The CEO of the Iranian Defense Ministry’s Electronics Industries, Rear Admiral Amir Rastegari, claimed hacking two spy aircraft by EW (electronic warfare) systems near the country’s borders.
“Some time ago, an enemy aircraft moved within our FIR [Flight information region] borders and started emitting waves to gather intelligence, we disrupted the activity of the aircraft. The pilot of the aircraft thought that the system had a problem, so he called the base that the aircraft system had a problem and I will return; We have their conversations,” said Rastegari in an interview with Tasnim news agency.
“The next day, two more planes flew and started spying, this time, we disrupted both of them because we have achieved the capability in that bandwidth,” he claimed.
Rastegari added – “We have been engaged in electronic warfare for many years to protect the country’s space and air border, and every attacker who has tested it has realized our power.”
Earlier, Iranian naval commander Shahram Irani claimed on state television on April 20 that the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy (IRIN) forced a US Navy submarine to surface as it entered the Gulf. The claims were, however, denied by the US Fifth Fleet responsible for operations in the Middle East.
Shahram Irani told state media, “The US submarine was approaching while submerged, but the Iranian submarine Fateh detected it and carried out maneuvers to force it to surface as it went through the Strait (of Hormuz). It had also entered our territorial waters but corrected its course after being warned.”
This submarine “had approached the waters of Iran to some extent,” according to Admiral Irani, who said, “With the necessary warnings and with an escort, it changed its route and continued its way out.”
Irani further clarified that the American submarine in question was a “modern nuclear submarine named Florida” that had breached Iranian territorial waters in defiance of international law.
The navy commander called the US submarine’s action unprofessional and risky, adding that Iran would unquestionably report it to the appropriate international organizations to hold Washington accountable for invading Iranian sovereignty in the Strait of Hormuz.
⚡️Iran’s Navy says its Fateh (Conqueror) submarine has issued a stern warning to a nuclear-powered US submarine in the Strait of Hormuz, forcing it to surface. pic.twitter.com/tsF4cRowSe
— Al Qud's ?? ?? ?? (@tpyxame) April 20, 2023
The claims made by the Iranian Navy Commander were immediately dismissed by the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, which in turn termed the claims “disinformation.” “A US submarine has not transited the Strait of Hormuz today or recently,” Commander Timothy Hawkins told Reuters.
Earlier this month, a spokesperson of the US Navy had announced that the service deployed a guided-missile submarine capable of carrying up to 154 Tomahawk missiles to the Middle East. The move was seen as a show of military force as tensions with Iran rose.
Iran's claim is absolutely false. A U.S. submarine has NOT transited the Strait of Hormuz recently. The claim represents more Iranian disinformation that destabilizes the region. U.S. 5th Fleet continues to operate wherever international law allows. https://t.co/BDLHNlGASB
— U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. 5th Fleet (@US5thFleet) April 20, 2023
The US Navy rarely acknowledges submarine deployment or location. It did not disclose the submarine’s mission and the circumstances surrounding its deployment.
The sea patrols by US surface vessels and transit by its submarines through the Strait of Hormuz are not new. The strategic Strait of Hormuz, the Persian Gulf’s slender entrance from which 20% of the world’s oil passes, is patrolled by the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.
The broader region frequented by the US Navy includes the Bab el-Mandeb Strait off Yemen and the Red Sea up to the Suez Canal, the Egyptian canal connecting the Middle East to the Mediterranean Sea. However, the encounters between Iranian and US Navies in the region have become more frequent.
Although the US Navy has categorically denied the encounter claimed by Iran, it comes at a time when tensions between the two bitter adversaries remain at an all-time high – partly due to Iran’s support of Russia’s war effort against Ukraine. Iran has constantly been supplying UAVs to Russia, for which it has been slapped with additional sanctions by the West.
The Rise In Confrontation Between Iran & The West
In recent years, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Israel have accused Iran of targeting oil tankers and commercial ships. However, Tehran has refuted these claims. According to the US Navy, the Iranian soldiers have engaged in tense maritime confrontations with American ships.
In May 2021, the Pentagon said 13 fast boats from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) came within 140 meters (459ft) of US vessels. In retaliation, the US Navy vessels fired about 30 warning shots at the Iranian boats and left the scene.
Leveling the accusations on the Iranian Navy, Pentagon Spokesperson John Kirby had said, “It’s unsafe, it’s unprofessional. It’s the kind of activity that can lead to somebody getting hurt and can lead to a real miscalculation there in the region. That doesn’t serve anybody’s interests.”
Last fall, the IRIN seized two US Navy Saildrone Explorer unmanned surface vessels (USVs) in the Red Sea. It released them later after the US Navy dispatched two destroyers, the USS Nitze and USS Delbert D Black, and two helicopters to secure their release.
While the incident triggered another spate of tensions between the two countries, it did not end there. In December of the same year, the US Central Command accused an Iranian patrol boat of trying to temporarily blind US Navy ships in the Strait of Hormuz by shining a spotlight at them.
The said Iranian vessel then came within 150 yards of the US vessel.
The US Navy and its other Western allies have alleged that IRGC vessels frequently attempt to intercept or harass the Navy and Coast Guard ships of the Western countries operating in the region. Although the recent incident has been dismissed as fake, it can potentially escalate the high tensions between the two adversaries.