TEHRAN: An Iranian fighter jet has pursued a US surveillance drone over the Persian Gulf, the Pentagon says.
The Pentagon press secretary, George Little, said Thursday that the incident occurred on March 12 as a US Predator drone was conducting a routine classified surveillance mission.
An Iranian F-4 aircraft approached within 16 miles (about 25 kilometers) of the drone, which was accompanied by two US military planes.
US officials initially said one of the two planes discharged a flare as a warning to the Iranian jet. The officials, however, later denied the statement.
On March 12, Commander of Irans Khatam al-Anbiya Air Defense Base Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili said the Islamic Republic had identified and repelled an American U2 reconnaissance plane that was trying to intrude Irans airspace above the Sea of Oman on February 10.
The commander also stated that the radar-evading plane left the zone after receiving a warning from Irans air defense units.
In November 2012, Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi said the military had driven away an unidentified plane violating Irans airspace above its territorial waters in the Persian Gulf.
In addition, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy commander, Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, said on December 4, 2012, that the IRGC forces had captured a US ScanEagle drone over the waters of the Persian Gulf after it violated the Iranian airspace.
The Iranian military also grounded a US RQ-170 Sentinel stealth aircraft in December, while the drone was flying over the city of Kashmar, some 225 kilometers (140 miles) from Irans border with Afghanistan. The RQ-170 was brought down with minimal damage by the Iranian Armys electronic warfare unit.
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