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Iran said it was forced to capture the drone after it "invaded" Iranian airspace

Is the U.S. in the midst of drone debacle 2.0?  Iran claims so.

I. Iran Say It's Captured Mid-Sized U.S. ScanEagle Drone

The hostile Middle Eastern superpower's police/military organization -- the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) -- claimed on its website on Dec. 4 to have "captured" a U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that had been hovering around its air space for several days.

Iran claims that the UAV -- a relatively commonplace low-cost flier model called "ScanEagle", built by defense contractor The Boeing Comp. (BA) -- entered its airspace, at which point it was forced to capture it.

The nation's state-run IRIB news agency carried a message from Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi who said he would use the captured flier as evidence at the UN of American violations of Iran's sovereign airspace.  He said he would file a formal complaint "via international bodies" against the U.S.

A U.S. soldier carries a ScanEagle to storage in the Middle East.
[Image Source: Gunnery Sgt. Chad McMeen]

Iran has not yet shown pictures of the allegedly captured flier.

II. U.S. and Israel Fight Silent War With Iran

Iran has been zealous in its accusations that the U.S. and its ally Israel have been carrying out a campaign to sabotage its nuclear and oil production facilities via assassinations, cyberattacks, and traditional espionage.  

The U.S. intelligence community has responded with allegations that Iran has funneled money and weapons into the Gaza Strip, using the impoverished locals as soldiers of fortune against Israel.  

Gaza Strip -- thank you Iran
Militants in the Gaza Strip recently put up billboards thanking Iran for its
"support" of their military. [Image Source: AP]

There have also been unconfirmed claims that recent cyberattacks on U.S. banks originated in Iran.

Both the U.S. and Israel also have accused Iran of plotting to develop nuclear weapons, despite Iran's insistence that its nuclear ambitions are peaceful.  President George W. Bush, who initiated the preliminary cyberattacks (allegedly) against Iran's nuclear program, famously dubbed the Middle Eastern state as part of "the axis of evil".

Precisely a year, ago Iran captured a far more valuable target than a ScanEagle -- an RQ-170 Sentinel drone, flying on a surveillance mission for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).  Initially the U.S. expressed skepticism that the capture was real, but eventually they admitted that the drone was indeed captured and demanded its return.  Iran responded by sending U.S. President Barack Obama a pink toy replica of the captured flier.

III. Iran Has Filed Complaints to the UN

This October, Israel tracked a drone launched by Hezbollah militants in Lebanon, which invaded its airspace.  The Israel Defense Force (IDF) promptly shot down the flier, which they say showed telltale signs of being manufactured in Iran.

This November Iran and the U.S. filed complaints against each other before international regulators.  The U.S. claimed its UAV was flying in international airspace when it was fired on by Iranian warplanes.  The Iranians claimed instead that the drone had violated Iran's sovereign airspace.  It was unclear if that drone was destroyed in the incident, but Iran promised "decisive" action against future intrusions.

UN Assembly
Iran has complained to the UN about alleged U.S. violations of its sovereign airspace.
[Image Source: The Pew Institute]

In his letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon Iran's ambassador to the United Nations, Mohammad Khazaee called the alleged U.S. airspace violations "illegal and provocative acts".  In the letter he claims that Iran has recorded seven different airspace violations in the Bushehr region near its nuclear plant.

IV. U.S. Navy Commander Denies Story About Captured Drone

U.S. Naval Forces Central Command has denied the latest Iranian claim of a drone capture, saying that all its drones are accounted for.  In a statement to Reuters, Commander Jason Salata comments, "The U.S. Navy has fully accounted for all unmanned air vehicles (UAV) operating in the Middle East region. Our operations in the Gulf are confined to internationally recognized water and air space."

The U.S. Marine Corps also makes use of ScanEagles, so it's possible that the Navy could be unaware of the loss if it was from the Marines, a semi-autonomous sub-branch.

ScanEagles are largely used to safeguard oil platforms against attack by pirates or terrorists in the Middle East.  The 4-ft (1.25 meter) fliers are made from off-the-shelf components and aren't exactly top secret.  They can be launched by catapaults mounted to vehicles or small ships.  The catapults can also be positioned as a tripod-like ground-based launcher.

A catapault launch of a SkyEagle [Image Source: AFP/USMC]

Once in flight the drone flies on pre-programmed routes taking pictures and video, aided by onboard global position system (GPS) circuits.  When returning to base the drone is snagged with a "Skyhook" system in which the drone catches a rope hanging from a 50-ft (16-meter) high pole.

If Iran did "capture" the drone (which the U.S. currently denies) it may have done it by broadcasting fake GPS signals to the flier.  That's allegedly how the Iranians "hacked" the RQ-170 flier to land in a specially designated capture site.

