Tehran has claimed it captured an American spy drone after the aircraft entered its airspace, Iran’s Press TV reports. The US Navy and the White House denied the claim, saying that none of Washington's drones in the Gulf region were lost.
In response to a journalist’s question about the allegations, White House spokesman Jay Carney said, “We have no evidence that the Iranian claims you cite are true.”
"All our active unmanned aerial vehicles working here have been accounted for,” US 5th Fleet spokesperson Commander Jason Salata said earlier.
In response, Iranian Revolutionary Guard spokesperson Brigadier General Ramezan Sharif advised US commanders to count their drones again.
"Its capture is not an issue the Americans can easily refute," Sharif said.
The Iranian media even showed the video footage of the ScanEagle, claiming it was that very flying object Iran captured.
The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps stated that it has managed to remove data from the drone, allowing officials to understand what kind of intelligence Washington is gathering.
“We have fully extracted the drone’s data,” the IRGC public relations department said on Wednesday, as cited by Press TV. “The drone, in addition to gathering military data, was used to pursue gathering data in the field of energy, especially the transfer of oil from Iran’s oil terminals.”
It is not the first time that US drones have been brought down in Iran. Tehran earlier reported about at least dozens instances of American spy drones shut down since the US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The drone may be an unharmed surveillance aircraft, but according to international law, violation of a sovereign state air space constitutes an act of war and can be referred to the UN Security Council,” Press TV earlier reported.
The drone was identified as a US-made ScanEagle that was allegedly gathering intelligence on Iran, which was detected after flying over the Persian Gulf for the past two days.
The Islamic Revolution Guard Corps Navy captured the drone after the aircraft violated Iranian airspace, naval chief Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi said.
"Such drones are usually sent [on a] mission from large warships," Fadavi told Fars news agency.
The ScanEagle is manufactured by Boeing, and is four feet long with a 10-foot (3-meter) wingspan.
- small, low-cost and long-endurance drone
- can deploy outside of airfield
- equipped with electro-optical or infrared camera
- able to track both stationary and moving targets, provide real-time intelligence
- capable of flying above 4800 meters
- product of a partnership between Boeing and Insitu
- currently used by US Navy, US Marine Corps, Canadian Forces and Australian Defence Forces
The US has reportedly increased its number of spy drone missions into Iran over the past two months on concerns over Iran’s alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons, the Wall Street Journal said.
The US has stepped up its use of state-of-the-art unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) capable of recording multiple media formats from thousands of feet in the air.
In a November 19 letter sent from Tehran and made available to the Journal, Iranian leaders appealed to the United Nations to complain about Washington’s drone spying.
Amid these concerns, a US drone was detected near the Iranian city of Bushehr, and was tailed by Iranian fighter jets who attempted to shoot down the aircraft.
And 11 months earlier, a spy drone operated by the US was intercepted mid-flight by Iran and grounded. Iranian engineers then allegedly dismantled and reverse-engineered the UAV.
Iran later said that the drone was top-secret and equipped with stealth technology, and that Tehran had begun building its own version.
The US originally denied they lost a drone over Iran before changing their story and insisting that they lost contact with the craft during a surveillance mission over neighboring Afghanistan.
University of Tehran professor Seyed Mohammad Marandi told RT that Iran will profit from drones by using them against potential enemies.
“The Iranians will be using the technology to develop more advanced drones of theirs where they can use to survey or carry out surveillance operations over Palestine as well as over areas in the Persian Gulf,” he said.
Marandi claimed the captured drone had violated international law, and that such actions will make Iran more aggressive against the US.
“What is significant is that this highs tension, because this forces Iran to behave more aggressively towards the United States and its allies because it sees such actions as a potential threat,” Marandi said.