Despite Iranian denials that it lost an unmanned aircraft, US President Donald Trump on Friday said there is “no doubt about it” that a US warship destroyed an Iranian drone. This comes a day after Iranian drone came within 1,000 yards (915 meters) of the warship and ignored multiple calls to stand down. “No doubt about it. We shot it down,” he said.
The incident took place at approximately 10 am local time when the amphibious ship, USS Boxer, was in the international waters conducting a planned inbound transit of the strait, Pentagon chief spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman said on Thursday.
Trump said the Boxer took defensive action against the Iranian drone, which had “closed into a very, very near distance”, approximately 1,000 yards. He said it ignored multiple calls to stand down and was threatening the safety of the ship and the crew.
“The drone was immediately destroyed. This is the latest of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran against vessels operating in international waters,” the president told reporters at the White House.
Hoffman said the fixed wing unmanned aerial system (UAS) was shot down to ensure the safety of the ship and its crew after the drone “closed within a threatening range”.
Trump asserted that the US reserved the right to defend its personnel, facilities and interests, calling upon all nations to condemn what he said was Iran’s attempts to “disrupt” freedom of navigation and global commerce.
“I also call on other nations to protect their ships as they go through the strait and to work with us in the future,” he added.
Neither Trump nor the Pentagon spelled out how the Boxer destroyed the drone or provided any video or other evidence from the incident. Several US officials said the ship used electronic jamming to bring it down rather than hitting it with a missile. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorised to speak on the record about the event.
Electronic jamming breaks the data links between a drone and its controller on the ground, causing it to crash. Such a move requires a vehicle-mounted, counter-drone device on the flight deck of the ship a device that’s visible in official photographs of the Boxer released by the Pentagon after the incident.
National security adviser John Bolton said “there is no question this was an Iranian drone and USS Boxer took it out.” An Iranian news agency reported Friday that the country’s armed forces say all Iranian drones in the Persian Gulf returned safely to their bases.