The Pentagon confirmed on March 16 that the U.S. military shot down one of Iran's unarmed drone planes in Iraqi airspace in February. There were no casualties.
Drones are being used for an increasing number of missile and surveillance missions. In December, Iran launched a new generation of "spy drones," which can take real-time surveillance over enemy terrain. Some have a range of 2,000 kilometers, an Iranian air force officer told the press last month.
"The Washington Times" noted in an editorial
that Iranian planes can now "soar over every U.S. military installation, diplomatic mission, or country of interest in the Middle East," and Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on PBS's "Tavis Smiley Show
" on March 11 that Iranian interference in Iraq is "a real problem."
Coalition jet fighters tracked the drone for over an hour in Iraqi airspace.
U.S. drones do 34 surveillance patrols each day in Iraq and Afghanistan and take 16,000 hours of video each month, sometimes transmitting information directly to troops on the ground.
Separately, the CIA recently extended U.S. drone attacks into Pakistan’s Baluchistan Province, a move Pakistan says violates its sovereignty. Since taking office, President Barack Obama has ordered six drone attacks in Pakistan that killed over 100 people.