Drone Encounter

By Christopher J. Castelli / March 14, 2013 at 7:15 PM

Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today that an Iranian fighter jet "approached" a Defense Department surveillance drone this week.

"On March 12, an unarmed, unmanned, MQ-1 U.S. military aircraft conducting a routine classified surveillance flight over international waters in the Arabian Gulf was approached by an Iranian F-4 aircraft. The closest point of approach between these aircraft was approximately 16 miles," Little said in a statement.

"The MQ-1 was escorted by two U.S. military aircraft," Little added. "One of the U.S. aircraft discharged a flare as a warning to the Iranian plane, which then broke off pursuit. All U.S. aircraft remained over international waters at all times. Following the incident last November where an Iranian fighter aircraft fired upon an unarmed, unmanned MQ-1, the United States communicated to the Iranians that we will continue to conduct surveillance flights over international waters consistent with long-standing practice and our commitment to the security of the region. We also communicated that we reserve the right to protect our military assets as well as our forces and will continue to do so going forward."

UPDATE: DOD corrected the statement above after this entry was published, noting it did not discharge a flare as originally stated; the Iranian aircraft departed after a verbal warning.