Finally, a claim about the Iranian air force that might not be totally made up.
According to the October issue of military aviation magazine "Combat Aircraft Monthly," Iran's old-school F-14 Tomcats and F-4 Phantom II fighter jets have been used to "intercept foreign and unknown aircraft" that have infiltrated the Middle Eastern nation's airspace for years.
To be sure, Iranian combat aircraft have been known to chase U.S. drones in the Persian Gulf. Iran has even recovered one that went down in 2011 and "decoded" in it an effort to manufacture clones.
But it appears that a few suspected drones were a little more than Iran's fighter jets could handle.
OpenMinds.tv, a UFO news and investigation website, cites an article in the October issue of Combat Aircraft Monthly, in which sources within Iran's air force reported unusual activity by suspected unmanned drones in the fall of 2004, shortly after Iran announced construction of a heavy water nuclear reactor near Arak.
The sources claimed that ground and airborne radar detected aircraft flying near Iranian nuclear sites that "displayed astonishing flight characteristics, including an ability to fly outside the atmosphere, attain a maximum cruise speed of Mach 10, and a minimum speed of zero, with the ability to hover over the target."
The magazine also described an incident in which a jet set to pursue one of the objects exploded moments after takeoff, and gave an account of a case in which equipment on Iranian fighter jets malfunctioned on approach to an unidentified flying object:
"In one case over Arak in November 2004, the crew... spotted a luminous object flying near the heavy water plant... When the beam of the jet’s radar 'painted' the object, both the RIO and pilot saw that the radar scope was disrupted, probably due to the high magnetic energy of the object increasing the power of the reflected radar waves. The pilot described the object as being spherical, with something like a green afterburner creating a considerable amount of turbulence behind it. The Tomcat crew achieved a lock-on when it was flying a linear and constant flight path. Once the pilot selected [a missile] to launch against it, the object increased its speed and then disappeared like a meteor."
The latter claim mirrors a famous UFO incident that reportedly occurred over Tehran in 1976, in which F-4 fighter jets that were scrambled to intercept an unidentified aircraft temporarily lost use of weapons and instruments while in pursuit.
While the technology described in the 2004 incidents hasn't been publicly demonstrated by any foreign military today, it stands to reason that it certainly wasn't available in 1976.
But apparently, that hasn't stopped people from reporting UFOs in Iran. In 2009, the Associated Press reported that Iranian state media had "been gripped by a kind of 'flying object' fever with dozens of reported sightings," but the Iranian government maintained that the sightings weren't extraterrestrial in origin.
"Most of the shining objects that our people see in Iran's airspace are American spying equipment used to spy on Iran's nuclear and military facilities," Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi said in 2009, according to the AP. "U.S. spying activities over Iranian airspace have been going [on] since a long time ago."
Although the "spying equipment" used by the U.S. government hasn't demonstrated the kind of capabilities described in the Combat Aircraft Monthly article, some of it has been very sophisticated.
According to CNN, the CIA Sentinel drone that crashed in Iran in 2011 while on a reconnaissance mission of suspected nuclear sites was "one of the United States' most sophisticated drones," capable of flying at up to 50,000 feet and "designed to evade sophisticated air defenses."
It reportedly crashed after it lost satellite communication.