On Tuesday Iran claimed it had captured another American drone over the Persian Gulf, U.S. officials denied the claim. The Islamic Republic is claiming that the United States has invaded its airspace.
Iranian state-run media published photos and videos saying the drone was captured “after violating the country’s airspace,” said an announcer with Iran’s Press TV.
The announcement was initially made by Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, who said the unmanned air vehicle (UAV) that was captured is a ScanEagle, a Boeing-manufactured UAV with a 10-foot wingspan.
“Such drones are usually launched from large warships,” Fadavi said, according to the semi-official Fars News Agency.
The move was part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ “readiness” to conduct “all kinds of missions” to control the Persian Gulf and the strategic Strait of Hormuz, Fadavi was quoted by the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency as saying.
The U.S. Navy has fully accounted for all unmanned air vehicles operating in the Middle East region — Navy Commander Jason Salata
The ScanEagle had conducted several flights over the Persian Gulf in recent days but was taken ? by Iranian air defense units, according to Fars News. It is unclear if the drone was shot down.
Press TV, Iran’s state-run English channel, and Al-Alam, a state-run Arabic channel, both showed Iranian commanders examining the UAV, which had no discernable markings that suggest it belongs to the United States.
A spokesperson with the U.S. Navy said that no drones went missing in the region.
“The U.S. Navy has fully accounted for all unmanned air vehicles operating in the Middle East region,” Navy Commander Jason Salata said, according to the Army Times. “Our operations in the Gulf are confined to internationally recognized water and air space.”
Iran has frequently claimed the United States has violated its airspace with drones, a charge that the United States has denied.
Last December, Iran claimed that it captured a U.S. RQ-170 Sentinel, a high-altitude UAV, after shooting it down over its airspace. The United States admitted to losing a drone, but said it crashed in the Iranian desert after leaving a base in Afghanistan.
Later, Iran claimed its scientists were able to reverse engineer the drone and were building a copy of it.
The ScanEagle is markedly less sophisticated than the RQ-170 and is used commercially to collect weather data and information about fish.
It is designed to be low-cost and high-endurance, able to travel for more than 20 hours at a time without refueling, according to Boeing subsidiary Insitu Inc. The drone can be launched via a catapult from vehicles or small ships.
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