U.S. Ship Destroyed Iranian Drone Over Strait Of Hormuz, Trump Says

Jul 18, 2019
Originally published on July 19, 2019 10:45 am

Updated at 1:45 a.m. ET on Friday

A U.S. Navy warship called the USS Boxer took down an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday, President Trump said, adding, "The drone was immediately destroyed." A senior Iranian official has denied that the country lost a drone.

"The Boxer took defensive action against an Iranian drone," Trump said, giving details about the encounter at the start of a flag presentation ceremony at the White House. He said the drone had closed to about 1,000 yards from the U.S. ship, "ignoring multiple calls to stand down."

The drone was threatening the safety of the U.S. ship and its crew, Trump said.

In a statement about the incident, chief Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman said that a drone approached the USS Boxer at around 10 a.m. local time and that the ship was in international waters, sailing in "an inbound transit of the Strait of Hormuz."

Hoffman described the drone as a "fixed wing unmanned aerial system (UAS)."

On Friday, Iran's deputy foreign minister denied that one of the country's drones was taken down.

"We have not lost any drone in the Strait of Hormuz nor anywhere else," Abbas Araghchi said in tweet. "I am worried that USS Boxer has shot down their own UAS by mistake!"

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While few details about the drone are available, a U.S. defense official tells NPR's Tom Bowman that the drone was "assessed to be Iranian" and that it was taken down by the Boxer because of "an aggressive act."

"This is the latest of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran against vessels operating in international waters," Trump said. "The United States reserves the right to defend our personnel, our facilities and interests."

This took place one day after Iran's military unveiled a new drone that it says is entirely Iranian-made. Called the Mohajer 6, the rear-propelled fixed-wing aircraft is "capable of detecting, intercepting and targeting the threats on missions inside or outside airspace," according to the official state news agency IRNA.

The day before a U.S. Navy ship took down a drone, Iran's official IRNA news agency published a story unveiling the Iranian army's new drone, called the Mohajer 6. It's not yet known how similar this drone might be to the one that was destroyed Thursday.
Islamic Republic News Agency

The official news agency cited Brig. Gen. Shahram Hassannejad in reporting that the new drone can carry "precision-guided projectiles" and can operate in a wide range of weather conditions and locations.

In his remarks, Trump called on other countries to condemn "Iran's attempts to disrupt freedom of navigation and global commerce." He added that other nations should also protect their ships in the strait, which lies between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.

Trump's description of a drone encounter came on the same day Iran announced that its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy has seized a foreign-flagged oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz. That interdiction took place on Sunday; Iran alleges that the ship was smuggling 1 million liters (264,000 gallons) of fuel.

NPR's Merrit Kennedy contributed to this report.

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