Iran refrained from shooting down a manned U.S. Navy plane that was accompanying the downed RQ-4A Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) over the Persian Gulf, Brig. Gen. Amirali Hajizadeh, head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) aerospace division, revealed on June 21.
“With the U.S. drone in the region there was also an American P-8 plane with 35 people on board. This plane also entered our airspace and we could have shot it down, but we did not,” the Iranian Tasnim news agency quoted Brig. Gen. Hajizadeh as saying.
Boeing’s P-8 Poseidon, which was first introduced in 2013, is equipped with an array of signal intelligence (SIGINT), electronic intelligence (ELINT) and electronic warfare (EW) systems.
The IRGC’s aerospace division used the locally-made Khordad-3 air-defense system armed with Sayyad-2C missiles to shot down the RQ-4A. While the Khordad-3 system is designed after the Soviet Buk missile system, the Sayyad-2C is actually an Iranian copy of the US-made RIM-66 Standard missile.
The Iranian air-defense system is well-capable of shooting down planes like the P-8, that is incapable of maneuvering and has a service ceiling of 12km only. Brig. Gen. Hajizadeh’s statement is a clear warning to the U.S, which is reportedly still considering a “limited attack” on Iran.