An attack on the U.S. personnel near Baghdad International airport in Iraq was foiled after two suicide drones were shot down, sources in the Iraqi security force told Reuters. U.S. forces are stationed at an Iraqi military base near the International airport.
Two fixed-wing drones were used in the attack that occurred near a civilian airport. Although no organization has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, officials from the U.S.-led military coalition have shared some footage of the debris of the drones. Writings on the wings of the drone referred to the Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a drone attack near the airport ordered by then U.S. President Donald Trump, Reuters reported.
The foiled attack coincided with the second anniversary of the U.S.-ordered drone strike which also saw a candlelight vigil being held outside the airport, AFP reported.
VIDEO: Iraq's Hashed al-Shaabi ex-paramilitaries hold a candle-lit vigil at Baghdad airport to honour their deputy leader and the top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani killed in a U S drone strike two years ago pic.twitter.com/rvoyCai1dd— AFP News Agency (@AFP) January 3, 2022
Although details of the exact nature of the drone attack aren't yet available, the potential suicide drones were shot down without incident by the defense guns installed at the base, an official from the coalition told Reuters. According to The Drive, the defense system is the Centurion Counter-Rocket, Artillery, and Mortar (C-RAM) system that was first deployed in Iraq in 2010.
Weighing 58,000 pounds (26,308 kg), the C-RAM system comprises the Land-based Phalanx Weapon System that has the M61A1 20 mm Gatling Gun that can acquire targets and fire up to 4,500 rounds per minute. It functions much like its naval counterpart that serves as the last line of defense. The C-RAM system boasts of a wide range of sensors that allow it to automatically search, track, prioritize and engage targets.
According to the U.S. Army's Acquisition Support Center, the C-RAM system has over 375 intercepts without any collateral damage to its credit so far and with the recently foiled attack add another one to this tally.
In August 2021, as U.S. troops left the Hamid Karzai International Airport as part of their planned withdrawal from Afghanistan, a similar installation protected them from incoming rockets.