The U.S. believes it may have brought down two Iranian, rather than just the one that has been reported, CENTCOM Commander Gen. Kenneth McKenzie told CBS News' David Martin in an interview Tuesday aboard the USS Boxer, the ship that took action against the drones. Asked by Martin whether it was "only one drone," McKenzie revealed that he believed the Boxer had engaged two drones "successfully" and perhaps even more.
"As always it was a complex tactical picture, we believe two drones. We believe two drones were successfully — there may have been more that we are not aware of — those are the two that we engaged successfully," said McKenzie.
"So you, you actually brought down two drones, not just one?" Martin pressed.
"We are confident we brought down one drone, we may have brought down a second," McKenzie replied.
Martin told CBSN on Tuesday that the incidents occurred about an hour apart during the nine-hour passage through the Strait of Hormuz. The first drone was viewed by the ship as approaching too close, so the Boxer took action, though it's still not clear exactly what that action was.
"It was not a missile or any kind of projectile," Martin said. It was some kind of electronic signal or pulse used to disable the flight controls of the helicopter-like Iranian drone. The first drone, Martin said, simply disappeared from U.S. radars — there was no splash in the water seen by the ship. But there was a visual sighting of the second drone going into the water.
Martin reported that the drones were perceived to be flying too close to the ship, potentially interfering with the Boxer's flight operations. The Boxer is a ship that can carry about 30 aircraft, and it was operating helicopters as it was going through the strait, to keep an eye on nearby Iranian crafts and helicopters, Martin said.
President Trump himselflast Thursday.
The downing of the drone marked another escalation in tensions less than a month after Mr. Trump nearly launched an airstrike against Iran.
Iran has claimed, however, that the U.S. did not bring down its drone. The country's elite Revolutionary Guard later released video it claimed proves the U.S. warship didn't destroy one of its drones. However, Mr. Trump, speaking from the Oval Office Friday, said there was "no doubt" that a U.S. warship had destroyed the drone.