Nov 8, 2012 Comments Off Pat Dollard
Excerpted from Fox News: Iran fired on an unarmed U.S. drone last week as it was hovering in international airspace, the Pentagon announced Thursday.
Spokesman George Little said the incident occurred Nov. 1 at 4:50 a.m. ET. He said the unarmed, unmanned drone was conducting “routine surveillance” over the Persian Gulf when it was “intercepted” by Iran. He said the MQ1 Predator drone, which was not hit, was not in Iranian airspace.
Little said the U.S. government has protested to the Iranians. Asked about how the U.S. could respond, he said: “We have a wide range of options from diplomatic to military.”
Little stressed that the drone was flying 16 nautical miles off the coast of Kuwait in international waters, and never entered the 12-mile limit that would constitute Iranian territory.
The Pentagon announced the incident as the administration imposed a new round of financial sanctions against Iranian officials and entities. They marked the first sanctions since President Obama’s re-election Tuesday. According to the Treasury Department, the move was “related to the Iranian government’s human rights abuses, its support of terrorism and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.”
The drone encounter comes after a U.S. drone crashed in Iran late last year. Iran claimed to have shot it down, but U.S. officials said it merely malfunctioned and crashed.
Little said he thinks the Nov. 1 encounter is the first time an unmanned drone was shot at in international waters over the Gulf. He said the U.S. will continue to run surveillance missions in the region.
Excerpted from CNN: Two Iranian Su-25 fighter jets fired on an unarmed U.S. Air Force Predator drone in the Persian Gulf last week, CNN has learned.
The incident raises fresh concerns within the Obama administration about Iranian military aggression in crucial Gulf oil shipping lanes.
The drone was in international airspace east of Kuwait, U.S. officials said, adding it was engaged in routine maritime surveillance.
Although the drone was not hit, the Pentagon is concerned.
Two U.S. officials explained the jets were part of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps force, which has been more confrontational than regular Iranian military forces.
The Obama administration did not disclose the incident, which occurred just days before the presidential election on November 1, but three senior officials confirmed the details to CNN.
The officials declined to be identified because of sensitive intelligence matters surrounding the matter.
The drone’s still and video cameras captured the incident showing two SU-25s approaching the Predator and firing its onboard guns.
The Iranian pilots continued to fire shots that went beneath the Predator but were never successful in hitting it, according to the officials.
U.S. military intelligence analysts are still not sure if the Iranian pilots simply were unable to hit the drone due to lack of combat skill, or whether they deliberately were missing and had no intention of bringing down the drone. But as one of the officials said, “it doesn’t matter, they fired on us.”
The official confirmed the United States protested the incident but has not heard back from Iran.
Iran has, at times, been confrontational in the region. In January, the U.S. military and coast guard had close encounters with Iranian Navy vessels which approached at high speeds and exhibited provocative behavior.