Pentagon confirms Iranians fired on, followed U.S. drone in international air space

MQ-1 from General Atomics

WASHINGTON, 7 Nov. 2012. “I can confirm that on November 1, at approximately 4:50 a.m. EDT, an unarmed, unmanned MQ-1 U.S. military aircraft conducting routine surveillance over the Arabian Gulf was intercepted by an Iranian SU-25 Frog-foot aircraft and was fired upon with guns,” Pentagon Press Secretary George Little revealed to Pentagon reporters.

Defense Department officials believe this is the first time an unmanned aircraft has been shot at over international waters in the Arabian Gulf; in fact, Pentagon officials believe they fired at least twice and made at least two passes, reports Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall, Jr. with the American Forces Press Service.

“The incident occurred over international waters, approximately 16 nautical miles off of the Iranian coastline,” Little added. “The MQ-1 was not hit, and returned to its base safely.

“The aircraft, once it came under fire at approximately the 16 nautical mile range, moved further out,” Little says. “The Iranian aircraft continued to pursue the MQ-1 for some period of time before letting it return to base.

“The United States has communicated to the Iranians that we will continue to conduct surveillance flights over international waters, over the Arabian Gulf, consistent with longstanding practices and our commitment to the security of the region,” Little affirmed.

“Our aircraft was never in Iranian airspace. It was always flying in international airspace. The internationally recognized territorial limit is 12 nautical miles off the coast, and we never entered the 12 nautical-mile limit,” Little continued. “There is absolutely no question that the aircraft fired on the U.S. military aircraft.”

The General Atomics MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), is empoloyed by the United States Air Force (USAF) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

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