20 June 2019: Iran Shoots Down U.S. Military Drone Over Persian Gulf
A United States military unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV aka 'drone') has been shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile (SAM) over the Persian Gulf.
Iran has claimed that the drone was flying over Iranian territorial waters, but the Pentagon has released a map showing the full flight path of the Navy-operated drone along with its point of destruction. Iran claims that during a 'second pass' of its flight, the drone violated their territorial airspace and waters where they engaged it with the SAM battery.
The unmanned aircraft shot down was a version of the Northrop Grumman RQ-4 designated BAMS-D (Broad Area Maritime Surveillance-Demonstrator) — this is a pre-production test series of only 4 vehicles, built since 2012, for medium- and high-altitude ocean surveillance by the United States Navy. (The fully operational, production version of the BAMS drone is called the MQ-4C Triton; these aircraft have begun production but are not scheduled to be deployed by the Navy in this area until later this year.)
From Naval Support Activity Bahrain, Task Force 57 provides airborne maritime patrol and reconnaissance using BAMS drones and other assets throughout the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations including the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean.
India (Iran's second largest petroleum customer after China) has deployed some of its naval vessels and maritime surveillance aircraft to the Gulf region in response to the latest actions.
An Indian Navy spokesperson stated that the deployments are to provide "security" for Indian-flagged ships traversing the waters between Iran, Oman and Saudi Arabia.