Without ceremony: Iran urged to destroy U.S. aircraft
Influential academics send a letter to the military elite
The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) was called upon to open fire on any U.S. combat aircraft that could invade Iranian airspace. A letter to this effect was sent by 840 local academics to Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the IRGC Air and Space Forces (AAF). The message was a reaction to the redeployment of U.S. strategic bombers to the Middle East region and to rumors of a “farewell” strike on Iran by President Donald Trump’s administration.
The letter from a group of academic researchers states that the Iranian military elite should primarily monitor the movement of U.S. B-52 aircraft in the region. Hajizadeh is referred to by Iranian academics as nothing less than “conqueror Ain al-Asad.” The reference is to an Iranian missile strike on January 8, 2020, against the U.S. forces’ Ain al-Asad base in retaliation for the elimination of influential IRGC General Qassem Suleimani in the same month. The commander of the IRGC Air Force is called upon to order the firing of any “enemy planes and ships” that dare cross the republic’s water or air borders.
It is specifically noted that in 2019, IRGC forces managed to shoot down a Northrop Grumman MQ4-C Triton unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that belonged to the U.S. Navy. The drone then crossed the border in the sky over the Gulf of Oman, probably to gather intelligence. It was struck by Iranian-made air defenses.
The reason for Tehran’s fears so far seems to be the redeployment of American B-52 bombers to the Middle East late last year. In a then-new press statement from the U.S. Central Command press office, the Pentagon intended to deliberately demonstrate its capability “to underscore its commitment to regional security” and reaffirm its “unique ability to deploy overwhelming combat power without delay” in different locations around the world, the press office of the Central Command (CENTCOM) wrote. The deployment of strategic bombers in the region, it was noted, was a “clear deterrent signal” sent to “anyone who wants to harm Americans or American interests.” The determination to use a military scenario was also confirmed in these weeks by the dispatch of American and Israeli submarines to the Persian Gulf region. However, after the unrest in Washington, attention to these movements has decreased.
Despite all the obvious bellicosity of U.S. moves toward Iran in recent months, any quick response against foreign aircraft in Iranian skies can lead to unpredictable consequences. This is evidenced by the story of the Boeing 737 of Ukraine International Airlines, which crashed just minutes after taking off from Tehran airport last January due to the firing of Iranian air forces. As a result of an unintended (as Iranian authorities claim) strike on the civil plane, 176 people were killed, among them were citizens not only of Ukraine and Iran but also Afghanistan, Germany, Canada, as well as citizens of Sweden and Britain. The technical report of the crash is still to be submitted this year after approval by the structures of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). But Britain, Canada, Sweden, Afghanistan, and Ukraine recalled this month that they wanted “full” compensation for the families of the dead and the injured. This tragedy cannot but determine any IRGC response.