US military says Iran shoot down of its drone was "unprovoked attack"
WASHINGTON, June 20 (Reuters) - The U.S. military confirmed on Thursday that one of its drones was shot down but said the incident took place in international airspace, challenging Iran's account that the U.S. aircraft had been flying over Iranian territory. "Iranian reports that the aircraft was over Iran are false," said Navy Captain Bill Urban, a spokesman for the U.S. military's Central Command. "This was an unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset in international airspace." He said the shoot-down took place in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz at approximately 11:35 p.m. GMT on June 19, 2019. Source
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was designed to replace the Navy's RQ-4 Global Hawks and are part of a generation of reconnaissance planes which have superseded the U-2 spy planes.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.
Five crew members fly it from the ground and the drone feeds data back to bases in Florida and Washington. Source