November 8th, 2012
02:00 PM ET

FIRST ON CNN: Iranian jets fire on U.S. drone

By Barbara Starr

Two Iranian Su-25 fighter jets fired on an unarmed U.S. Air Force Predator drone in the Persian Gulf on November 1, the Pentagon disclosed on Thursday.

The incident, reported first by CNN, raised fresh concerns within the Obama administration about Iranian military aggression in crucial Gulf oil shipping lanes.

The drone was on routine maritime surveillance in international airspace east of Kuwait, 16 miles off the coast of Iran, U.S. officials said. The Predator was not hit.

Also: U.S. adds to Iran sanctions

"Our aircraft was never in Iranian airspace. It was always flying in international air space. The recognized limit is 12 nautical miles off the coast and we never entered the 12 nautical mile limit," Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said in responding to questions from reporters after CNN reported the incident.

Little said the United States believed this was the first time an unmanned aircraft was shot at by the Iranians in international waters over the Gulf.  In December of 2011, a U.S. surveillance drone crashed in eastern Iran.  Iranians claimed to have shot it down, and created a toy model of the drone to celebrate its capture.

Little stopped short of calling the incident an act of war although the Pentagon was concerned.

Also: Obama faces world of challenges in second terms

Two U.S. officials explained the jets were part of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps force, which has been more confrontational than regular Iranian military forces.

At least two bursts of gunfire came from the Su-25s' cannons. The drone started to move away but the Iranian aircraft chased it, doing aerial loops around it before breaking away and returning to Iran.

The Obama administration did not disclose the incident before the presidential election, but three senior officials confirmed the details to CNN on Thursday.  They declined to be identified because of sensitive intelligence matters surrounding the matter.

The drone's still and video cameras captured the incident showing two Su-25s approaching the Predator and firing onboard guns.

The Iranian pilots continued to fire shots that went beneath the Predator but were never successful in hitting it, according to the officials.

U.S. military intelligence analysts are still not sure if the Iranian pilots simply were unable to hit the drone due to lack of combat skill, or whether they deliberately were missing and had no intention of bringing it down.

But as one of the officials said, "it doesn't matter, they fired on us."

Little said the United States has to assume Iran was trying to bring down the Predator.

The United States protested the incident but had not heard back from Iran.

Iran has, at other times, been confrontational in the region.  In January, the U.S. military and coast guard had close encounters with Iranian Navy vessels which approached at high speeds and exhibited provocative behavior.

Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the United States, declined to say whether his country knew about the incident before Pentagon officials

soundoff (3,879 Responses)
  1. CharlieSeattle

    1. "Our aircraft was never in Iranian airspace. It was always flying in international air space. The recognized limit is 12 nautical miles off the coast and we never entered the 12 nautical mile limit," Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said in responding to questions from reporters after CNN reported the incident.

    2. In December of 2011, a U.S. surveillance drone crashed in eastern Iran.
    ..................Just a bit of course?

    Which remark is a blatant lie?

    Is the US staging another "Gulf Of Tonkin" false flag event?

    I think so.

    November 28, 2013 at 10:22 am | Reply
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  13. CharlieSeattle

    ... In December of 2011, a U.S. surveillance drone crashed in eastern Iran.

    It to was flying outside the 12 mile nautical limit off the Iranian coast.

    Do the math on that one.

    January 19, 2013 at 11:01 am | Reply
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  15. CharlieSeattle

    US Military is staging a series of fake "Gulf Of Tonkin" incidents. US Military admits it crashed two drones inside of Iran.

    THAT IS THE TRUE ACT OF PROVOCATION FOR WAR!

    December 3, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Reply
  16. Rob Robinson

    I call bullsh!t. Where is the evidence? Where is the tapes/footage of the ongoing attacks? I'm QUITE sure this is just MORE tall tales being fed to the American public, to justify later attacks on Iran. Having said that, I'm NO fan of the leadership of that country. But, time and time again, the American leadership has OUTRIGHT LIED about things JUST like this, to validate whatever scheme they're up to at the time.

    Why do I say this? Lets see....anyone have the time and money to go to Iran to investigate this for themselves? No? Exactly. This is yet another 'incident' that conveniently happens on the other side of the planet, because the American leadership KNOWS that nobody will go to Iran, just to see if it's true.

