US Central Command has confirmed that the Iranian forces have taken out a US unmanned aerial vehicle, Global Hawk, on Wednesday evening using a surface-to-air missile. The drone that was taken out by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was not some ordinary drone but among the US military’s highly advanced high-altitude unmanned aircraft.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps took down a US Navy Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS-D) intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft, specifically an RQ-4A Global Hawk high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) drone. The US military uses Global Hawk for carrying out a recon mission over coaster waterways and oceans.
The US military has declared the incident as ‘an unprovoked attack on a US surveillance asset in international airspace’. According to the US, the drone was shot down over the Strait of Hormuz, the entrance to the Persian Gulf. Whereas, the Iranians have stated that the US drone entered the Iranian airspace after which it was shot down. The US Central Command has denied these allegations.
The RQ-4 that was used for the development of the MQ-4C drones is considered to be one of the most advanced high-altitude drones that are used for operations. The drone makes use of an array of electronic sensors in collaboration with intelligence-gathering systems for conducting recon mission. The drone has a price tag higher than the US Military’s F-35 stealth fighters. Known as a Global Hawk, it costs $123 million whereas the F-35 costs $89 million.
According to Iran, the IRGC took down the US drone using an upgraded Khordad missile defense system. The defense system is capable of detecting and tracking targets that are 95 miles away and can take them out at a distance of 30 miles. The Global Hawk doesn’t come with any stealth abilities or countermeasures, thus making it an easy target for air defense systems that are capable of taking out high-altitude targets.
Gen. Paul Selva, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, ‘If the Iranians come after US citizens, US assets or [the] US military, we reserve the right to respond with military action, and they need to know that.’