more survivable force, it’s not going to be able to keep these weapons.”
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Iran’s most recent underground base also points to Tehran’s shifting strategy towards defense following the collapse of the nuclear arms agreement after the U.S. pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in 2018, along with the correlating five-year arms transfer ban that lapsed in 2020.
“The regime is looking at procuring some more advanced conventional systems and this base could be making the space for that,” Ben Taleblu explained.