Article by David Axe August 28, 2019 (nationalinterest.org)
• A 2013 story by Babak Taghvaee in Combat Aircraft magazine claimed that Iranian fighter jets have encountered mysterious ‘CIA spy drones’ flying over Iran’s nuclear power sites looking for an atomic weapons program. In 2012, one of these ‘flying robots’ reportedly also shot down an Iranian F-14 fighter jet attempting to intercept it.
• Tehran’s two major nuclear reactor facilities at Bushehr and Arak and an enrichment plant at Natanz became public knowledge in 2002. In 2004, Iran deployed a task force of refurbished fighter jets to prevent an attack on those facilities by ‘Western forces’ concerned that these facilities could be used to assemble atomic weapons. The Iranian jets encountered what it believed were CIA drones with “astonishing flight characteristics.”
• Apparently, these ‘CIA drones’ were able to jam radars and navigation systems, hover, fly at night, and fly “outside of the atmosphere” at speeds of up to Mach 10. Also, these drones emitted a blue light that led to their nickname: “luminous objects”. Taghvaee writes, “In several cases … F-14s faced them but were unable to operate their armament systems properly,”. One fighter jet taking off to intercept a luminous object on January 26, 2012 mysteriously exploded, killing both crewmen. Taghvaee implies the alleged drone was somehow responsible.
• Do the US Air Force and the CIA have a secret stealth drone that is capable of Mach-10 hypersonic flight while the American military’s best fighter jets struggle to reach Mach five? Probably not. These unmanned aerial vehicles’ flight characteristics and capabilities are far beyond what any known drone can achieve. So then, what are the Iranian F-14s chasing up there?
Iran is the only other country besides the United States to operate arguably history’s most powerful interceptor aircraft, the F-14 Tomcat. And the Islamic republic has worked the twin-engine, swing-wing fighters hard.
The F-14s played a major role in Iran’s war with Iraq from 1980 to 1988. Iranian Tomcat pilots were the only ones to successfully employ the F-14’s long-range, heavyweight AIM-54 Phoenix missile to shoot down enemy planes.
In the decades after the war, Tehran repaired and upgraded the surviving F-14s, scouring the globe for parts in defiance of a U.S. government embargo.
The Americans retired their F-14s in 2006, but around 40 of Iran’s Tomcats remain active. Their main role is defending Iran’s nuclear sites. It’s a mission that has brought the interceptors in close contact with some very mysterious aircraft, according to a bizarre and fascinating 2013 story in Combat Aircraft magazine by reporter Babak Taghvaee.
The Iranians believed the objects were spy drones belonging to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, sent to sniff out Tehran’s suspected atomic weapons program. But they attribute to these alleged unmanned aerial vehicles flight characteristics and capabilities far beyond what any known drone can achieve.
And in 2012 one of the alleged flying robots reportedly also shot down an F-14 attempting to intercept it. Or at least some Iranians seem genuinely to believe so.
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