On June 20 an American RQ-4 Global Hawk pilotless aircraft was shot down over the Persian Gulf by an Iranian S-300 missile defence system. This is a significant development because until now the US had enjoyed uncontested aerial supremacy in the Middle East (West Asia). The introduction of the Russian-built missile defence system seems to have complicated the strategy of US war planners. Iran’s rare success has led to some red faces in the Pentagon, but there is no doubt the Americans will work out ways to defeat this new missile threat.
A major impact of the incident has been in India where the military is reportedly rethinking the necessity of spending megabucks on high-altitude, long-endurance drones. India’s three services had planned to buy as many as 30 drones from the US at a cost of $6 billion. The plans were for the Indian Air Force and the Indian Army to each acquire 10 Predator-B hunter killer UAVs and the Navy to buy long-distance surveillance versions. In May 2018, the Donald Trump administration had greenlighted the supply of drones to India.
According to the military brass, the IAF has internally raised questions about an armed drone surviving in a contested airspace like over Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) or along the disputed border between India and China — with both adversaries having relatively modern air defence weapons, including surface-to-air missiles (SAM).
Hasty move India’s armed forces have shown a ten