Boeing just presented its $350 billion defense contract to the president on Friday, but following last month’s killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike that the US has not publicly confirmed, there’s been some unavoidable speculation about what the missile that did the damage to Soleimani’s car was.
Trump presented its details to an audience at the Pentagon on Friday as part of an aggressive push for more funding for American defense and diplomacy, but it is worth considering how the administration is making its case.
Doubts and Hand-wringing and Hissy fits are going to run rampant when it comes to any such revelations that the US might eventually be able to produce from the unmanned pilotless aircraft that attacked the commander of the Quds Force. But the chances of an imminent disclosure of the missile (or weapon at all) are slim indeed.
In fact, the odds are in favor of complete silence, partly because of the dramatic type of weapon (the missile, not the air strike) and its associated circumstances.
We certainly won’t know for sure who the drone belonged to — that’s a task for US officials to reconcile as their silence echoes across the globe, but most experts are of the view that the Russian Air Force likely shot down the drone for the Iranians.
That’s because the small, five-bladed, robotic missile that the US used on the Iranian general’s car is a top-of-the-line item in the Russian Air Force’s collection of armed autonomous unmanned vehicles. If it has never been used before in combat, Iran may simply not know what to do with it; alternatively, given the close relationship between the Quds Force and Russian President Vladimir Putin, it could be an attempt to intimidate Iranian forces.
A US Air Force official confirmed to Bloomberg’s Ian Wishart on Tuesday that the US is considering the use of drones for precision strikes. Although neither the official nor anyone else at the Pentagon was willing to talk publicly about specific scenarios, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which the Air Force could be more aggressive in striking fighters.
Boeing purchased the UAV, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, in 2014.
The Quds Force has an estimated 50,000 foreign fighters under its control and has long since become one of the most feared organizations in Iran. Soleimani took control of the Quds Force in 2007, and his men are feared for their strong allegiance to Iran’s ruling system.