U.S. officials mum on report that military shot down Iranian drone
By STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 14, 2009
American military officials at all levels are refusing to comment on a report that the U.S. military shot down an Iranian drone flying over Iraq last month.
The report, carried on Wired.com’s Danger Room, said that an American fighter jet shot down the drone sometime in February, though few other details were available.
But, U.S. officials from the Pentagon to Baghdad had no comment.
"We have nothing for you on that," was the response issued by both Multi-National Force–Iraq and the Pentagon.
Officials at the U.S. Air Force Central Command headquarters referred all questions to MNFI.
The refusal to comment is at odds with repeated previous accusations of Iranian meddling in Iraq.
The accusations, ranging from the smuggling of weapons and fighters to the training of Shiite militias, have been tempered as the Obama administration reaches out to Iran on international issues.
In February, Iran’s deputy defense minister claimed the country had developed new unmanned aerial vehicles with a range of more than 600 miles.
That range could allow it to fly over every U.S. installation in Iraq, officials have said. Though, they have also noted that Iran frequently exaggerates the capabilities of its weapons systems.
Iran began developing UAVs in the early 1990s and has used them over both land and sea. According to The Washington Times, the Iranians also claimed to have developed "suicide drones" that could be used essentially as guided missiles against ground or sea targets.
Though ties between the two countries have improved since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, tensions between Iran and Iraq have mounted in recent weeks because of disputes over land and sea borders.
The Iran-Iraq war, which killed an estimated 1 million people between 1980 and 1988, was sparked in part by a struggle over control of the Shatt al-Arab waterway between the two countries.