IRGC exhibits wreckage of U.S. RQ-4 Global Hawk

IRGC general says Iran warned U.S. drone several times before shootdown

June 21, 2019

TEHRAN - The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) shot down a highly-sophisticated U.S. stealth drone early on Thursday after it violated Iran’s airspace.

The IRGC brought the drone down by firing a surface-to-air missile at it.

Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the aerospace unit of the IRGC, said on Friday that the drone had received warnings for four times before being shot down.

“Those who guided the drone received the warnings but did not care. Given that the drone breached Iran’s airspace, the aerospace unit of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps shot it down,” Hajizadeh said in an exhibition held in Tehran to showcase the drone’s wreckage.

The IRGC released GPS coordinates that showed the drone eight miles off Iran’s coast, inside the 12 nautical miles from the shore that is Iran’s territorial waters.

“Two warnings were issued on 2:05 on Thursday morning and two others were issued on 3:55 and the drone was shot on 4:05. In fact, four warnings were given to this drone but they did not pay attention. Another spy plane was also flying near this drone which carried 35 crew members and we had the right to shoot that down, however, we shot down the unmanned drone,” the general explained.

Brian Hook, the U.S. point man for Iran, had already questioned Iran’s military capabilities. However, the Iranian military succeeded to bring down the RQ-4 Global Hawk drone with homegrown “Khordad 3” missile.

"Iran has photoshopped images of missile launches to try and show its increased missile capabilities. They've also photoshopped antiquated aircraft and tried to pass them off as new stealth fighter jets," Hook said on a video on June 8.

The IRGC published a video on Thursday night showing the exact moment the drone was hit and brought down.

"The American drone was intercepted, hit and destroyed by the Khordad 3 system at 04:05, today after it entered Iranian air territory," the IRGC said in a tweet.

U.S. drone took off from UAE

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Friday that the U.S. drone violated the Iranian airspace by flying from the United Arab Emirates and it was targeted near Kouh-e Mobarak.

"At 00:14 U.S. drone took off from the UAE in stealth mode and violated Iranian airspace,” Zarif wrote on his Twitter account. 

Zarif said, “It was targeted at 04:05 at the coordinates (25°59'43"N 57°02'25"E) near Kouh-e Mobarak.”

Zarif: Now U.S. is encroaching Iran’s territory

Also, Zarif warned that in addition to waging “economic terrorism” against Iran, the United States is now invading the Iranian territory.

“The U.S. wages economic terrorism on Iran, has conducted covert action against us and now encroaches on our territory,” Zarif tweeted. 

Zarif added, “We don't seek war, but will zealously defend our skies, land and waters.”

The United States has claimed that the drone was operating in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz. 

Zarif refuted the claim, saying, “We'll take this new aggression to the UN and show that the U.S. is lying about international waters.”

The foreign minister said Iran has found parts of the downed drone in its territorial waters.

“We've retrieved sections of the U.S. military drone in OUR territorial waters where it was shot down,” Zarif explained.

The IRGC displayed parts of the downed drone on Friday noon, refuting earlier claims by the U.S. that the drone was flying over international waters.

$130 million surveillance drone

General Hajizadeh said the U.S. lost one of its most sophisticated and expensive spy aircrafts.

The Global Hawk drone, made by Northrop Grumman Corp, is used for intelligence-gathering over water and coastal areas, and costs around $130 million, according to industry experts. It can fly at high altitudes for more than 30 hours, gathering near-real-time, high-resolution imagery of large areas of land in all types of weather.

The IRGC announced on Thursday that the surveillance drone was shot down near the Kouh-e Mobarak region in the central district of Jask after the aircraft violated Iran’s airspace.

“The Global Hawk spy drone took off from one of the U.S. forces’ bases south of the Persian Gulf at 00:14 a.m. today and turned off all its Identification (Identification Friend or Foe) equipment and continued flight from the Strait of Hormuz to Chabahar port in a full stealth mode,” the statement said, according to Fars.

“The drone started collecting intelligence in a spying operation when it was returning towards the western parts of the region near the Strait of Hormuz and it violated the airspace over the Islamic Republic of Iran's territory,” it added.

Trump approves strikes on Iran, but then abruptly pulls back

According to The New York Times, President Trump approved military strikes against Iran in retaliation for downing the surveillance drone, but pulled back from launching them on Thursday night after a day of escalating tensions.

As late as 7 p.m., military and diplomatic officials were expecting a strike, after intense discussions and debate at the White House among the president’s top national security officials and congressional leaders, according to multiple senior administration officials involved in or briefed on the deliberations.

Officials said the president had initially approved attacks on a handful of Iranian targets, like radar and missile batteries.

The operation was underway in its early stages when it was called off, a senior administration official said. Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles had been fired when word came to stand down, the official said.

It was not clear whether Mr. Trump simply changed his mind on the strikes or whether the administration altered course because of logistics or strategy. It was also not clear whether the attacks might still go forward.

Asked about the plans for a strike and the decision to hold back, the White House declined to comment, as did Pentagon officials. No government officials asked The New York Times to withhold the article.

Pentagon warned strike could result in spiraling escalation

Trump’s national security advisers split about whether to respond militarily. Senior administration officials said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; John R. Bolton, the national security adviser; and Gina Haspel, the CIA director, had favored a military response. But top Pentagon officials cautioned that such an action could result in a spiraling escalation with risks for American forces in the region.

Congressional leaders were briefed by administration officials in the Situation Room.

 

NA/PA

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