US Expected To Take Action For Iranian Shoot Down of Navy Drone

MQ-4C Triton
The MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system completes its inaugural cross-country ferry flight at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, U.S., September 18, 2014. (Photo: U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS)

The United States is expected to take some action in response to Iran shooting down one of the U.S. Navy's Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton unmanned maritime surveillance and patrol aircraft on Thursday.

Navy officials cited by U.S. media confirmed the Triton was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz. The Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), however, disputed this claim, saying the $180 million drones was blasted out of the sky over Iran's southern coastal province of Hormozgan.

"The US-made Global Hawk surveillance drone was brought down" in the southern coastal province of Hormozgan, announced the IRGC. "It was shot down when it entered Iran's airspace near the Kouhmobarak district in the south."

On Thursday, Iran's Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the intrusion by the MQ-4C Triton into its airspace. It warned of the consequences of these "provocative" U.S. measures.

"Any such violation of Iran's borders are strongly condemned ... We warn of the consequences of such illegal and provocative measures," said ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi.

An IRGC statement said the drone's identification transponder was switched off "in violation of aviation rules and was moving in full secrecy" when it was destroyed.

IRGC commander in chief Brigadier General Hossein Salami warned against any aggression and said the drone's downing carried a "clear message" to the U.S.

Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council said Iran's air space "is our red line and Iran has always responded and will continue to respond strongly to any country that violates our air space."

The Pentagon denied any of its unmanned aerial vehicles entered Iranian airspace. "There was no drone over Iranian territory," asserted Navy Captain Bill Urban, a U.S. Central Command spokesman.

Thursday's shootdown is the first Iranian attack on a U.S. military vehicle and comes amid the escalating crisis in the region following the bombings of ships in the Gulf of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz over the past month.

The U.S. is blaming Iran for the second wave of attacks last week that damaged two civilian tankers anchored in the Gulf of Oman. Iran denies it has anything to do with these attacks.

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