TEHRAN, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- Iran on the final day of naval combat exercises Wednesday announced the launch of its next generation of combat helicopters.
Iranian Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi took part in a ceremony to mark the deployment of combat helicopter Toufan II. The defense minister said the Iranian-designed helicopter is part of "a new generation of combat choppers and enjoys advanced and updated technology," the semiofficial Fars News Agency reports.
Once mass production begins, Vahidi said the new combat aircraft will expand Iran's defense capabilities despite increasing sanctions pressure from Tehran's adversaries.
Western governments have imposed tight economic sanctions on Iran to counter perceived nuclear weapons ambitions.
Naval drills for the Iranian military that began late last week concluded following Vahidi's announcement. The drills, dubbed Velayet 91, were carried out in the Iranian waters of the Strait of Hormuz, the Sea of Oman and the northern Indian Ocean.
"The objectives of the Velayat 91 drill are to display the Islamic Republic's power in establishing security in seas and to convey the message of peace and friendship to regional countries," said Iranian Rear Adm. Habibollah Sayyari.