Ira­nian drone scopes U. S. ships

The Denver Post - - NATION & WORLD - By The As­so­ci­ated Press

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

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