The incident comes at a time when Israel is putting pressure on the U.S. to respond with harsher sanctions and more decisive efforts to halt Iran's nuclear ambitions.  Israel has threatened to launch missile or bomber attacks against Iran's nuclear sites if the U.S. fails to satisfactorily halt the development.  Iran has promised it would respond to any such assault.

Source: Reuters

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Here We Go Again
By th3pwn3r on 12/4/2012 2:20:25 PM , Rating: 2
Deny, deny, deny. If you deny it enough times then it never happened.

RE: Here We Go Again
By AntiM on 12/4/2012 2:39:55 PM , Rating: 5
It does seem unlikely they would successfully capture another drone exactly one year from the last one they captured. Since the US falsely denied it the first time, I'm inclined to believe the Iranians this time.

In other news, the US Government promises that the world won’t end on Dec. 21.

Like most other posters on that site, now I'm actually worried.

RE: Here We Go Again
By H0rnet on 12/4/2012 6:24:17 PM , Rating: 2
Well at least this isn't as sophisticated as the RQ-170 they captured. This could have been launched from just about anywhere in the area. It could have been used to spy on Iranian subs and mine layers.

On a different note, in the article they mention how there is a correlation between Israel and the U.S on the Nuke problem. Let's just say they do eventually use their nukes in some scenario, and it's something that even Clinton was/is afraid of. Given the size of Israel (9 miles wide at it's thinnest point). What would happen to the radiation fallout? It would go over the Palestinian governed areas, onto Jordan, or north onto Syria. Nukes are a regional problem anyway you slice it.

RE: Here We Go Again
By Cypherdude1 on 12/4/2012 9:21:50 PM , Rating: 2
In other news, the US Government promises that the world won’t end on Dec. 21.

OK, so here's the problem. The US, French & Russian governments are all DENYING that the end of the world will come on December 21. If they're all denying this, shouldn't we believe it's actually going to happen?
America is not alone in trying to placate nervous doomsayers. The Russian government has made similar assurances to its people that the end of the world is not nigh, and authorities in France are planning to block access to a southern mountain which believers think could serve as a mystical place of refuge on Dec. 21.
Oh yeah, sure, those in power in France are keeping this mountain place-thingy all to themselves and not allowing all us poor people to get there. It's always the same!

RE: Here We Go Again
By Dr of crap on 12/5/2012 12:12:29 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe you should make a sacriface to the gods so that you might live through to 12/22/2012!

That you even believe any of the crap - remember Y2K and the crap that was believed to happen then?????

RE: Here We Go Again
By drycrust3 on 12/7/2012 5:46:51 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe you should make a sacriface to the gods so that you might live through to 12/22/2012!

I was wondering whether, for purely economic reasons of course, as to whether you should delay buying next year's diary until the 22nd. After all ... they aren't going to be any cheaper before then ... and you wouldn't want to waste that money would you.

And in completely unrelated news
By inperfectdarkness on 12/5/2012 2:27:51 AM , Rating: 1
F**k Iran. F**k them right in their terrorist-sponsoring, human-rights abusing, religiously-overzealous collective-a**es.

RE: And in completely unrelated news
By Tupoun on 12/5/2012 8:48:25 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah .. because the glorious US allies in the area like Saudi Arabia, Quatar and UAE are bastions of human rights, non-terrorist sponsorship (those Salafists are not paid by them, not at all) and their zeal for Allah is just superficial.

Difference between them and Iran is just the way they trade the oil and with/to whom. The nuclear capacity Iran has ... well Israel threatens them with an attack each and every say and they have their nukes ... soo? And Israel is not saint. The oppressed became oppressor, easy as that.

RE: And in completely unrelated news
By tamalero on 12/5/2012 10:23:54 AM , Rating: 2
Did you know, that almost every single extremist islamist problem.. was caused directly by US intervention?
they created Al Quaeda, and did Created so many dictators worldwide(including Iran's).. all due of their fear of the "damn red commies".

If you want to put the blame, start in your own backyard first.

RE: And in completely unrelated news
By Stuka on 12/5/2012 12:02:43 PM , Rating: 4
You can make the same argument about every terrorist, dictator or intolerant regime, or any person of any kind throughout history. What is your point?

The Allies created Hitler, Rome created Jesus, the Church of England created Guy Fawkes, Britain created the Minute Men, George W created Obama, IBM created Apple, Baby Boomers created GenXers. We should probably just stop doing anything to anyone, anywhere, always, 'cos something might happen.

Inactive people create every problem. By opposing action of any kind, you swing the door wide open for someone who is willing to take extreme action.

By theaerokid on 12/5/2012 4:27:57 PM , Rating: 2
I wholeheartedly agree with your last point, but you are woefully misinformed on one thing...

Rome didn't create Jesus. He did not incite any type of political upheaval and he avoided the political arena altogether. The Jewish revolts of 66AD and 132AD against Rome had little to do with Jesus. He was no political revolutionary and lumping him with Guy Fawkes is way off the mark.

