Iran’s attack on a US military drone earlier this year has had a catastrophic impact on the country’s military capabilities, with America potentially left with only two remaining drones.
In a statement released on Thursday, the US Navy said an RQ-4A Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Demonstrator (BAMS-D) "struck foreign object debris (FOD) during takeoff while supporting operations in the US Fifth Fleet area of responsibility" on November 26.
No personnel were injured, but the incident "resulted in damage to the port side of the aircraft", according to the Express website.
The US Navy had modified five of the drone models, also known as Global Hawks. They do not fly from a carrier and have a 130-foot wingspan.
They can remain in flight for up to 30 hours, potentially covering around 9,000 miles, hitting 65,000 feet in height.
One of the drones was shot down by Iran in June. The drone was shot down in a surface-to-air missile strike over the Strait of Hormuz.
The Iranian Army took down the Global Hawk by its indigenous Khordad 3 air defense system after it had breached the country’s airspace on a spying mission and unheeded numerous warnings.
US President Donald Trump went out of his way to thank Iran for the “wise” decision not to shoot down an American military plane with a crew of 38 aboard. Trump said Iran had a manned plane “in their sights” but instead hit the remotely-piloted surveillance plane, “and that’s something we really appreciate.”
Former US secretary of defense, Jim Mattis, said Iran should be met with "some sort of retaliation" for its downing of the aircraft.
Another drone was destroyed when it crashed during a test in 2012 in Maryland, US.
This left the US Navy with only two more its original fleet, according to Newsweek.
The magazine reported that the Pentagon was having second thoughts about the drones, and that the US Air Force was looking to retire 21 of its own 35 RQ-4 Global Hawks.
The drone model is estimated to cost some $180 million.
The reported move came amid the growing capabilities of competitors like Russia and China, as well as increasingly powerful tools being developed by other powers like Iran, Newsweek magazine said.