An Iranian surface-to-air missile downed an American drone over international waters in the vicinity of the Strait of Hormuz. This act of aggression follows in the wake of last week’s unprovoked damaging of two oil tankers by Iranian limpet mines.
Navy Captain Bill Urban, CENTCOM’s spokesperson, said in a statement that “U.S. Central Command can confirm that a U.S. Navy Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (or BAMS-D) ISR aircraft was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile system while operating in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz at approximately 11:35 p.m. GMT on June 19.”
CENTCOM noted, however, that Iranian claims that the drone was overflying Iranian airspace are inaccurate, adding that “this was an unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset in international airspace.”
The downed aircraft was an RQ-4A Global Hawk High-Altitude, Long, Endurance (HALE) drone. Its primary function is to conduct Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions and furnish commanders with accurate and timely data. The RQ-4A’s significant endurance – it is designed, after all, to conduct long-range reconnaissance in a maritime environment, and the oceans are vast – and advanced sensors mean that it can orbit at a safe distance from enemy anti-aircraft systems.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Special Envoy to Iran, Brian Hook, said during a testimony at the House Committee on Foreign Affairs that “no one should be uncertain about our desire for peace or our readiness to normalize relations should we reach a comprehensive deal. We have put the possibility of a much brighter future on the table for the Iranian people.”
Considering the tremendous financial and human costs that would stem from a conflict with Iran, this is the more prudent course of action. The U.S. has spent almost two decades in war. The result of this constant state of warfare is a significant strain on both warfighters and equipment.
“Our policy is at its core an economic and diplomatic one,” added Hook. “Recently, however, Iran has responded to it with violence. Iran should meet diplomacy with diplomacy, not with terror, bloodshed and extortion.”
Major General Hossein Salami, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) commander, said in a televised statement that “we do not have any intention for war with any country, but we are fully ready for war.” The Iranian officer also emphasised that his country has developed anti-ship missiles capable of long-range precision strikes that should serve as a deterrent for any American aggression.
An RQ-4 Global Hawk costs approximately $130 million.