by WorldTribune Staff, September 5, 2017
The commander of Iran’s air defense force said Teheran warned away two U.S. spy aircraft in recent months and “would not hesitate” to shoot down such craft in the future.
Brig. Gen. Farzad Esmaili said an unmanned U.S. RQ-4 drone was diverted near Iranian air space on Aug. 26.
Esmaili said an American U2 plane had been chased away in March, Fars news agency reported.
“When the warning was given to the pilot of this (U2) plane at the Strait of Hormuz, he knew that he was being targeted by two separate radars … and missile systems,” Esmaili said.
“Iran will never allow such hostile planes to approach its airspace and would not hesitate to bring them down if necessary,” Esmaili added, according to the Tasnim news agency.
Esmaili also noted that Iran successfully tested the S-300 surface-to-air missile system purchased from Russia. “The system was successfully tested during Damavand military drill and is functioning properly,” he said. “Meanwhile, before its arrival, necessary infrastructure for the establishment of the S-300 had been created through indigenous technologies,”
U.S. officials have frequently complained of what they call unsafe and unprofessional interactions by Iranian maritime forces in the Gulf this year. Iran has said its forces act within their rights to protect Iranian territorial waters.
Last week, a U.S. Navy patrol ship fired warning shots at an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) boat in the Persian Gulf as it closed in on the American vessel, U.S. officials said.
The IRGC denied approaching the U.S. ship and said it was the American vessel that had been at fault.
“The supercarrier USS Nimitz and its accompanying warship, while being monitored by the Guards’ frigates, flew a helicopter near the Resalat oil and gas platform and approached the force’s ships,” the IRGC said in a statement. “The Americans in a provocative and unprofessional move, sent a warning message to the frigates and fired flares.”