The US drone that Iran shot down over the Strait of Hormuz last week is an RQ-4A Global Hawk, a $220 million surveillance monster in the sky, Wired reported. According to Iran, the Northrup Grumman-made Global Hawk – which is part of a multibillion-dollar program that dates back to 2001 – entered their air space and crashed into Iranian waters. The U.S. insists that the drone was flying in international airspace.
The incident comes after the U.S. accused Iran of attacking two fuel tankers in the Gulf of Oman. The U.S. also claims that Iran attempted to shoot down another drone, an MQ-9 Reaper, and failed. The U.S. has also linked Iran to an attack on a Reaper drone in Yemen two weeks ago that caused the drone to crash.
However, last week’s attack was on a far more expensive and technologically advanced drone, indicating a “more definite escalation” according to the report.
Thomas Karako, director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies said: “There’s a lot going on here, and we’re probably only seeing some of it. This is a more expensive, higher-altitude, more capable, long-range intelligence surveillance reconnaissance craft. If they’re shooting down aircraft in international airspace over international waters, that’s likely to elicit some kind of measured reprisal.”
Karako says that details on the airspace won’t be released until the U.S. releases more about the drone’s flight path: “Whether they want to release that is more of a policy decision. But thus far CentCom is insistent that it was in international airspace.”
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