The incident took place on Nov. 1 just before 5 a.m. Washington time, Pentagon chief spokesman George Little revealed on Thursday. The Predator was conducting a “routine surveillance” mission 16 nautical miles off the coast of Iran when two Iranian Su-25 Frogfoot attack jets, which usually shoot at targets on the ground, “intercepted” the drone. The Iranian pilots engaged in something of a 21st-century dogfight, turning their 30-mm guns on the Predator on at least two passes.
The dogfight turned out to be lopsided. Not only did the Predator lack the weaponry to return fire, it probably couldn’t have, as the drones don’t typically carry air-to-air missiles. But in any event, the Iranian pilots missed the drone outright. “The MQ-1 was not hit, and returned to its base safely,” Little said. At all times, Little emphasized, the drone was over international waters and never entered Iranian airspace.