Iran Says US Drone Entered Iranian Airspace, Turned Off ID Transponder

Pentagon denies drone ever entered Iranian territory

Late Wednesday evening, a US RQ-4A surveillance drone was shot down by Iran, and crashed into the Strait of Hormuz. Why it was shot down, and what it was doing at the time, have been the subject of substantial debate.

US officials have presented the surveillance drone as minding its own business in the tiny gap between Iranian and Omani airspace. The Iranians, however, say the US drone had entered their territory when it was shot down.

It wasn’t just that a surveillance drone from a hostile nation entered their airspace, though surely Iran would be unhappy about that in and of itself. The Revolutionary Guards reported that the drone turned off its ID transponder, violating aviation rules, and generally a universal international signal that a flying vehicle is up to something untoward.

The Pentagon only offered a very basic map of the region claiming that the flight path never crossed into Iranian airspace. This is hardly conclusive though, since all it amounts to is a yellow line on a stock map.

The US Navy complained that the drone cost $110 million, though realistically it ought to have known that bringing it even close to Iranian airspace would be putting it in serious jeopardy, given mounting tensions and talk of a US attack.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.