- Iran claimed an RQ-4 Global Hawk was in their airspace, denied by Washington
- Commander Hossein Salami declared his men were ‘ready for war’ today
- US said a Navy MQ-4C Triton was destroyed, but that it wasn’t in Iran’s airspace
- Washington will fear stolen secrets if Tehran can get their hands on the plane
- News comes amid flaring tensions after two oil tankers were attacked last week
The U.S. have confirmed that Iran shot down one of its $180million spy drones, but refutes the Revolutionary Guard’s claims it was in Iranian airspace.
Iranian commander Hossein Salami today declared that his men are ‘ready for war’ and that the drone had been downed because ‘borders are our red line’.
The Islamic Republic News Agency, Iran’s propaganda outlet, published a photograph purporting to show the burning aircraft falling from the sky, but the image was taken two years ago in Yemen.
Tehran said it shot down an RQ-4 Global Hawk over the southern coastal province of Hormozgan, but a U.S. official said it was a Navy MQ-4C Triton in international airspace. The two look similar and the Triton is a variant of the Global Hawk.
The Triton, which is part of a fleet that has replaced the U-2 spy plane, flies at 56,000ft and could have only been downed by a sophisticated radar guided missile such as the Russian S-300 system which Iran operates.
It is believed this is the first time a Triton has been shot down.
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 Islamic Republic News Agency, Iran’s propaganda outlet, published this photograph purporting to show the burning aircraft falling from the sky, but the image was taken two years ago in Yemen
The US-made surveillance drone was brought down by Iran over the southern coastal province of Hormozgan, the Revolutionary Guard claimed
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
Iran claimed to have shot down an RQ-4 but the US confirmed a Navy MQ-4C was destroyed – the aircraft are visually similar and the MQ-4C is designed to replace the Navy’s RQ-4s
The Triton could have only been downed by a sophisticated radar guided missile such as the Russian S-300 system which Iran operates (pictured: an S-300 missile is launched during Russian drills earlier this month)
The US Navy’s 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 56,000ft, 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 aeronautical technology may have fallen into Tehran’s sinister hands.
News that an MQ-4C was shot down has taken many by surprise because its first ever deployment was reportedly scheduled for this summer in the Pacific.
The Triton was designed to replace the Navy’s RQ-4 Global Hawks and are part of a generation of reconnaissance planes which have superseded the U-2 spy planes.
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 a top speed of 368mph.
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.
Commander Sean Kido of US Naval Forces Central Command, or NAVCENT, told reporters in the UAE yesterday that the limpet mine used in the attack on a Japanese-owned tanker ‘is distinguishable and it is also strikingly bearing a resemblance to Iranian mines that have already been publicly displayed in Iranian military parades’.
The Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous, loaded with highly flammable methanol, came under attack last Thursday as it passed through the Gulf of Oman along with the Norwegian-operated Front Altair.
Tehran has denied involvement and instead suggested Washington could be the author of the attacks, using the operation to justify force against Iran.