Coali­tion Jets Shoot Down Iran­ian Drone Over Iraq

By Don­na Miles
Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice

WASHINGTON, March 16, 2009 — Coali­tion jet fight­ers shot down an Iran­ian drone that was hov­er­ing over Iraq late last month, Multi­na­tion­al Force Iraq offi­cials con­firmed today. The inci­dent occurred Feb. 25, about 60 miles north­east of Bagh­dad, offi­cials said in a state­ment.

Two coali­tion air­craft were direct­ed to visu­al­ly iden­ti­fy the unmanned aer­i­al vehi­cle after it was detect­ed hov­er­ing inside the Iraqi bor­der. The pilots con­firmed that it was­n’t a coali­tion air­craft and that no col­lat­er­al dam­age would result from a shoot-down. Coali­tion air forces tracked the UAV for more than an hour before the pilots engaged it, offi­cials said.

“This was not an acci­dent on the part of the Ira­ni­ans,” offi­cials said. “The UAV was in Iraqi air­space for near­ly one hour and 10 min­utes and well inside Iraqi ter­ri­to­ry before it was engaged.”

Offi­cials said they believe the drone to be an Iran­ian-made Aba­bil 3 mod­el UAV.

Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates and mil­i­tary lead­ers have long accused Iran of inter­fer­ence in Iraq. Iran pos­es “a real prob­lem,” Gates said on PBS’ “Tavis Smi­ley Show” March 11.

“I think it’s one of the sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenges that we’re going to face over the next sev­er­al years,” he said.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)