The US have confirmed that Iran has shot down one of its $180million spy drones, but refutes the Revolutionary Guard’s claims it was in Iranian airspace.
Iranian commander Hossein Salami declared his men were ‘ready for war,’ as the downing of the aircraft over its ‘red lines’ sent ‘a clear message’ to the Americans.
Tehran alleged an RQ-4 Global Hawk was shot down over their southern coastal city of Hormozgan, but a U.S. official said it had been a cutting-edge Navy MQ-4C Triton in international airspace.
A highly sophisticated missile will have been deployed, of deep concern to Washington not only for Tehran’s patently advanced arsenal, but the secrets they could steal in examining the stricken drone.
The MQ-4C soars to 60,000ft, can be operated from 9,400 miles away and is loaded with optical/infrared sensors – it is believed to be the first time one has been taken out.
It comes amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington over U.S. economic sanctions and alleged Iranian attacks on shipping in the Straits of Hormuz.
A highly sophisticated missile will have been deployed to destroy the Navy spy plane (file photo), which will be deeply concerning to Washington not only for the weapons-capability of Tehran, but the secrets they could steal in examining the technology
The Iranians claimed they had shot down a USAF RQ-4 Global Hawk (pictured), but the Americans confirmed it was a Navy MQ-4C Triton, denying it was in international airspace
The US-made surveillance drone was brought down by Iran over the southern coastal province of Hormozgan, the Revolutionary Guard claimed
Iran claimed to have shot down an RQ-4 but the US confirmed a Navy MQ-4C was destroyed
Navy MQ-4C Triton
The first few high-altitude, high-endurance Naval drones were introduced in May of last year.
The U.S. plans to have a fleet of 68 operational by 2032.
Capable of more than 30 hours at 55,000ft, Washington will be deeply concerned by the loss of the $180million drone.
Not only does it signal sophisticated missiles exist in the Iranian arsenal, but also that their technology may have fallen into Tehran’s sinister hands.
The MQ-4C’s optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensors enable full motion video surveillance with capabilities to detect, classify and track targets.
It has Rolls-Royce engines, is 50ft long, with a wingspan of 130ft and top speed of around 368mph.
Five crew members fly it from the ground.
Salami – head of the Revolutionary Guard – announced Iran’s borders ‘represent our red line,’ before a crowd in the western city of Sanandaj.
He told the people, ‘Any enemy that violates the borders will be annihilated.’
Tehran’s response to the drone was ‘a clear message’ from the ‘defenders of the borders’ of Iran, he told the Tasnim news agency.
Iran will ‘respond to all foreign aggression and our reaction is, and will be, categorical and absolute.’
Earlier, a spokesman for the U.S. military’s Central Command, Navy Captain Bill Urban, said no U.S. aircraft were flying over Iran on Wednesday.
U.S. military officials said Iran fired a missile at another drone last week that responded to the attack on two oil tankers near the Gulf of Oman.
America blames Iran for the attack on the ships, which Tehran denies.
The U.S. military declined to comment if an American drone had been shot down but a spokesman said: ‘There was no drone over Iranian territory.’
State television did not provide pictures of the drone.
The U.S. has accused Iran of being behind a series of operations against oil tankers in highly sensitive Gulf waters.
Tehran has denied involvement and instead suggested Washington could be the author of the attacks, using the operation to justify force against Iran.
Hormozgan borders the Strait of Hormuz, where the tanker attacks took place.
The relationship between Tehran and Washington has been particularly strained since the U.S. last year quit the multilateral 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on Iran.
The U.S. has bolstered its military presence in the Middle East and blacklisted Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organisation.
But Tehran’s top security official said Wednesday there was no reason to worry about a conflict breaking out.
‘There will be no war (between Iran and the U.S.) since there is no reason for a war,’ said rear admiral Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, quoted by the official news agency IRNA.
President Donald Trump decided to withdraw from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers a year ago. The White House separately said it was aware of reports of a missile strike on Saudi Arabia amid a campaign targeting the kingdom by Yemen’s Iranian-allied Houthi rebels.
Iran recently has quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium and threatened to boost its enrichment closer to weapons-grade levels, trying to pressure Europe for new terms to the 2015 deal.
In recent weeks, the U.S. has sped an aircraft carrier to the Mideast and deployed additional troops to the tens of thousands already in the region. Mysterious attacks also have targeted oil tankers as Iranian-allied Houthi rebels launched bomb-laden drones into Saudi Arabia.
All this has raised fears that a miscalculation or further rise in tensions could push the U.S. and Iran into an open conflict, some 40 years after Tehran’s Islamic Revolution.
This image released by the U.S. Department of Defense on Monday, June 17, 2019, and taken from a U.S. Navy helicopter, shows what the Navy says are members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy removing an unexploded limpet mine from the M/T Kokuka Courageous
This grab taken from a video released by the US Central Command on June 13, 2019, reportedly shows an Iranian navy patrol boat in the Gulf of Oman approaching the Japanese operated methanol tanker Kokuka Courageous and removing an unexploded mine
Meanwhile, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Trump had been ‘briefed on the reports of a missile strike in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.’
‘We are closely monitoring the situation and continuing to consult with our partners and allies,’ Sanders said.
The Houthi’s Al-Masirah satellite news channel claimed the rebels targeted a power plant in Jizan, near the kingdom’s border with Yemen, with a cruise missile. Saudi state media and officials did not immediately report a missile strike Thursday.
A Saudi-led coalition has been battling the Houthis since March 2015 in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest nation now pushed to the brink of famine by the conflict. In recent weeks, the Houthis have launched a new campaign sending missiles and bomb-laden drones into Saudi Arabia.