Will America and Iran's 'Drone War' Turn Into a Real War?

Matthew Petti
Wikimedia Commons

Matthew Petti

Security, Middle East

Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif seemed to deny Donald Trump's claim of a successful drone attack. In an exclusive interview he told National Interest Editor Jacob Heilbrunn that “we do not have any information about having lost a drone today.”

Will America and Iran's 'Drone War' Turn Into a Real War?

The Trump administration claims to have destroyed an Iranian drone that was “threatening” a U.S. warship off the coast of Iran on Thursday, but it did not clarify whether the drone was armed. The incident was the latest in a series of incidents between the United States and Iran in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, pushing both countries to the brink of war. Unlike in past incidents, however, both sides carefully described the alleged drone shootdown.

President Donald Trump claimed that the U.S. Navy destroyed “an Iranian drone which had closed into a very, very near distance, approximately one thousand yards” from the USS Boxer in the Strait of Hormuz. Trump calling it “the latest of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran against vessels operating in international waters.” The president claimed that the Iranian drone was “ignoring multiple calls to stand down and was threatening the safety of the ship and the ship’s crew,” but was “immediately destroyed.”

Pentagon Spokesman Jonathan Hoffman reiterated Trump’s claims: “At approximately 10 a.m. local time, the amphibious ship USS Boxer was in international waters conducting a planned inbound transit of the Strait of Hormuz. A fixed-wing unmanned aerial system (UAS) approached Boxer and closed within a threatening range. The ship took defensive action against the UAS to ensure the safety of the ship and its crew.”

It is unclear whether the drone was armed. When asked by the National Interest whether the drone was armed, the Department of Defense simply repeated that “[w]e assess it was an Iranian UAS.” The Pentagon did not respond to a request for clarification.

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