Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) says it shot down a U.S. surveillance drone in the early hours of Thursday morning. Iran says the aircraft violated its airspace
near Kuhmobarak in the southern province of Hormozgan. The United States later admitted the loss, telling Reuters that it occurred in international airspace. It was originally believed to be a U.S. Navy MQ-4C Triton which is a maritime patrol and reconnaissance platform. However, the U.S. military later stated that it was an RQ-4A Global Hawk which was being used by the navy.
While U.S. drones getting shot down are nothing new (an MQ-9 Reaper was shot down by a Houthi missile over Yemen
as recently as last week), the involvement of a Global Hawk is particularly interesting given its size and cost. One of the largest drones in existence, the Global Hawk has an operational endurance of 30 hours and a maximum altitude of more than 60,000ft. It also has a hefty pricetag. According to the latest reporting from the Government Accountability Office, Iran shot down an unmanned aircraft with a unit cost of $123 million in FY2015.
*Following international media reports, a previous version of this infographic decribed the aircraft as an MQ-4C. It has now been updated to show it was actually an RQ-4A.