U. S. Warplanes Violating Iranian Airspace

February 6, 2005

UPI reported on January 26 that U.S. combat aircraft have been flying into Iranian airspace for weeks now, doing reconnaissance and "probing" for future battles.

"We have to know which targets to attack and how to attack them," said a U.S. official. "These Iranian air defense positions are not just being observed, they're being 'templated,' he said, explaining that the flights are part of a U.S. effort to develop "an electronic order of battle for Iran" in case of war.

The aircraft are violating Iranian airspace in an attempt to lure Teheran into turning on air defense radars, thus allowing U.S. pilots to grid the system for use in future targeting data, another official stated. In the event of an actual clash, Iran's air defense radars would be targeted for destruction by air-fired U.S. anti-radiation or ARM missiles, he said. A U.S. intelligence official added: "You need to know what proportion of your initial air strikes are going to have to be devoted to air defense suppression."

The air reconnaissance is taking place in conjunction with other intelligence collection efforts, U.S. government officials said.

To collect badly needed intelligence on the ground about Iran's alleged nuclear program, the United States is depending heavily on Israeli-trained teams of Kurds in northern Iraq and on U.S.-trained teams of former Iranian exiles in the south to gather the intelligence needed for possible strikes against Iran's 13 or more suspected nuclear sites, according to serving and retired U.S. intelligence officials.

"This looks to be turning into a pretty large-scale covert operation," a former long-time CIA operator in the region told UPI. In addition to the air strikes on allegedly Iranian nuclear weapons sites, the second aim of the operation is to secure the support in Iran of those "who view U.S. policy of hostility towards Iran's clerics with favor," he said.

The United States is also attempting to erect a covert infrastructure in Iran able to support U.S. efforts, this source said. It consists of Israelis and other U.S. assets, using third country passports, who have created a network of front companies that they own and staff. "It's a covert infrastructure for material support," a U.S. administration official said.