In a statement issued early Thursday, the IRGC said the US-made Global Hawk surveillance drone was brought down by its Air Force near the Kouh-e Mobarak region — which sits in the central district of Jask County — after the aircraft violated Iranian airspace.
According to the statement, the Global Hawk had flown from one of the American bases in the southern parts of the Persian Gulf region at 00:14 a.m. local time, with its identification transponders off in breach of all international aviation rules.
It also went on to say that the drone had stealthily continued on the route from the Strait of Hormuz towards Iran’s port city of Chabahar.
While returning towards west of the Strait of Hormuz, the drone violated Iran’s territorial airspace and began gathering intelligence and spying, the statement said.
The drone had been targeted and shot down by the IRGC at 04: 05 a.m. local time, it added.
An informed IRGC source in Hormozgan province said the drone had been targeted near the Kouh-e Mobarak region and fell down in the area of Ras al-Shir in Iran’s territorial waters.
He told the IRNA news agency that the downing came after repeated violations of Iran’s airspace by US reconnaissance drones in the Persian Gulf region.
Reacting to the news, the US military claimed it did not fly over Iranian airspace on Wednesday.
“No US aircraft were operating in Iranian airspace today,” said Navy Captain Bill Urban, a spokesman for the American military’s Central Command.
However, a US official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to the Associated Press, confirmed on Thursday that an American military drone had been shot down in “international airspace” over the Strait of Hormuz by an Iranian surface-to-air missile.
He identified the drone as a US Navy MQ-4C Triton, which builds on elements of the RQ-4 Global Hawk with minor changes.
The RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft system (UAS) can fly at high altitudes for more than 30 hours, gathering near-real-time, high-resolution imagery of large areas of land in all types of weather, maker Northrop Grumman says on its website.
The Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton is a maritime derivative of the RQ-4B Global Hawk and the airborne element of the US Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Unmanned Aircraft System (BAMS UAS).
Tensions have been running between Iran and the US in recent weeks, with Washington stepping up its provocative military moves in the Middle East.
Last month, Washington dispatched an aircraft carrier strike group, a bomber task force, and an amphibious assault ship to the Persian Gulf, citing an alleged Iranian threat.
On Monday, the Pentagon announced that the US will send 1,000 additional US forces and more military resources to the Middle East.
Tehran believes the US has a hand in a set of suspicious regional incidents in recent weeks, such as the June 13 attacks against oil tankers in the Sea of Oman, in a bid to pin the blame on Iran and put more pressure on the country.
Last week, UN sources revealed that the United States was planning to carry out a “tactical assault” on an Iranian nuclear facility in response to the alleged Iranian role in the tanker attacks.