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U.S. spy drone missing over Iraq



BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The official Iraqi News Agency reported on Tuesday that Iraq's anti-aircraft forces shot down a U.S. spy plane near the southern port city of Basra.

The Pentagon confirmed it had lost contact with a $3.2 million RQ-1B Predator unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

Pentagon officials said it would take them some time to determine whether the drone had malfunctioned or had been shot down, but they confirmed it was overdue for return.

RQ-1B 'Predator'
Wingspan: 48.7 feet 
Speed: Up to 140 mph 
Range: Up to 400 nautical miles 
Ceiling: Up to 25,000 feet  
System cost: $25 million (1999 dollars) 
 
RESOURCES
Message Board: Iraq 
 

Iraq claimed to have shot down the same kind of craft in the Basra area on August 27, and the Pentagon acknowledged losing a plane in that area.

But the U.S. military did not confirm that the plane was shot down by Iraqi air defenders, saying it was possible that the UAV had simply crashed as the result of a malfunction.

U.S. and British warplanes have been patrolling areas in the north and south of Iraq -- known as "no-fly zones" -- since the end of the Persian Gulf War in 1991. The zones were designed to protect minority Iraqi populations in those areas.

The coalition planes frequently launch strikes against Iraqi air defenses.

CNN's Jamie McIntyre and Rula Amin contributed to this report






RELATED STORIES:
RELATED SITES:
• Iraqi National Congress
• DefenseLINK - Official Web Site of the U.S. Department of Defense

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