General Alireza Sabahi Fard, commander of the Khatam ol-Anbiya Air Defence Base in Iran, has publicly announced that his country now has an integrated radar system capable of detecting various types of US warplanes, including stealth aircraft, the FARS News Agency reports.
"Today, we have gained full self-sufficiency in area of radar systems and powerfully detect different advanced US planes and give them warning," Gen. Sabahi Fard said at a press conference in Tehran on 29 July.
The general also lauded the strides that Iran has made in developing defensive weapon systems which, he says “have made enemies realise that if they want to start a conflict with us, they will receive heavy blows.”
The media outlet says that last month Iran unveiled its new "Khordad 15" surface-to-air missile system, with Iranian Defence Minister Amir Hatami, noting that the new weapon can track airborne targets 150 km away and engage them at a distance of up to 120 km.
"It can also trace stealth targets in areas 85 km in distance, and destroy them at a distance of 45 km", he added.
On 20 June, the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps reported that they shot down a US RQ-4 Global Hawk drone over Iran’s Hormuzgan province.
While the US Central Command did admit to losing the UAV, they insisted that the drone was attacked while flying over international waters in the Strait of Hormuz.
Rising Tensions in the Gulf
Relations between Washington and Tehran have taken a turn for the worse since May 2018 when the United States unilaterally withdrew from the Iranian nuclear deal and adopted a "maximum pressure" policy aimed at forcing Iran to seek a new deal more favourable to the United States.
Tensions escalated further when on 4 July UK Royal Marines seized the Iranian tanker Grace 1in the Strait of Gibraltar, on suspicion that the vessel was transporting oil to Syria and was therefore in violation of EU sanctions against the country – allegations that were denied by Tehran which slammed the seizure as an illegal act.
Then on 19 July, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) seized the UK-flagged Stena Impero oil tanker for an alleged violation of maritime laws. Iran insisted that this was not done in retaliation for the Grace 1 incident.
Following these developments, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the United States is now seeking to create an international coalition to patrol the Strait of Hormuz "to keep those shipping lanes, those sea lanes open," with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani arguing in response that the presence of "foreign forces" in the region won’t help improve security but "will be the main factor for tension" instead.