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U.S. loses another drone over Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraq claims to have shot down another unmanned U.S. spy plane over the southern no-fly zone.

The Pentagon confirmed it lost the plane over Iraq on Wednesday. It is the third such aircraft lost this year over Iraq.

A release from the U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida says: "An unarmed United States Air Force RQ-1B Predator unmanned aerial vehicle on a routine mission in support of Operation Southern Watch was reported missing today in southern Iraq at approximately 0545 EDT."

The Pentagon says the aircraft may have crashed or been shot down.

State-run Iraqi television said Iraq had shot down a spy plane. It later showed pictures of the wreckage.

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) 
Message Board: Iraq 

There is no plan to recover the aircraft, and no sensitive technology will be compromised by not recovering the aircraft, a Pentagon statement said.

The United States lost two Predators in September.

Iraq claimed to have shot down both of them.

"The spy plane was shot down in the southern sector and was coming from Kuwaiti territory," the state-run Iraqi News Agency quoted an unidentified Iraqi military official as saying.

The Iraqi official said the plane was downed at 12:42 p.m. local time "in revenge of the martyrs of Iraq and Palestine."

U.S. and British aircraft patrol southern and northern "no-fly" zones to prevent Iraqi forces from attacking Kurds in the north and Shiite Muslims in the south and to provide early warning of any Iraqi troop movements toward Kuwait.

Iraq considers the zones -- established after the 1991 Gulf War -- illegal and has vowed to shoot down any coalition planes.

• Iraqi National Congress
• U.S. Department of Defense

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