Iran Claims Its Air Defense Engaged Two US Drones During Recent Drill

Iran claimed that a US Reaper drone and Global Hawk approached Iran’s airspace during a recent drill and that Iran activated its sophisticated air defenses to warn the drones not to continue their flight path. According to Iran’s Fars News, which generally represents the regime, the incident took place while Iran was conducting its military exercise in Zulfiqar. An MQ-9 Reaper and MQ-4 Global Hawk were noticed by Iranian radar apparently entering the “air defense identification area”.

While they were under full observation of the country’s integrated air defense network from miles away… they were intercepted by the army’s air defense and faced a serious warning, ”say Iranian media. The report notes that the UAVs, which have a flight range of thousands of kilometers, “changed their route so as not to approach the borders of the Islamic Republic of Iran after the air defense was determined to intercept and warn.” .

The Global Hawk is a large American whale-like surveillance drone. Iran shot down one of them in June 2019 during mounting tensions. The drone is estimated to cost between $ 100 and $ 200 million, depending on its configuration. It can be configured as a Triton model or a BAMS-D version that performs wide area maritime surveillance. The Reaper, on the other hand, can be armed and is similar to a US Predator.Both drones have their origin in the 1990s and have been flying for decades and play a key role in the Global War on Terrorism. Both are too slow for today’s air defenses and can be seen on radar, like the kind Iran uses with its third Khordad air defense system. US armed and surveillance drones are generally not suitable for contested airspace, one of the problems that US drone programs have faced. transition to deal with close rivals, or even regional powers like China.

The United States has other stealth spy drones. Iran was able to intercept one of those, the RQ-170 Sentinel, and shoot it down over Iran in 2011. The embarrassing incident prompted the United States to request that the drone be returned. Iran did not return the flying wing-shaped drone and instead reverse-engineered it and made several of its own drones based on the American model.

Iran helped Houthi rebels target and apparently shoot down American Reaper drones over Yemen in June and August 2019. At the time it was unclear how the Houthis gained the ability to target American drones, but Iran has been supplying to the Houthis missiles and drones ever since. 2015.

A US Predator drone, armed with a missile, stands on the runway of the Kandahar military airport. (credit: MASSOUD HOSSAINI / POOL / REUTERS)

In 2019, the United States accused Iran and Iranian-backed Houthi rebels of firing surface-to-air missiles at American Reaper drones twice in June. An incident took place on June 6. Iran often tracks US military and naval flights in the Gulf. Iran said it tracked a P-8 during the Global Hawk shootdown in June 2019. It is also likely to attempt to trace US Reaper and Global Hawk flights outside of the Al-Dhafra base in the United Arab Emirates. . Iran has also used its own drones to fly over US carriers and harass US ships. In July 2019, an American ship, the USS Boxer, shot down an Iranian drone that was harassing the ship. In July 2021, Iran used a drone to attack a commercial tanker in the Gulf of Oman, killing two crew members. Iran claimed in early November that it sent a helicopter to assault an oil tanker and prevent US “piracy” in the Gulf.
The recent Iran Zulfiqar exercise included the use of drones and also practice with the army. Iran says it flew Mirage and F-4 fighters during the drill, as well as P-3 reconnaissance aircraft. The Mirage fighters were apparently the ones that Iran obtained from Iraq in the 1991 Gulf War when the Iraqi air force flew ships to Iran to avoid destruction. The F-4s are American ships sold to the Pahlavi regime in the 1970s. Iran also says it used helicopters and naval tanks in the recent drill. Admiral Amir Seyed Mahmoud Mousavi, spokesman for joint exercise Zulfiqar 1400, announced that: “This exercise was carried out with the deployment of various military scenarios in the operational area with an area of ​​more than one million square meters.”

The aim of the exercise was to enhance Iran’s capabilities along the coast. He was also practicing operating further offshore. This included the use of drones and assessments of “precision and destructive power of coastal, naval and aerial missile systems.” Iran says it has continued to build new weapons based on local designs. “Furthermore, the manifestation of military authority as a powerful arm of the sacred system of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the southeastern region of the country and ensuring the security of investments in this region, including our presence in international and distant open waters.” the drill spokesman said.

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