Iranian Navy tests a U.S. drone in the Red Sea

Iran unveils underground air force base with drones and missiles
Iran unveils underground air force base with drones and missiles

U.S. military officials have dismissed claims that Iranian naval drones are a threat.

An Iranian warship shot down two U.S. navy drones in the Red Sea on Thursday, but they were released on Friday and chased away by U.S. destroyers.

Iranian state media reported on Friday that the Iranian Navy warship Jamalan had been ordered to “leave international sea lanes” for unmanned marine explorers.

According to reports, a video released by Iranian media showed the ship’s crew then threatening a U.S. warship to approach police and throw the drone to shoot it down.

A US defense official confirmed the incident to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, but rejected the Iranian version of the story, saying that two US Navy destroyers were operating nearby and the Iranian vessel had track the international ship after the drone picks it up. up. they lift the water, melt, and begin to swim.

“They not only towed him but also put him on board,” the official said. The official requested anonymity because the US Navy has not released a report on the incident.

The US destroyers tracked the Iranian destroyer for hours and warned the crew that they were US government property, the official said. Jamalan’s crew denied the charges and continued to sail.

When a US MH-60 Seahawk helicopter, launched by one of the destroyers, approached the destroyer “within line of sight”, US officials said, the crew rushed to the plane and tried to tried to cover the drone with a tarp, US officials said.

“Finally, he admitted that he would return before nightfall he was asked to return with orders from his superiors. But for security reasons, he wanted to wait until dawn to back,” the official said.

The US warships set sail after spotting the Iranian ships early Friday morning.

Why it matters: Iranian forces attempted to seize a 23-foot sailing boat in Middle Eastern waters for the second time this week. This is also the Iranian Navy’s first attempt and the first in the Red Sea.

US officials said on Monday that an Iranian naval vessel, the IRGC, attempted to intercept a Saildron aircraft in the Persian Gulf. Shahid Bazar’s crew attached the cable to the drone and started towing it. According to the US 5th Fleet, the ship’s crew survived after being alerted by the aircraft carrier USS Thunder.

The Iranian Navy and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are separate forces, but their command structures have merged in recent years. Both were eventually overseen by the Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Major General Mohammad Bagheri of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Task Force 59 of the 5th Fleet has been testing commercial and naval drones over the past 11 months to monitor smuggling and other maritime activities on the sea lanes. area, while the Pentagon has deployed several forces to other parts of the world. Strategic competition with China.

The commander of the 5th Fleet, Lieutenant General Bradley Cooper said in April:

“The area is too large for us to operate alone.”

Task Force 59 expects to have 100 Navy drones in the country next summer and plans to call on regional navies to collaborate on a project that is seen as a potential model for the Navy. the US-led international AI data integration.

Lieutenant General Brad Cooper of the 5th Fleet recently told the Wall Street Journal that the drones detected unusual exchanges between ships in the area and Chinese warships.

Monday’s incident was the first attempt by Iran’s Task Force 59 to intercept a drone, US officials said. Iranian media quoted an unnamed military official as saying that naval drones have wreaked havoc in the waters since they appeared on the region’s waterways.

A US defense official who spoke to Al-Monitor on Friday denied the claim, saying the drone had been operating “accidentally” for nearly a year.

“We’re watching them carefully. We’re not just leaving them there,” the official said.

In recent years, Iran has been involved in a number of devastating attacks on merchant ships in Middle Eastern waterways. Tehran generally denies the allegations.

What’s next: Without the Fifth Fleet as a reliable deterrent, commanders can prepare for another game of cat and mouse. The Iranian naval drones  can be more stealthy when trying to defeat Task Force 59.