Iran Kicks Off Massive War Drills Calls air drills its biggest ever By Matt Cantor, Newser User Posted Nov 12, 2012 6:41 AM CST 17 comments Comments In this June 2, 2012 photo, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gestures as he delivers a speech. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File) (Newser) – Days after Iran fired on a US drone, the country is launching vast military drills today—including what local reports call the biggest air drills the Islamic Republic has ever conducted. The drills will blanket about half the country and involve 8,000 soldiers; officials will also test missiles, artillery, and surveillance systems, Reuters reports. "These drills convey a message of peace and security to regional countries," says a spokesman for the drills. "At the same time they send out a strong warning to those threatening Iran." The exercises appear to have been planned since long before the drone incident.