December 4, 2012
Iran claims it has captured another U.S. drone in its airspace over the Persian Gulf.
“The U.S. drone, which was conducting a reconnaissance flight and gathering data over the Persian Gulf in the past few days, was captured by the Guard’s navy air defense unit as soon as it entered Iranian airspace. Such drones usually take off from large warships,” said Gen. Ali Fadavi, navy chief of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.
The U.S. Navy disputed the claim and said all its unmanned aircraft in the region were “fully accounted for,” according to CBS News.
Iranian television showed footage of a Boeing-designed ScanEagle, described as a low-cost, long-endurance autonomous unmanned vehicle (see video above).
The aircraft was designed primarily for reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition and to “provide real-time information” that “allows tactical commanders to develop a clearer picture of the battlefield,” according to the Boeing website.
Iran chided the U.S. for the loss of the high-tech spy drone.
“The new US failure in spying operation by this drone demonstrated that the US government, despite its high military and economic power and its dominance on the world political order, is not capable of confronting the Islamic Iran, and Iran can easily undo all its plans,” Brigadier General Hossein Salami said on Tuesday, Press TV reports.
The Iranian claim comes hours after the Wall Street Journal published a story announcing that the United States has increased the number of drone missions over the Bushehr nuclear reactor in western Iran. The U.S. said it decided to step up surveillance after the alleged discovery of spent fuel rods at the site in October.
Iran has complained about the flights on numerous occasions. On December 9, 2011, the Iranian government sent a letter to the United Nations complaining about the overflights.
“This is not the only act of aggression and covert operation by the United States against the Islamic Republic of Iran,” the Iranian ambassador, Mohammad Khazaee, said in a letter to the U.N Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon. “My Government emphasizes that this blatant and unprovoked air violation by the United States Government is tantamount to an act of hostility against the Islamic Republic of Iran in clear contravention of international law, in particular, the basic tenets of the United Nations Charter.”
Last year, the Iranian military brought down an RQ-170 Sentinel stealth aircraft flying over the city of Kashmar, approximately 140 miles from the Afghan border. The CIA aircraft was considered so valuable, the Pentagon considered launching a military operation to destroy it. Iran refused to hand over the aircraft in December, 2011, after the U.S. asked for its return.
In November, Iran said it had fired at a U.S. drone over its territory. The Pentagon responding by stating that the surveillance craft was over international waters when Iran fired on it.