Iranian drone scopes U. S. ships
tehran, iran » Iran flew a surveillance drone over a U. S. aircraft carrier and published video of the encounter Friday, the latest in a series of edgy naval incidents between the two countries in the Persian Gulf after the recent nuclear deal.
While the U. S. Navy stressed it knew the drone was unarmed and the flyover didn’t interrupt U. S. operations in thewar against the Islamic State, the incident underlined the continued tension over control of waterways crucial to global oil supplies. It follows a rocket test last month by the Islamic Republic near coalition warships and commercial traffic, as well as Iran’s brief capture of American sailors who strayed into itswaters.
Iranian state television and the semi- official Fars news agency, which has close ties to the Revolutionary Guard, published identical images Friday that both said came from the drone. The footage, which The Associated Press could not independently verify, purported to show the drone being launched then hovering over an unidentified aircraft carrier, a targeting bracket briefly passing over a jet parked on the deck below.
The Iranian reports suggested the footage was from Friday. However, Cmdr. Kevin Stephens, a spokesman for the U. S. Navy’s 5th Fleet based in Bahrain, said an unarmed Iranian drone flew near the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and “directly over” the USSHarry S. Truman on Jan. 12 as the vesselswere in international waters in the Persian Gulf.
He said the Navy launched a helicopter that determined the drone wasn’t armed and “posednodanger to the ship.” The carrier wasn’t conducting flight operations at the time. His comments implied that had there been active takeoffs and landings of U. S. aircraft, the situation might have changed. Stephens called the drone’s flight “abnormal and unprofessional.” He added that the U. S. Navy was “not in a position to verify the authenticity of the video as there are countless examples of similar footage to be found on the Internet.”
This image, made from video broadcast on Iranian State television Friday, shows drone footage of a U. S. aircraft carrier. Iranian State Television