Did Iran capture an American drone over the Persian Gulf, or just try to capture the imaginations of the mullahcracy’s subjects? Tehran claims it either shot down or somehow snagged an American intel drone on patrol over the Gulf, but as CNN reports, the US Navy reports that none of its unmanned vehicles are missing:
ABC also reports that the Navy sees nothing missing, but does report that the ScanEagle is “off the shelf” and could belong to someone else:
The United States has denied reports that Iran “caught” and landed a small U.S. drone flying over the Persian Gulf. The unarmed drone, called a ScanEagle, was flying in Iranian airspace when it was brought down by the Revolutionary Guard Corps, the country’s FARS news agency reported today.
But the U.S. Navy says it did not lose the drone, adding that the ScanEagle is an “off the shelf variety” and could have belonged to another country. …
The unmanned ScanEagle, 4-feet long with a 10-foot wingspan, is smaller, lighter and far less sophisticated than the Predators and Reapers that fly over places such as Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen. It can carry electro-optical and infrared cameras, fly above 16,000 feet and hover over a battlefield for more than 20 hours, according to its developers, Boeing and Insitu.
The ScanEagle is launched from ships with a “catapult launcher” and lands by catching a rope suspended from a 50-foot tower.
Who else might be launching drones into the Persian Gulf? I suppose it might have been Saudi Arabia, but I doubt that they’re going to operate drones in the area while the US is doing so. I’d guess that either we lost one a while back and the Iranians just got their hands on it, or they constructed a mock-up for propaganda purposes to divert attention from the ruinous domestic economic situation. Even if we did lose a ScanEagle, though, it looks like the intelligence Iran could glean from it would be minimal — which may be why we’re using these particular drones in this theater.