Marines Might Have Brought Down Multiple Iranian Drones from Navy Ship, 4-Star Says

 Marine Cpls. Fernando Anzaldua III and Jordan Gillett, gunners attached to the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, perform system checks on a Light Marine Air Defense Integrated System aboard the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) as it transits the Suez Canal on Jan. 12, 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Mike DiMestico)
Marine Cpls. Fernando Anzaldua III and Jordan Gillett, gunners attached to the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, perform system checks on a Light Marine Air Defense Integrated System aboard the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) as it transits the Suez Canal on Jan. 12, 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Mike DiMestico)

Marines likely blasted not just one Iranian drone out of the sky last week, but two, the commander of all U.S. troops in the Middle East said Tuesday from aboard the ship with the innovative new weapon system.

Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, told CBS News a second Iranian drone is believed to have been taken out by Marines within an hour of the first on Friday and that there might've been even more aircraft in the air.

"As always, it was a complex tactical picture. We believe two drones," he said. "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."

The incidents occurred about 60 minutes apart during a nine-hour trek through the Strait of Hormuz, CBS News reported. President Donald Trump said Friday that at least one of the drones had come within 1,000 yards of the Navy amphibious assault ship Boxer, on which the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit is deployed.

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Military.com was first to report last week that the Marines on the ship used the Light Marine Air Defense Integrated System, known as LMADIS, to jam an Iranian drone. The system is installed on a pair of all-terrain vehicles and can operate on the ground or aboard Navy ships.

LMADIS uses a radar and cameras to scan the skies for drones. If it locates a threat, it uses radio frequencies to jam the aircraft, rendering it useless and unable to be controlled.

Marines have been experimenting with the high-tech sensor and anti-drone systems on Navy ships for about a year.

CBS News said the Iranians were flying helicopter-like drones. The first disappeared from U.S. radars, according to the outlet, and the second was seen going into the water.

Iranian officials have disputed claims that any of its drones were taken out. One even suggested on Twitter that the Marines had taken out an American drone in error.

"We have not lost any drone in the Strait of Hormuz nor anywhere else," Seyed Abbas Araghchi, Iran's deputy foreign minister, tweeted Friday. "I am worried that USS Boxer has shot down their own [drone] by mistake!"

Trump called that a lie Tuesday and said anyone who wants to find it can take a look on the ocean floor.

"Take your scuba gear and go down there," he said.

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

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