Gate crashers: Iran warns off US fighters, spy drones during drill

Sputnik– On December 28, Iran said that its air defenses had warned off several US fighter planes and drones during an ongoing military drill. In an interview with Sputnik Persian, prominent Iranian political analyst Sabbah Zanganeh described the US behavior as a provocation.

“In the past three days of military drills, air defense has given warnings to 12 aircraft of trans-regional countries to stay away from the country’s airspace,” General Abbas Farajpour told the semi-official Tasnim news agency. The agency said the aircraft included US fighter jets and UAVs. “What are the Americans doing in this region? Why are they stoking up tensions and conflicts here by meddling in the internal affairs of the countries located in this sensitive part of the world? I wonder what they are doing near the Iranian border,” Sabbah Zanganeh told Sputnik Persian.

He added that just as the independent Iranian state was holding naval and air defense drills on its territory, the US suddenly waded in trying to complicate things and gather information.

“Or maybe they are trying to set the stage for riots and conflicts? These latest attempts by the US to violate our air space are highly disturbing, they are a threat to peace and stability in the region and are seen by us as a provocation,” he emphasized. Not very long ago the Iranians presented Russia with an exact replica of a US RQ-170 spy drone they seized control of in 2011 in the north-east of the country using an electronic warfare system. The drone was then delivered to an Iranian military base in the northeast of the country.

Following the incident the military released a video showing the UAV with no visible damage on it. It was one of many instances of US drones venturing close to the Iranian borders, Emad Abshenass, a senior editor with the newspaper Iran Press, told Sputnik Persian. “The US and its allies are trying hard to sneak a peek at Iranian weapons and defense technology. They are also trying to assess the degree of our armed forces’ combat readiness and the country’s defense potential in general. All these attempts have fallen flat though,” he said. Emad Abshenass recalled numerous attempts by US spy planes to break into Iran’s airspace.

“Once we even had to fire warning shots to warn off one of their spy drones.  In another instance, we managed to intercept one of these drones and built an exact replica that proved to be even better than the original.  We presented one such replica to our Russian colleagues,” Emad Abshenass noted. “The Americans are desperate to get as much information as possible about Iran’s combat readiness. There will be more such attempts coming up and we must be ready for them,” he added.

On Thursday, Iran’s Air Defense Forces wrapped up a large-scale military exercise across southern regions of the country with missile drills to target hostile drones.

The drill, codenamed Defenders of Velayat Skies 7, included detection and interception of the hypothetical enemy’s unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with homegrown missile systems. Iran’s Air Defense holds routine military exercises throughout the year. The country’s integrated air defense network protects 3,700 sensitive sites across the country, including nuclear facilities.

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