Despite a years-long history of intermittently sniping at one another’s drones in the skies over Iraq, Afghanistan and the Arabian Gulf, the United States and Iran have for the most part avoided each other in the air.
But with the US now flying about 50 missions a day over Iraq and a dedicated Iranian drone and signals intelligence presence having been established in Baghdad, the two rivals find themselves overtly sharing the same airspace, even while denying any coordination or contact.
Of course, Iraq is a big place, and the prospect of two aircraft bumping into one another is remote. But given the “shoot first, ask questions later” approach the two countries have taken toward one another’s unmanned aerial assets, the possibility for another volley exists in the long-running, if rather sleepy, drone war. […]