Air raid sirens went off in western Tehran for several minutes late on Friday, January 29th, 2021 according to videos shared by Iranian social media users.
January 30th, 2021
In a disputed claim, “Israeli F-35 jets did not enter Iran’s skies late on Friday as air raid sirens were sounded in the capital Tehran” a news agency affiliated with the country’s Revolutionary Guards reported on Saturday citing a military official.
The unnamed official denied, “rumors” of Israeli F-35 jets entering Iran’s skies and said that, “last night’s incident had nothing to do with air threats that would activate the country’s air defense system,” Tasnim news agency reported.
Around the same time, a Turkish Airlines flight from Istanbul to Tehran circled above the Iranian capital before being diverted away. A Flight Radar 24 path of the airplane showed it changed its flight path to Baku around the same time reports of the sirens being heard in Tehran emerged. It’s possible this was in order to avoid another possible tragedy similar to when Iranian Air Defense forces shot down a Ukrainian commercial jetliner PS-752, in January 2020. It is reported that all 176 passengers including a pregnant woman were killed. More information on that story here.
The two events are “unrelated,” Iran’s state TV reported, citing unnamed sources.
In July 2018, a Kuwaiti newspaper reported that Israel had flown a test mission of at least three F-35 jets to Tehran and back from an airbase near Tel Aviv. While never confirmed publicly, a good number of military and political leaders in the region believed and still believe the story.
Israel has taken multiple opportunities to strike against Iran’s nuclear program and disrupt Iran’s power and defense infrastructure. The country maintains a zero tolerance policy to a nuclear capable Iran. This includes the Stuxnet Worm attack on Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities.
Stuxnet reportedly destroyed numerous centrifuges in Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment facility by causing them to burn themselves out. Over time, other groups modified the virus to target facilities including water treatment plants, power plants, and gas lines.
Iran has expressed it’s wishes multiple times, that it wants Israel to be removed from nationhood. Israel believes that a nuclear Iran would become emboldened in that end, if it had access to nuclear weapons technology.
In 2000, Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran stated, “Iran’s position, which was first expressed by the Imam [Khomeini] and stated several times by those responsible, is that the cancerous tumor called Israel must be uprooted from the region.” He went on to say in the same speech that “Palestinian refugees should return and Muslims, Christians and Jews could choose a government for themselves, excluding immigrant Jews.”
Asked by a reporter in Tehran about Israeli threats to strike Iranian forces deployed in Syria, in 2019 Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami was quoted by Iranian news outlets as saying, “Our strategy is to erase Israel from the global political map. And it seems that, considering the evil that Israel is doing, it is bringing itself closer to that.”
With all this volatility, the world looks to President Biden’s foreign policy with Iran.
Biden has expressed his intent to rejoin the much debated, “Iran Nuclear Deal” that President Trump left while in power. The 2015 deal put curbs on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the easing of crippling economic sanctions. Although the abandonment of the agreement was heavily criticized by Western Nations, Democratic rivals and some Republicans, Trumps removal of the U.S. from the deal was lauded by Israel and U.S. allies in the region. It is generally believed that despite instances of North Korea like outbursts, sanctions have greatly diminished Iran’s military capabilities and influence.
Israel, has expressed they do not want Biden entering any agreement that allows Iran to keep any nuclear infrastructure. They believe although Iran denies it, that the nuclear program is for the purpose of constructing weapons and not for Iran’s stated peaceful purposes of research and energy production.
The Associated Press reported that, “Israel’s military chief Tuesday warned the Biden administration against rejoining the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, even if it toughens its terms, adding he’s ordered his forces to step up preparations for possible offensive action against Iran during the coming year.”
In his address to the Institute for National Security Studies, Kohavi said a return to the deal, even with some improvements, “is bad operationally and it is bad strategically.” He said allowing Iran to proceed with a nuclear program would be “an unacceptable threat and will lead to nuclear proliferation across the region.”
According to the AP report, tensions around Iran have steadily increased. During Trump’s final days as president, Tehran seized a South Korean oil tanker and begun enriching uranium closer to weapons-grade levels, while the U.S. has sent B-52 bombers, the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier and a nuclear submarine into the region.
Iran has also increased its military drills, including firing cruise missiles as part of a naval drill in the Gulf of Oman this month.
Iran has missile capability of up to 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles), far enough to reach Israel and U.S. military bases in the region.
If the claims are true, how were F-35 fighters able to penetrate advanced Iranian Air Defense systems?
According to Lockheed Martin, an American Defense contractor, “the 5th Generation F-35 is critical to maintaining air dominance now and for decades to come. 5th Generation capability is defined by the combination of Very Low Observable stealth, advanced sensors, information fusion and network connectivity – all packaged within in a supersonic, long range, highly maneuverable fighter.”
They go on further to say, “With this advanced technology, the F-35 is a multi-role fighter capable of successfully executing any and all mission, including new missions not traditionally fulfilled by legacy fighters. Where 4th generation fighters are forced to adapt to this advancing battlespace, the F-35 shifts the power dynamic and is able to define the battlespace that our adversaries will need to adapt to.”
Lockheed says, “the F-35’s ability to collect, analyze and share data, is a powerful force multiplier that enhances all airborne, surface and ground-based assets in the battlespace.”
For more information on the capabilities of the F35 Fighter Program, visit Lockheed Martin’s site here.
Written by Sean Pepper
Sean is a director and consultant of sciences and technology at Icarus Consulting Corporation. He is an editor and contributor for The LearnED, focusing on politics, the global economy and health science related information.