According to a senior Iranian commander, several reconnaissance aircraft, including some U-2 spyplanes, have been frighten away by Tehran air defenses as they flew close to Iran’s airspace.
On Dec. 22, General Shahrokh Shahram, Lieutenant Commander of Khatam ol-Anbia Air Defense Base said that Iran’s air defense units scared away several surveillance planes, including some U.S. U-2 Dragon Lady spyplanes that were flying near the borders of Tehran FIR (Flight Information Region).
“During yesterday and today [Dec. 21 and 22] warnings have been issued to several reconnaissance aircraft of the trans-regional states which were flying near the FIR (Flight Information Region) of the country’s borders[..] Some of these were U-2 spyplanes” Shahram said according to FNA (Fars News Agency).
FNA speculates the aircraft may be spying on Iran ahead of “Mohammad Rasoulallah (PBUH)” drills, scheduled between Dec. 25 and 31.
Earlier this month an Iranian top officer, Air Defense Commander Brigadier General Farzad Esmayeeli, said that a U-2 “stealth aircraft” flying close to Iran’s airspace was tracked, warned and somehow forced to make a U-turn by Iranian missile systems, “even though this type of plane can’t be picked up by any radar screen.”
Coated with RAM (Radar Absorbing Material) and designed to be hard to detect on radars, the U.S. Air Force U-2 is not considered a real stealth aircraft, even if it embeds radar-evading features.
U.S. Air Force U-2s have been operating in the region for years departing from Al Dhafra airbase in the UAE.
Indeed, although it may struggle against cruise missiles and modern stealth bombers, especially if accompanied by significant EW (Electronic Warfare) support, Iran’s air defense system, with its batteries along the coast (one of those is Bandar Abbas in the south of the country) can pose a significant threat to several aircraft, including U-2s or UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) flying over the Persian Gulf and the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
Iran reportedly shot down an Israeli drone near Natanz nuclear enrichment facility in central Iran last August. Finding the small drone is like finding needle in a haystack General Esmayeeli said addressing a students gathering on Dec. 7. “We should take good care not to harm passenger planes when identifying and shooting down such drones,” he said.
A classified Pentagon report obtained by The New York Times in 2012 claimed that Iranian SAM batteries had fired at civil planes at least three times between 2007 and 2008.
Some of our readers may have seen it already. For all the others, here is a funny video filmed during the press conference held in Portugal last April to showcase the new coastal surveillance UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) of the Portuguese Navy.
The video speaks for itself: just like a large paper airplane, the hand-launched drone immediately plummets and crashes into the water.
The mishap occurred while Portugal’s Defense Minister José Pedro Aguiar-Branco was visiting a naval base near Lisbon and, according to local reports, was caused by a “launch sequence” affected by some part of the airframe clipping the special operator who was launching it.
Fortunately, a second attempt to launch the drone was successful. Too late to save the reputation of the small UAS…
All you need to know about the Iranian involvement in the air strikes against ISIS in Iraq.
Al Jazeera footage aired a few days ago exposed an IRIAF F-4 Phantom performing an air strike on ISIS positions in Iraq.
The news of a cooperation between Washington and Tehran, later confirmed by the Pentagon, quickly spread across the world and images of the Iranian Phantoms in the colors of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force have appeared on worldwide media outlets. But the Iranian contribution to the air war on ISIS includes other assets.
An insight into the IRIAF missions in Iraq was provided by Iranian defense expert Babak Taghvaee, a very well known author of several publications about the Iranian air forces and a regular contributor to some of the most read aviation magazines.
Taghvaee summed up the key features about the Iranian air raids in an email to The Aviationist.
– 18th to 20th November, several interdiction sorties were performed by the 2nd and 4th TFB’s F-5s in the Diyala province.
– Between Nov. 20t and Nov. 23 November, the RF-4Es of IRIAF and UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) of the IRGC-ASF (Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp Aerospace Force) performed recce sorties over Jalula and Saadia.
– Between Nov. 23 and Nov. 30, the F-4Es of the 3rd TFB and 9th TFB performed CAS (Close Air Support) sorties for the Kurdish Peshmerga, Badr militia and Iraqi SpecOps.
– On Dec. 1 and 2, four Su-24MKs performed several combat air patrols and on-call CAS sorties deep inside Iraqi borders.
– On 29th and 30th November, the indigenous Sattar 4 LGBs and GBU-78/A Ghased TV guided bombs were used against the Daesh’s strongholds and heavy trucks successfully for first time in battle zone.
