U.S. Navy says all drones are accounted for, contradicting Iranian claims
By End the Lie
Last night Iranian state media reported (see videos below) that they captured an American Scan Eagle drone after it entered Iranian airspace, but the U.S. Navy is now claiming that all drones in the region were “fully accounted for,” according to the Associated Press.
Just last year Iran said that they captured an American drone, after which they provided visual evidence of the capture. Therefore, it is not quite hard to believe that the United States could have flown yet another drone into sovereign Iranian airspace and the reasons for the U.S.’s denial aren’t quite hard to imagine.
Furthermore, early in November it was reported that Iran attacked a U.S. drone over international waters, a report which was implicitly confirmed by Iran.
While Cmdr. Jason Salata, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet operating out of Bahrain, told the AP that all drones were accounted for, he did admit that some Scan Eagles “have been lost into the water” over the years, but there is no “record of that occurring most recently.”
According to Wired’s Danger Room, the Iranians cannot gain all that much from “from examining and even disassembling one of the 40-pound, catapult-launched Scan Eagles, [which are] fairly basic UAVs built by Boeing and Insitu.”
Yet this capture is more meaningful than one might think since it is “indicative of the ramp-up in U.S. robotic surveillance tied to increasing concern over Iran’s nuclear program.”
Of course, according to U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, this program is not actually aimed at producing a nuclear weapon. This fact has also been confirmed by an Israeli military official and the U.S. intelligence community.
The Wall Street Journal also reported earlier this week that, according to U.S. officials, the United States has “significantly stepped up” its surveillance of the Iranian Bushehr nuclear power plant beginning in October.
This increased surveillance was reportedly begun because “Tehran’s engineers unexpectedly removed two weapons-grade plutonium rods from the brand-new facility.”
The attack in November was, according to Iran, justified by the fact that the drone was allegedly spying on the Bushehr plant. Unsurprisingly, the United States denied the claims.
“Likewise, it’s widely believed the Afghanistan-based Sentinel was also gathering data on Iranian nuclear enrichment when it went down,” according to Danger Room.
“Tuesday’s conflicting accounts leave open the possibility that Iran could have obtained the ScanEagle by other means and unveiled it now for maximum publicity,” The Wall Street Journal reports.
Indeed, as Danger Room pointed out, the Scan Eagle is one of the most common drones in the world and is not quite fit for the type of surveillance mentioned above.
“Instead, it’s more of a tactical system meant to extend the visual range of ships, commando forces and air base defenders,” Danger Room notes.
While Iranian officials said that the Scan Eagle in question was launched from a U.S. aircraft carrier – likely the USS John C. Stennis operating in the region – Danger Room reports that “carriers do not routinely deploy the catapult and tower-mounted hook for launching and landing Scan Eagles, as they could interfere with regular flight ops.”
Then again, it doesn’t require an aircraft carrier to launch a Scan Eagle. They can be deployed from a wide variety of Navy vessels including destroyers, patrol boats and more.
“With as many as 22 Scan Eagles in the air at any given time, according to Boeing, the U.S. could virtually swarm the Iranian coast with the small flying robots, if it wished,” Danger Room adds.
It remains to be seen if Iran did indeed capture a Scan Eagle and if the U.S. Navy is simply covering up their mistakes or if it is simply a publicity stunt meant to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the Iranian capture of the U.S. Sentinel drone.
“Tuesday marked the one-year anniversary of Iran’s capture of an RQ-170 Sentinel drone that was operated by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency from Afghanistan,” The Wall Street Journal pointed out.
The possibility of this being a publicity stunt is hardly out of the question since it was quickly jumped upon by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
“Our enemies should know that our history is 10 times longer than theirs,” said Ahmadinejad. “It’s possible that the enemy will take a few steps forward but we will push them back to their own borders.”
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A longer video from Press TV: