Photos of what Iran says is wreckage of a downed American drone have been released by state media. While knocking out the device, Tehran said it refrained from hitting the accompanying US military plane.
The RQ-4A Global Hawk UAV was shot down on June 20 after having entered the country’s airspace and ignoring warnings to turn around, Iran claims. Washington maintains it was shot down while patrolling over international waters in an “unprovoked attack.”
Tehran insists the device breached Iranian territory and says it’s ready to present “indisputable” evidence supporting that claim. It says parts of the drone’s debris had been pulled from Iran’s territorial waters, which extends 22.2 km (13.8 miles) from the shoreline.
Earlier, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said the action was meant to send a “clear message” to Washington that encroaching on its sovereign integrity was a “red line.”
Developed by US defense giant Northrop Grumman, the maritime version of the RQ-4 Global Hawk allows operators to undergo surveillance of vast swathes of ocean and can fly at altitudes of up to 60,000 feet (18,288 meters). The drone is expensive, too, costing around $130 million per unit – almost 10 times as much as armed combat drones like the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper.