IRGCN seize two US drone vessels seized in Red Sea
In the latest of a series of encounters, more than a dozen Iranian navy personnel push two US drones into the sea from the deck of their vessel.
An Iranian naval flotilla briefly seized two American military unmanned research vessels in the Red Sea before releasing them, Iranian state media reported on Friday.
The Iranian navy's "Jamaran destroyer encountered several American military unmanned research vessels on the international shipping route on Thursday while carrying out a counter-terrorism mission in the Red Sea," Iranian state TV said.
It added that the flotilla, "after warning an American destroyer twice, seized the two drone vessels to prevent possible accidents".
"After securing the passage of international shipping, the flotilla released the two vessels in a safe area," the state broadcaster continued, airing footage that shows the two US vessels being released by Iranian forces on board a ship.
The Pentagon revealed on Tuesday that an Iranian ship seized an American military drone vessel in the Gulf "after a US Navy patrol boat and helicopter were deployed to the location."
***BREAKING***#Iran's IRGC attempted to take a US Navy Saildrone Explorer uncrewed surface vessel (USV)— H I Sutton (@CovertShores) August 30, 2022
US Navy patrol boat, USS Thunderbolt (PC 12), intervened. Tow released.
Nod @ryankakiuchan pic.twitter.com/lrDdZ6RWLj
The US Central Command's 5th Fleet said a support ship from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy, the Shahid Baziar, was spotted towing the seven-meter (23-foot) Saildrone Explorer unmanned surface vessel (USV) late Monday.
US forces then sent the USS Thunderbolt coastal patrol ship and an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter.
That "resulted in the IRGCN vessel disconnecting the towing line to the USV and departing the area approximately four hours later" without further incident, the 5th Fleet said.
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Separately on Thursday, Iran's Navy said the same flotilla had foiled a pirate attack on an Iranian merchant vessel in the area. "A suspicious boat with 12 armed people on board approached the Iranian merchant ship in Bab al-Mandab" strait on Thursday, the state news agency IRNA said, citing a statement by the navy.
It said a squadron had come into confrontation with the "pirates in the Red Sea", adding that the boat "left the area" after the escort flotilla, "headed by the Jamaran destroyer... opened fire" at the vessel.
A senior Iranian navy commander said the same flotilla had thwarted an overnight attack on another vessel belonging to the Islamic republic on August 10.
Like other countries dependent on the shipping lane through the Red Sea and Suez Canal, Iran stepped up its naval presence in the Gulf of Aden after a wave of attacks by Somalia-based pirates between 2000 and 2011.
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This comes in light of the continued growth of Iranian naval capabilities, as the Iranian armed forces and IRGC periodically reveal the introduction of new equipment and technologies to its naval fleet.
Most recent military updates reveal that "Israel" has recently signed a $1 bln deal with Boeing to arm and militarize its arsenal with the latest purchase of four multi-mission KC-46 refueling tankers.
The Israelis perceive the tankers as a necessity to aggress against Iran, which is on the verge of signing a new version of the nuclear deal with the US.
On Wednesday, US Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks said that the US must accelerate and streamline its defense research programs in order to meet the challenges posed by evolving threats.
Hicks cited so-called threats from strategic competitors such as China, Russia, DPRK, and Iran as challenges met with innovation. For that reason, the Biden administration’s defense budget request for the coming fiscal year includes the largest-ever investment in research and development, Hicks said.
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