    I spent a career in the military, and I can VOUCH for the fact that this happens on a REGULAR basis.

    November 29, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Reply
  17. ME

    Why did they use a ground attack aircraft to attack the drone?

    November 13, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Reply
    • CharlieSeattle

      It was the only one that was working that day.

      January 1, 2013 at 11:55 am | Reply
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  20. Jerry Wesner

    So picture this. There's an Iranian drone 15 miles off the coast of the United States. We - what? Sit still and wait for it to get closer? Call their government and ask that it be removed? Demand that the United Nations censure Iran? Or would we blast it into oblivion and feel totally justified in doing so?

    November 11, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Reply
    • TGK

      No we would not "blast it into oblivion" Jerry, and no we wouldn't be "justified". Glad you're not in charge of running NORAD and making bone-headed command decisions...

      November 11, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Reply
      • Randy

        No the correct answer is, invite it to a party. Yes the correct answer is to destroy it, because it is spying ou the U.S.. And when it comes to spies, all is fair game. It's people like you that brings us Benghazi and the deaths of 4 Americans.

        November 11, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
  21. AngryJew

    I think that we should protect ourselves from Israel not Iran.

    November 11, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Reply
  22. Daniel-Lyons

    I guess another lie for America to push harder on the weak.
    Bullies of the world with more brawn than brains.
    Absolute joke.
    Cannot wait until China wipes your disgrace of a nation off the map.

    November 11, 2012 at 7:22 am | Reply
    • rdc8990

      Yes! We, Americans, are SO worried about China. Soon as they can manufacturer a jet engine they might be trouble As it stands, once shipping lanes are cut for China to Russia, they will even be unable to use cold-war technology to power their "stealth" air fighters.

      November 11, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Reply
    • pbernasc

      trust me .. dude, on the day the Chinese will have wiped of the Americans, u will find yourself which they didn't.

      That said , it ain't going to happen dude;-)

      November 11, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Reply
  23. rdc8990

    Russian – Chinese - excuse my mistake. You are correct, the Iranian Airforce uses Russian planes as well as Chinese J-*'s.

    A warthog? Hahah! One is a Fighter the other is a Air to ground attack plane. You still lose.

    Whats' up with all these 50yr old keyboard commandos on CNN? I guess they get picked on IRL so they are smartasses on the Internet. Despite the case, have life!

    November 11, 2012 at 4:12 am | Reply
  24. Ashneel

    Mr majid,your talk is full of anger,anger leads towards war.but let me tell you and your iranian leaders, time is running out,its time to talk,or.face the bell never seen before.we have faith in Obama and he is loved by the whole world.

    November 10, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Reply
    • blue ice

      SORRY BUT OBLAMA BOY IS NOT LOVED AROUND THE WORLD HE IS ONE OF THE MOST HATED MIEN IN THE WORLD cept for the musslims and those of his color !

      November 10, 2012 at 11:04 pm | Reply
      • Ashneel

        Hey blue ice,don't melt like a ice with full of anger.Obama is and will be a great leader and he is loved the whole world.please do travel around the world and do ask people how much they like him.I have done that and I know it.so shut up and pants down.

        November 11, 2012 at 1:16 am |
      • Chris

        I love Obama. He is definately not hated as you say. You are one angry Rebuplican't!

        November 26, 2012 at 11:11 am |
  25. majid

    be sure we dead >u dead & earth we are iranians not arabs

    November 10, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Reply
    • Ashneel

      Mr majid,I won't be dead or the world will be dead,this is your anger talking.what has your Iranian leaders gave you,only hard life and suffering.Get up and think of your future and your kids future.do the right thing.

      November 11, 2012 at 2:44 am | Reply
      • majid

        u know, fk iranian leaders and them policy
        u are right about them and me, but obama and america not sent by god and lies flow like a river.
        they feel danger about iranian army and get fk iranian people to revolution and stop it but people is tired to change
        my friend all this things go to a war i know it and believe it happening soon . i have to defend my country in any way
        every culture have rise and fall and we are in fall term a long time but i like to keep it safe for hope of change
        good luck my dear friend :)

        November 11, 2012 at 4:21 am |
      • Ashneel

        Have faith in your god,soon some one will be in your country to help you all.

        November 11, 2012 at 4:29 am |
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