An Iranian news agency sparked fears of an international standoff and left the Pentagon scrambling to identify its planes today after it reported that a US jet had strayed into its territory and been forced to land.
The semi-official Fars News Agency this afternoon said that five US military officials and three civilians were interrogated at an unnamed Iranian airport after accidentally straying into the Islamic Republic’s airspace.
They were released after it was established that the plane had not entered the territory intentionally, the agency said, adding that it did not know when the incident had happened.
After hastily investigating the claims, however, the Pentagon poured scorn on them.
The US said that all of its planes in the Middle East had been identified and none had recently been missing or involved in any incident.
“According to the combined air operations centre, all our aircraft are accounted for and we have no reports of any aircraft landing in Iran,” US Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Ryder said.
As the story unfolded, a senior Iranian military official told Iranian state television’s Arabic-language channel Al-Alam that what was said to be a military jet was, in fact, a private Hungarian business aircraft and that no Americans were on board. It added that the incident dated back to September 30.
“The airplane is now being confirmed as a light transport plane with no Americans onboard,” US military spokesman Lieutenant David Russell said. – times
Don’t assume that everyone is dumb just because they seem to be. One wild guess is that the US just turned on some new communications system and this was Iran’s intelligence investigation of how the US knows where all of its military jets are. We supposedly did flyovers to find out how good their radar is, for example, (see this.). There is a new communications system that may be coming on line about now according to a quick google search.
… As in Milstar, the AEHF System crosslinks will enhance routing and reduce vulnerability to terrestrial disruption. The new crosslinks will operate at several times the current Milstar data rate.
By 2010, about 2500 terminals are expected in the protected communications inventory for the Air Force, Navy, Army, and Marines. Portable, mobile, and fixed terminals with low, medium, and high data rates will support ground units, aircraft, surface ships, and submarines.” –aero