25 August 2010

The Phantoms are a Menace

There's more than one reason to treat the unveiling of Iran's new killer drone with a bit of skepticism.  No fewer than three of Iran's super-scary drones have been shot down over the course of the past week.

By vintage F-4 Phantom fighters.

Iran's F-4 Phantom fighters.  The ones we sold them before the 1978 Revolution.

According to the Wall Street Journal (with a H/T to the Great Satan's Girlfriend):

While some have expressed concern over a confrontation with the Iranian Navy in the Persian Gulf, it seems increasingly possible that the US could instead face a collapsing Iran.
The Iranian regime loves to boast of its military strength, international clout and hold on domestic power. Much of this is accepted by outside experts, but in fact the regime is in trouble. Iran's leaders have lost legitimacy in the eyes of the people, are unable to manage the country's many problems, face a growing opposition, and are openly fighting with one another.

A few weeks ago, according to official and private reports, the Iranian air force shot down three drones near the southwestern city of Bushehr, where a Russian-supplied nuclear reactor has just started up. When the Revolutionary Guards inspected the debris, they expected to find proof of high-altitude spying. Instead, the Guards had to report to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei that the air force had blasted Iran's own unmanned aircraft out of the sky.

Apparently, according to official Iranian press accounts, the Iranian military had created a special unit to deploy the drones—some for surveillance and others, as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad bragged on Sunday, to carry bombs—but hadn't informed the air force.  [Ed. note:  Learn about the Air Tasking Order, Luke]

These incidents have taken place against a general backdrop of internal conflict within the regime. In late July, Mohammad Ali Jaffari, commander of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, the regime's Praetorian Guard, admitted publicly that many top officers were supporters of the opposition Green Movement. Shortly thereafter, according to official government announcements, some 250 officers suddenly resigned. In the past weeks, several journalists from the Guards' FARS news agency have defected, some to France and others to the United States.


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