Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps on Thursday said they had shot down the drone after it violated Iranian airspace. The Revolutionary Guard Corps said the US-made Global Hawk surveillance drone was brought down by its Air Force near the Kouh-e Mobarak region in the central district of Jask County.
However, US Central Command spokesperson Bill Urban had earlier in the day said “no US aircraft were operating in Iranian airspace” on Thursday, Reuters reported. The Iranian state media also did not provide pictures of the drone.
The RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft system 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, according to its manufacturer Northrop Grumman. The Global Hawk fleet is also engaged in supporting air and ground users with communications relay support.
The incident comes at a time when the United States has accused Iran of attacking two of its oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman on June 13. Hormozgan borders the Strait of Hormuz, where the tankers were located. The US military has also accused Iran of firing a missile at a drone that had responded to the explosions. In May, Washington had alleged Tehran had orchestrated a similar attack in which four tankers in the same area were damaged.
Iran has repeatedly warned it might block the Hormuz Strait in retaliation and denied its involvement in the attacks.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on June 14 called for an independent inquiry into the attacks. The world body chief also said he was willing to mediate between the two countries if both the parties agreed.
The tensions come in the backdrop of an escalating standoff between the US and Iran one year after President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, and reimposed heavy sanctions on the country. Iran responded to the sanctions by threatening to walk away from its obligations under the nuclear deal – which had promised economic relief in exchange for limits to its nuclear development – and return to higher levels of uranium enrichment.