Baku, Azerbaijan, Aug. 30
By Umid Niayesh - Trend:
Israel may be testing Iran's air defense capacities, Iranian military expert Hossein Aryan told Trend on Aug 30, commenting on reports about alleged Israeli spy drone which was downed by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) on Aug. 23.
The IRGC claimed that it shot down an Israeli drone near the country's uranium enrichment facility in Natanz, some 240 kilometers south of the capital, Tehran on Aug. 23.
"If Iran's claims are true, Israel may have various reasons of sending a drone over Iran's air space, including testing the Islamic Republic's defensive power," Aryan said.
It also maybe considered as a power-showing move, which carries the "we are able to send aircrafts over the heart of your sensitive nuclear sites" message, Aryan noted.
Aryan believes that if the drone came from Israel's side, and managed to reach the sensitive Natanz nuclear site, it indicates that Iran is not able to effectively prevent such actions.
On the other hand, Aryan said the purpose of sending a drone into Iran may have been spying.
The expert also highlighted Iranian officials' contradictions on the issue.
"While defending Iran's air space is under the responsibility of army, the reports say that the drone was downed by the IRGC," Aryan said. "Maybe army has delegated its responsibility to IRGC in this specific case which is possible."
Iran claimed the drone was launched from the territory of one of the countries, neighboring with Iran. The expert said it was interesting that Israel didn't send the drone directly, but used another country as a launching ground.
Aryan added that Israel actually does have power to dispatch its drones to Iran's air zone from it's own territory.
After the drone was downed by Iran, Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili, commander of the Iranian Air Defense Base said that the country's air defense bases traced the Israel drone for about 43 minutes after it entered Iran's territory.
Considering the Hermes-type drone's maximum speed which reaches 176 kmh, the drone only was able to travel 130 kilometers through Iran - which is far away from the Natanz plant in central Iran.
Brigadier-General Hossein Salami, deputy commander of the IRGC said that "the Israeli drone was identified upon arrival in Iranian airspace, however permitted to fly to determine its goal."
Aryan believes such statement can't be taken seriously.
"If Iran was able to down the drone without damages, it would have done that," he underlined.
The expert explained that if Iran's electronic warfare units were able to hack and capture the Israeli drone before shooting it down, the country would be able to read its preloaded data and understand the destination without permitting it to travel further.
Aryan argued that the statements are actually excuses for justification the gaps in the country's defensive power in confronting with the drones.