U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday that a U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship, the USS Boxer, defensively shot down an Iranian drone that had come within about 1,000 yards of it in the Strait of Hormuz.
“The Boxer took defensive action against an Iranian drone, which had closed into a near distance, approximately 1000 yards, ignoring multiple calls to stand down threatening safety of ship and ship’s crew,” Trump said, according to CNBC.
The drone “was immediately destroyed,” Trump said, and the incident was just “the latest of many provocative and hostile actions against vessels operating in international waters.”
The U.S. “reserves (the) right to defend our personnel, facilities (and) condemn Iran’s attempts to disrupt freedom of navigation and global commerce” in the hotly contested Strait of Hormuz, which borders Iran and where about a third of the world’s oil supply travels through. The ship had just arrived in the area Thursday as the U.S. is beefing up its military presence in the area against rising threats from Iran.
Trump also called on “other nations to protect their ships as they go through the strait, and work with us in the future.” Iran admitted Thursday to seizing a UAE-linked tanker on Sunday, a day after it said it had merely aided the ship, which it claimed was in distress on Wednesday.
Shooting down the drone is a bit of comeuppance for Iran, which shot down a U.S. Global Hawk drone worth about $130 million back in June in what the U.S. called an “unprovoked attack.”
The Pentagon also issued a statement after Trump spoke.
“At approximately 10 a.m. local time, the amphibious ship USS Boxer was in international waters conducting a planned inbound transit of the Strait of Hormuz,” the Pentagon said. “A fixed wing, unmanned aerial system (UAS) approached Boxer and closed within a threatening range. The ship took defensive action against the UAS to ensure the safety of the ship and its crew.”
Iran rejected the claim that its drone had been shot down, with its deputy foreign minister claiming the U.S. shot down its own drone on Twitter.
We have not lost any drone in the Strait of Hormuz nor anywhere else. I am worried that USS Boxer has shot down their own UAS by mistake!
— Seyed Abbas Araghchi (@araghchi) July 19, 2019
Iran’s Tasnim News Agency also quoted “a top Iranian general” who also said there were no missing drones, according to CNBC.
“Contrary to the false claim rooted in Trump’s illusions, all Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz … have returned safely to their bases after completing their scheduled reconnaissance and patrol missions,” Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi said in a statement Friday.
Iranian state news also said the country’s Revolutionary Guard will soon show evidence proving Trump wrong.
“Soon, images captured by the Guards drones from the U.S. warship Boxer will be published to expose to world public opinion as lies and groundless the claim… of shooting down an Iranian drone over the Strait of Hormuz,” it read.