When Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) shot down a US spy drone in the Strait of Hormuz last month, Tehran claimed the drone had violated Iranian airspace and been challenged by ground forces prior to being shot down with a surface-to-air missile. While CENTCOM has long maintained the drone was over international waters, now it’s challenging the second half of Iran’s claims, saying that the Iranians never warned the US before firing on their UAV.
Urban told Military.com in an email exchange on Tuesday that CENTCOM had logged "six different occasions where Iranian air defense stations queried or warned US aircraft and [unmanned aerial vehicles] on the international guard radio channel," but that "none were recorded or reported by the RQ-4 that was shot down in international airspace in the vicinity of the Strait of Hormuz, and none were received, reported or recorded by any other aircraft at the time of the shoot down.”
"We are not aware of any Iranian attempt to warn any US forces or headquarters before they executed the shoot down of the RQ-4,” he said.
Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations Majid Takht Ravanchi said in a June 21 letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that was obtained by Sputnik that the UAV was operating in “full stealth mode” and, “despite repeated radio warnings, it entered into the Iranian airspace,” at which point Iranian air defenses “targeted the intruding aircraft.”
The incident brought the US and Iran to the brink of war on June 20, and US President Donald Trump reportedly called off retaliatory airstrikes just moments before they were set to begin, deciding the likely deaths weren’t proportionate. There were no injuries or deaths in the Global Hawk shootdown, as the aircraft is flown remotely from the ground.
The CENTCOM spokesperson did not comment on whether Iranian ground forces had challenged the P-8 Poseidon electronic warfare aircraft that accompanied the Global Hawk on its flight, and which IRGC officials said they deliberately avoided engaging. The airliner-sized plane had 35 crewmen on board.