By ballist1x on 12/6/2012 6:12:52 AM , Rating: 3
By inperfectdarkness on 12/5/2012 2:27:51 AM , Rating: 1

F**k Iran. F**k them right in their terrorist-sponsoring, human-rights abusing, religiously-overzealous collective-a**es.

Who are you talking about here USA or Iran?

Terrorist sponsoring? Yep in Afganistan about 30 yrs ago?
Human Rights abusing? Guantanamo Bay much
Religiously Overzealous? Sarah Palin.

Do you know why Iran dislike the US?

By Ammohunt on 12/4/2012 2:47:40 PM , Rating: 2
A scale model of one of these would be cool to fly in the park...make all the kooks don their tinfoil hats.

RE: Cool
By amanojaku on 12/4/2012 4:05:10 PM , Rating: 3
Probably why the Iranians are stealing them.

"Where does he get those wonderful toys?" /joker

RE: Cool
By topkill on 12/4/2012 11:50:23 PM , Rating: 2
Great Joker reference!!!! :-)

RE: Cool
By Jeffk464 on 12/4/2012 7:37:17 PM , Rating: 2
Scale? Its not that big you could go full size. You just would want to make it lighter and simpler.

Why is "invaded" in quotes?
By jmunjr on 12/4/2012 8:23:16 PM , Rating: 2
Sending a military aircraft into another nation's airspace without permission is an invasion. manned or not...

RE: Why is "invaded" in quotes?
By Dr of crap on 12/5/2012 12:18:23 PM , Rating: 2
Yea we would never want to do that.

Stop being so damn PC. I hate it and all that beleive in it! Spy on them all you want.

Iranian navy? airforce? really?!!?
What havoc we could do to them without using any planes or troops! I laugh when I hear about either of those two "forces" they are suppose to have.

RE: Why is "invaded" in quotes?
By xthetenth on 12/5/2012 5:04:05 PM , Rating: 2
So might makes right and the rule of law is for other people? Great. So now Saddam's invasion of Kuwait is totally kosher. I can think of other examples.

By Master Kenobi on 12/5/2012 5:33:57 PM , Rating: 2
Remember that history is written by the winners, and the winners get the option to prosecute for "war crimes". Not the other way around.

So it wasn't the NAVY...
By boeush on 12/4/2012 4:04:46 PM , Rating: 4
Yes, it couldn't have possibly been the CIA again? Or the U.S. Airforce, maybe? Or Special Forces? Etc.??

But at least the Navy has denied everything. Nice one; now pull the other finger...

RE: So it wasn't the NAVY...
By chromal on 12/4/2012 8:11:23 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, that was pretty much my thought. The CIA is operating UAVs out of Afghanistan and Pakistan (and for all I know, Iraq too). Could be them. Could have even been Israel.

By Hammer1024 on 12/4/2012 2:26:32 PM , Rating: 1
The U.S. Marine Corps also makes use of ScanEagles, so it's possible that the Navy could be unaware of the loss if it was from the separate section of the Armed Forces.

Err.... The US Marines are part of the Navy... While they have some autonomy, they are not a completely separate organization.

RE: Err...
By Spookster on 12/4/2012 5:46:50 PM , Rating: 2
The Marine Corps is only technically part of the Navy on paper. We don't generally talk to them unless we need a ride on one of their boats or need to get stitched up by one of their corpsmen or docs.

RE: Err...
By Envirotech on 12/4/2012 11:33:50 PM , Rating: 1

There is a bill to change it to"The proposal was simple: change the name of the Department of the Navy to the “Department of the Navy and Marine Corps.”

Excerpt from the page.

"Looking at this issue objectively, the Navy and the Marine Corps are two separate branches of the military serving under one department. Why not have equal representation in the department name? It only makes sense."

So the Marine Corps is a separate branch without a department name at least until this bill is passed.

Semper Fi

Not U.S. Only
By Shadowself on 12/4/2012 7:32:26 PM , Rating: 2
The Scan Eagle is not used by just the U.S. Other coalition forces are using them. They are all made by the same company but with sometimes slightly different equipment and capabilities.

Different from the previous unit, pictures (authorized or otherwise) of the Scan Eagle are all over the web. Iran could easily photoshop a dozen or so of those images to make it appear that they have a U.S. UAV.

If Iran got their hands on a real one, it could be
1) one that crashed elsewhere a while back and Iran is just dragging it out now;
2) one from coalition forces
3) one from a non Navy unit
4) one from the Navy

By OBLAMA2009 on 12/5/2012 7:10:48 PM , Rating: 2
why does the us lie about things like this. they lied even when iran put thier last drone on display. probably because what the us is doing is an act of war

they have actually captured it
By m.mehrzad on 12/4/2012 3:24:42 PM , Rating: 1
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