A senior Iranian commander says the Islamic Republic will firmly deal with any foreign drones seeking to intrude into the country’s airspace, especially over nuclear sites.
Commander of Iran’s Khatam al-Anbiya Air Defense Base Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili said on Friday that the Iranian air defense was tasked with controlling aerial routes and corridors as well as sensitive sites, including nuclear ones.
“The Iranian air defense shows very high sensitivity towards vital and nuclear sites and anyone seeking to fly over these sites will face severe consequences,” he added.
He said that Iran has issued more than 30 warnings to foreign aircraft since the beginning of the current Iranian year, which started on March 21.
In a statement in August, Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) said its forces had intercepted and shot down an Israeli spy drone with a surface-to-air missile. The Israeli-made Hermes drone was heading to Natanz nuclear facility in the central Iranian province of Isfahan.
On the same day the UAV was brought down, Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan warned that the Islamic Republic would give a crushing response to any enemy aggression against Iran.
This is not the first time that Iran’s airspace has been the target of espionage activities.
In December 2011, a US RQ-170 Sentinel stealth aircraft was downed with minimal damage by the Iranian Army’s electronic warfare unit. The drone was flying over the Iranian city of Kashmar, some 140 miles (225 km) from the Afghan border when it was brought down.
The IRGC also captured a US ScanEagle drone over the Persian Gulf waters upon its intrusion into the Iranian airspace in December 2012.