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Iranian fighter jet tried to shoot down U.S. drone, Pentagon says

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 02:31 a.m. HST, Nov 09, 2012

WASHINGTON >> An Iranian attack aircraft fired at least twice at an unarmed U.S. drone conducting routine surveillance in international airspace over the Persian Gulf, the Pentagon said Thursday. The aircraft missed and the drone returned to base unharmed.

The shooting in the Gulf, which occurred just before 5 a.m. EDT on Nov. 1,  was unprecedented, Pentagon press secretary George Little said. The incident was not disclosed sooner because the military does not discuss classified surveillance missions, but agreed to answer questions after news reports revealed the shooting.

Little said the drone was about 16 miles off the Iranian coast when the Russian-made SU-25 Frogfoot warplane intercepted it and opened fire. He said it was the first time an unmanned U.S. aircraft was shot at in international airspace over the Gulf.

“Our aircraft was never in Iranian air space. It was always flying in international air space,” Little told Pentagon reporters. “The United States has communicated to the Iranians that we will continue to conduct surveillance flights over international waters over the Arabian Gulf, consistent with longstanding practice and our commitment to the security of the region.”

According to the Pentagon, the Iranian war plane made at least two passes by the slower-moving drone, firing “multiple rounds.” 

Little said that once the Predator drone came under fire, it began to move further out and the Iranian aircraft continued to pursue it “for some period of time before letting it return to base.” The Iranian plane did not follow the drone all the way back to its base, Little said, declining to say where that base was.

He said there was no other U.S. aircraft nearby that could respond to the attack, and added that the U.S. believes Iran was trying to shoot the drone down.

This is the second incident involving a U.S. drone and Iran. 

In December 2011 a U.S. RQ-170 Sentinel drone equipped with stealth technology was captured in eastern Iran. Tehran claims it brought down the aircraft, but U.S. officials said the drone malfunctioned and had to land. 

After initially saying only that a drone had been lost near the Afghan-Iran border, American officials eventually confirmed the plane was monitoring Iran’s military and nuclear facilities. Washington asked for it back but Iran refused, and instead released photos of Iranian officials studying the aircraft.

International waters begin at 12 nautical miles offshore.

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CriticalReader wrote:
Is this why they were playing "Top Gun" on cable last night? Was wondering about that.
on November 8,2012 | 01:53PM
etalavera wrote:
Iran can't even shoot down an UNARMED UNMANNED drone. Let's see them try to shoot down a real fighter jet!
on November 8,2012 | 03:19PM
cojef wrote:
Stop playing "chicken" in dangerous waters, especially along the Iranian borders. Provocation by any means is poor strategy. It could only lead to outright war, which we don't need. Let someone else police the world., We have lost enough of our young men and maimed many more than necessary.
on November 8,2012 | 03:49PM
kahu808 wrote:
A SU-25 v. drone and no shootdown? Must be a lousy pilot.
on November 8,2012 | 04:01PM
64hoo wrote:
to bad the drone was'nt armed it would fire back and knock down the iranian jet since this happened in international waters.
on November 8,2012 | 05:58PM
kahu808 wrote:
Being that it was unmanned, they should have done a kamikaze number on the Frogfoot, played chicken, and not flinch. Gotta give credit to the drone pilot who was yanking and banking without having to feel the g's. Now all we need is a video game: Drone vs. SU-25. Those pilots can't show their mugs around base now. Ahmad, you got punked by a drone!!!
on November 8,2012 | 06:43PM
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