TEHRAN: A senior Iranian commander says the country is capable of reconnoitring any spy aircraft flying far away from its borders, adding that Irans Air Defense Force will safeguard the Islamic Republics territorial integrity.
We will monitor the air traffic in any part of the country and will by no means allow any act of mischief [against Iran], said Commander of the Khatam al-Anbiya Air Defense Base Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili in an interview on Tuesday.
Iran has developed such radar capability that it can reconnoiter any aircraft, Esmaili said, noting that the army’s Air Defense Force previously identified an American U2 reconnaissance plane, using new radar systems.
Among other achievements of Irans Air Defense Force, the commander said, is the 2014 downing of intruding aircraft including the Israeli-made Hermes drone.
In late August 2014, Irans Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) said its forces had intercepted and shot down an Israeli spy drone with a surface-to-air missile. The Israeli-made drone was heading to the Natanz nuclear facility in the central Iranian province of Isfahan.
This was not the first time that Irans airspace became the target of espionage activities.
Iran also identified and repelled an American U2 reconnaissance plane that was trying to intrude into Iranian airspace above the Sea of Oman in March 2013. The countrys air defense systems managed to detect the radar-evading aircraft and it left the area after receiving a warning from Irans air defense units.
The IRGC also captured a US ScanEagle drone over the Persian Gulf upon its intrusion into the Iranian airspace in December 2012.
In December 2011, a US RQ-170 Sentinel stealth aircraft was also downed with minimal damage by the Iranian Army’s electronic warfare unit. The drone was flying over the Iranian city of Kashmar, some 140 miles (225 km) from the Afghan border when it was brought down.
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