In conclusion, the Kurds and Iraqis retrieved the cities of Jalula and Saadia under fire support of IRIAF.
“The Americans had full coordination with Iranians during the combat sorties of IRIAF,” Taghvee highlighted.
Indeed, although it was theoretically possible for Iranian planes to fly inside Iraq without any coordination with other air forces operating in the same airspace, it would have been suicidal. For proper deconfliction of tactical assets, prior coordination and air space management and control are required.
There are several aircraft performing Airspace Control, Airborne Early Warning over Syria and Iraq: no plane could fly undetected in the area.
Anyway, we can’t but notice that, when called into action, the Iranian air force can conduct real combat missions in a low lethality scenario with a variety of (ageing) tactical planes and UAVs: facts that could fuel a much more credible propaganda than that made of some weird or totally fake claims we have commented in the past.
Along with the KC-767s, already supporting the coalition forces with an aerial refueling capability, Rome has committed four Tornado IDS and two Predator drones to the war on ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
The Italian Air Force is about to move four Tornado IDS attack planes, belong to the 6° Stormo, from Ghedi airbase, to Kuwait, to join the US-led coalition that is fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria. According to DefenseNews, the aircraft are going to be based at Ahmed Al Jaber air base in Kuwait, the same country where Rome has deployed one of its brand new KC-767 tankers.
For this kind of mission, the aircraft usually carry a Rafael Reccelite reconnaissance pod: the Reccelite is a Day/Night electro-optical pod able to provide real-time imagery collection. It is made of a stabilized turret, solid-state on board recorder that provides image collections in all directions, from high, medium and low altitudes.
The Reccelite reconnaissance pod is used to broadcast live video imagery via datalink to ground stations and to ROVER (Remote Operations Video Enhanced Receiver) tactical receivers in a range of about 100 miles.
The pod can also be carried by the AMX ACOL, the light tactical jet that has performed close air support/air interdiction and ISR missions in support of ISAF from 2009 until the summer of 2014.
The Italian Air Force operates a mixed force of 6 MQ-9 Reaper and 6 MQ-1C Predator both assigned to the 28° Gruppo (Squadron) of the 32° Stormo (Wing).
The Italian UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) have already operated in Iraq between January 2005 and 2006 when the first RQ-1 Predator A was deployed to Tallil airbase, in Iraq. Later, two Predator A+ (designated MQ-1C A+ a standard to which all the former RQ-1 were upgraded) were deployed to Herat, in Afghanistan, to perform a wide array of missions: mainly MEDEVAC (Medical Evacuation), support to TIC (Troops In Contact), IED (Improvised Explosive Devices) monitoring and Convoy Escort.
The Italian unarmed drones will probably be involved in High Value Target surveillance and Reconnaissance (and, maybe special ops support).
Although it was not disclosed, most probably Predators will be employed in Iraq as they were employed in Afghanistan: in accordance with the so-called Remote Split Operations (RSO). During RSO, aircraft is launched from a local, in theater airbase, under direct line-of-sight control of the local MGCS (Mobile Ground Control Station).
Then, by means of satellite data link, it is taken on charge and guided from Amendola. When the assigned mission is completed, it is once again handed over to a pilot in Afghanistan, who lands it back to Herat airbase. The 1-second delay introduced by the satellite link is not compatible with the most delicate phases of flight; hence, aircraft are launched and recovered in line-of-sight by the deployed MCGS (US drones use the same kind of remote control).
Eventually, a video allegedly showing the copy of Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) drone manufactured by reverse-engineering of U.S. Sentinel drone captured in December 2011 was released.
On Nov. 10, Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, announced that a domestic version of the RQ-170 drone, modified to carry out both bombing and reconnaissance missions, had made its maiden flight.
“The footage of its flight will be released soon,” he told reporters.
Eventually, a video showing the copy of the Sentinel flying somewhere over Iran, filmed both from the ground and from an accompanying helicopter has been released.
The footage of the flying drone looks genuine; what seems to be a bit weird is the sequence of the RQ-170 landing on the runway: more than a UAV, the aircraft moves and reacts to the remote pilot’s input as a small remotely piloted scale model….
Since the first prototype was a smaller copy of the Sentinel (60% the size of the original RQ-170) which flew about four months ago, one might wonder whether the landing drone depicted in the footage is not the full scale replica but the smaller original prototype.
Furthermore, some frames of the landing video seem to be computer generated.