The U.S. military claimed that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Crops (IRGC) had shot down its unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in the international airspace.
“U.S. Central Command can confirm that a U.S. Navy Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (or BAMS-D) ISR aircraft was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile system while operating in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz at approximately 11:35 p.m. GMT on June 19, 2019.” U.S. Navy Capt. Bill Urban, a spokesman for the Central Command (CENTCOM), said in a statement released on June 20.
The CENTCOM called the Iranian action “an unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset,” denying that the UAV had violated Iran’s airspace.
The U.S. military identified the UAV in its statement as a BAMS-D, a variant of the RQ-4A Global Hawk High-Altitude, Long, Endurance (HALE) UAV. Earlier, U.S. officials told news agencies that the UAV as a MQ-4C Triton, a specialized version of the global Hawk developed for the U.S. Navy.
The RQ-4N BAMS-D was the experimental precursor to the MQ-4C, developed under the same Broad Area Maritime Surveillance program, which explains the confusion.
BAMS UAVs were designed to provide the U.S. Navy with real-time intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities over vast ocean and coastal regions.
The CENTCOM’s statement indicates that the U.S. is not willing to take the incident lightly. It’s unclear if Washington is planning to respond. Any such military action could lead to a serious conformation in the Persian Gulf.