Fox News reports confirmation from the U.S. Navy that Iran flew a surveillance drone over the aircraft USS Harry Truman on January 12, the same day Iran committed a war crime with impunity, by taking ten American sailors hostage and using them in video propaganda.
The flyover would have been rather difficult to deny, since Iran’s state-run news agencies have been gleefully running footage taken by the drone:
Iran Army drone takes footage of US aircraft carrier in Persian Gulf in drill pic.twitter.com/L0QYIItw7I
— Sobhan Hassanvand (@Hassanvand) January 29, 2016
For the record, the Navy is acknowledging that an unarmed Iranian drone flew “directly over” the Harry Truman, but is not saying it was the same one Iranian media is babbling about.
“I am not in a position to confirm the Iranian video or if the event described in Iranian media reports is the one from Jan. 12,” Fox News quotes 5th Fleet spokesman Commander Kevin Stephens saying.
That is not exactly comforting, as it would imply there might have been several Iranian drones buzzing our carrier at different times. Iranian TV reports are claiming this is indeed a different drone flight than the one Stephens referred to, occurring just last Friday.
It is also possible the footage triumphantly displayed by Iran is not genuine, as several news agencies joined the Navy in saying they could not verify its authenticity.
Also not comforting: the Associated Press cites Iran’s claims that one of their submarines was involved in the surveillance operation, in addition to the unmanned aerial vehicle.
Stephens went on to say the January 12 drone flew near the French carrier Charles de Gaulle as well, while the French and American ships were in the international waters of the Persian Gulf. He described the drone flight as “abnormal and unprofessional,” but said the unarmed craft “posed no danger” to the Harry Truman.
The Associated Press quotes Stephens saying the Navy launched a helicopter to make sure the drone was not armed, and he noted the carrier was not conducting flight operations at the time of the flyover.
Iran saluted the drone fight as “a sign of bravery” which “allowed our men to go so close to the warship and shoot such a beautiful and accurate footage of the combat units of the foreign forces,” to quote Admiral Habibollah Sayyari.
The USS Harry Truman is the same ship Iran approached with missile boats in December, launching rockets from just 1,500 yards away. The Navy described this act as “highly provocative.”
The Iranians are conducting naval drills in the Strait of Hormuz, the Gulf of Oman, and the Indian Ocean this week, and claim they warned an American warship out of the area on Wednesday. The U.S. Navy has denied any of its operations were affected by Iran’s military drill.