Iran's Revolutionary Guard said it had shot down an "intruding American spy drone" after
it entered into the country's territory Thursday.
The Revolutionary Guard of Iran in a statement issued on Thursday stated,
The drone was launched from a US base south of the Persian Gulf shortly after midnight
It said it flew from the Strait of Hormuz towards Chabahar, a city in southeast Iran.
While returning to the western Hormuz Strait's region the drone violated Iran's airspace
and engaged in information gathering and spying,.
The statement added, "At 4.05 a.m. local time while the violating airplane was over Iranian
territory, [it] was shot down.
The head of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami, said the shooting
down of the drone had sent a warning to the US.
"The only way for our enemies to be safe is to respect our sovereignty, national security,
and the national interests of the great Iranian nation.
U.S has also acknowledged that an RQ-4A Global Hawk High-Altitude, Long, Endurance (HALE)
Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) has been downed.
President Donald Trump has tweeted that "Iran has made a very big mistake.
Trump told reporters in the Oval Office of the White House in a joint media appearance
with the visiting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
"This drone was in international waters, clearly.
We have it all documented scientifically not just words.
And they made a very big mistake,
A single RQ-4A Global Hawk costs $131.4 million excluding R&D expenses.
This makes is it pricier than an F 35 which now cost around 90 million and 10 times the
price of drones like the Predator and Reaper.
It has come to a surprise for many that a sophisticated drone like this can be downed
In this video Defense Updates analyze how Iran managed to shoot down American RQ-4 Global
Hawk which is one of the best drone in the world?
Lets get started.
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The U.S. has been flying surveillance drones to spy on Iran for many years.
To accord with international law, such flights must take place in international airspace.
Aside from the frequent legal reconnaissance flights, Iran has protested what it alleges
are violations of its sovereign air space.
It has claimed that two U.S. spy drones crashed in Iran, a Shadow 200 (RQ-7), which it said
crashed 37 miles inside Iran in Ilam Province on July 4, 2005, and a U.S. Hermes drone near
Khoram Abad, about 125 miles inside Iran, on August 25, 2005.
In December 5, 2011, another spy drone was shot inside Iranian territory.
The location of the drone in this latest incident has become a key point of contention.
Iran maintains that the US aircraft was downed in Iranian territory, while the U.S claims
that it was in international airspace.
This comes at a time when relation US and Iran has already declined sharply since Donald
Trump withdrew from Iran nuclear deal and reinstated sanctions on Tehran.
The Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk is an unmanned (UAV) surveillance aircraft.
It was initially designed by Ryan Aeronautical which is now part of Northrop Grumman.
The Global Hawk performs duties similar to that of the Lockheed U-2.
The RQ-4 provides a broad overview and systematic surveillance using high-resolution synthetic
aperture radar (SAR) and long-range electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR)
sensors with long loiter times over target areas.
The Global Hawk carries the Hughes Integrated Surveillance & Reconnaissance (HISAR) sensor system.
HISAR integrates a SAR-MTI system, along with an optical and a thermography imager.
All three sensors are controlled and their outputs filtered by a common processor and
transmitted in real time at up to 50 Mbit/s to a ground station.
Global Hawk is capable of taking high definition and infra-red images as well as can intercept
telephone and radio chatter.
It can survey as much as 40,000 square miles or 100,000 km2 of terrain a day.
This is equivalent to the size of South Korea or Iceland.
Global Hawk has a range of more than 12,000 nautical miles, can fly at very high altitudes
of 60,000 feet, and can keep loitering for around 34 hours without break.
Global Hawk has no offensive capabilities.
Khordad 15 is a mobile air defense system which is claimed to be indigenously developed by Iran.
It was inaugurated in the presence of Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami, IRNA
reported on Sunday (9th June)
The system incorporates a domestically developed radar.
Speaking at the unveiling ceremony, Brig.
Gen. Amir Hatami said the system was capable of detecting fighter jets and combat drones
from 150 km or 93 miles away and tracking them within a range of 120 km or 75 miles.
Interestingly he said that it can detect stealth targets at a distance of 85 km or 52 miles
and engage them within a range of 45 km or 28 miles.
According to Iranian Defence Minister Mr. Hatami, the system can be deployed in less
than 5 minutes, and track 6 targets simultaneously.
He added that it can shoot targets at an altitude of 27 km or 17 miles off the ground.
Tasnim news agency stated that the new system has already been delivered to Iran's air defense
Some reports suggest that the interceptor missile was the Talash 2B.
Global Hawk is a pretty big drone.
It has a wingspan of more than 130 feet.
To give viewers a perspective, this is similar to a Boeing 737 passenger jet.
Global Hawk is not designed to be stealthy.
So, it is a pretty big target.
The Global Hawk is also pretty heavy at more than 16 tons.
The weight takes a toll on speed.
It can only fly at a maximum speed of 391 mph or 629 km/h.
This is a bad combo, to say the least.
Its large radar signature makes it easy to track by radars and because of lumbering flight
speed, it can be targeted by any decent Surface to Air Missile.
RQ-4 Global Hawk is suitable for use against insurgent forces such as ISIS or the Taliban
that dont have the resources to track and destroy high-flying aircraft.
But Iran is not in that league.
It actually has multiple platforms that can take out drones such as Global Hawk.
Viewers may note that apart from Khordad 15, Iran also has Russian made S-300 which is
its most potent air defense system.
So, the U.S seems to have lost a drone to an air defense which is not even the best
that Iran possesses.
S 300 can be equipped with radars that are claimed to have the capability to detect even
It is not clear that those actually work properly and if Russia has provided them to Iran or
Iran is thought to possess 4 batteries each of S 300 P and S 300 PMU2.
Keeping these aspects in view, Defense Updates had already suggested that S 300 is one weapon,
the U.S must be wary.
To check that analysis, view the video on the above card.
The U.S currently dont have high-end drones that are fast & stealthy which are hard to
shoot down nor have cheap and numerous drone that is more or less expendable
So, there is definitely a gap between the U.S current drones and capabilities of rivals
The gap will only be larger when faced by Russian & Chinese air defense.
In 2015, the U.S. Navy was working with a pair of experimental low observable combat
drones, the X-47B developed by Northrop Grumman.
The U.S Navy had shelved them in citing cost and reoriented the program to develop a drone
Looking at the current situation, the decision seems to have backfired.
The U.S is working on a cheap & stealthy drone named Valkyrie.
It only costs $2-3 million per piece.
It remains to be seen how this project goes.