Last month, a U.S. fighter aircraft tracked and shot down an Iranian drone. Details have been elusive, but the U.S. military has now confirmed the incident.
Multinational Forces Iraq spokesman Col. Scott Maw tells Danger Room that coalition fighters intercepted an Iranian unmanned aerial vehicle over Iraqi airspace on Feb. 25. The UAV, an Ababil-3 (pictured here), was â€œtracked as it crossed the border.â€ Coalition aircraft were sent up to visually ID the drone. Finally, they did, and then shot it down â€œover 25 miles from the Iraq-Iran border.â€ All told, the UAV was tracked â€œfor an hour and 10 minutes before it was shot down.â€
Maj. Gen. Abdul Aziz Mohammed Jassim, head of military operations at the Iraqi Defense Ministry, also confirmed the incident, telling Reuters: â€œAn unmanned Iranian plane crossed the border and it was discovered by multi-national forcesâ€™ radar. They intercepted it and brought it down … an American plane brought it down.â€ According to Jassim, the incursion was most likely a â€œmistake.â€
Initially, coalition press officials would neither confirm nor deny the incident. But the presence of Iranian drones over Iraq â€” and the confirmation of the shoot-down â€” raise new questions about Tehranâ€™s unmanned aircraft capabilities and its intentions.