Iran has announced that in the past six months it has chased away a US U2 spy plane and an RQ-4 reconnaissance drone from its airspace.
United States and Iran do not have any formal diplomatic relations or ties and share an acrimonious relationship. In 1953, the CIA played a key role in orchestrating a coup against Iran's democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadeq. Between 1979 and 1981, a group of Iranian students belonging to the Muslim Student Followers of the Imam's Line, took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. The 44 hostages were released after 444 days. In 2002, US President, George W Bush, described Iran as being part of the “axis of evil.”
In 2011, Iran captured an American Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The nation announced that the vehicle had been brought down in northeastern Iran. At first, US denied that the vehicle belonged to them. However, Iran maintained that it was able to capture the UAV through its cyberwarfare unit. In addition, Iran also lodged a formal complaint with the UN arguing that the vehicle violated its airspace. Then US President Barack Obama acknowledged that the shot down vehicle belonged to the US and requested that it be returned. Iran dismissed the request. Iran has claimed that it was able to decipher decoded messages from the captured drone.
Relations between US and Iran have further deteriorated in 2017. US President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized the nuclear deal that had been struck by P5+1 and Iran. He has argued that the deal should be cancelled and sanctions should be restored on the country. US has also imposed new sanctions on Iran in 2017. Iran has stated that it will respond “intelligently” to US sanctions.
In August 2017, IAEA released a report stating that Iran was complying with the UN watchdog’s specifications regarding its nuclear program.
According to media reports from Iran, the nation has reportedly chased away a US spy plane and a US drone in the past six months. The two vehicles forced to allegedly change courses are U2 spy plane and an RQ-4 reconnaissance drone. The incidents are said to have taken place in March and in August respectively.
Fars news agency in Iran has quoted Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili, commander of the Iran’s air defense force as noting, “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.” He added, “Iran will never allow such hostile planes to approach its airspace and would not hesitate to bring them down if necessary.”
The US government so far has not confirmed or denied these allegations.
Our assessment is that Iranian air defense has the capability to detect incoming drones and spy planes. We feel that if Iran is able to capture a US drone or a spy plane, then it would significantly compromise US intelligence. This is not something that America can afford.