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A Big Threat to the U.S. Military In a War?

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Key Point: The latest encounter in the Gulf between the USS Boxer and one of Iran’s drones offers us a glimpse on how addressing these challenges might be in the future.

On July 18, an Iranian drone approached the U.S. Navy ship USS Boxer in international waters while it was on its way to the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf. The drone ignored multiple calls to stand down and came close to around 1,000 yards from the American ship, prompting the Marines on board to shoot it down. A statement by chief Pentagon spokesman, Jonathan Hoffman, said the drone approached the ship and “closed within a threatening range” and that “[we] took defensive action against the [drone] to ensure the safety of the ship and its crew.” 

Iran denied that one of its drones had been shot down. Commenting on the incident, spokesman of the Iranian Armed Forces Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi said all of Iran’s drones in the area had returned safely to their bases after completing scheduled surveillance and control operations, including the mentioned one. To support its claim, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) released a video shot from a drone tracking the USS Boxer. The IRGC boosted that the drone recorded three hours of video of the USS Boxer and five other vessels from when they had entered the Strait of Hormuz. Though the video offers no evidence that the drone had not been shot down, the recording gives us an idea on the increasing role of drones in Iran’s asymmetric operations.

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