A year to the day, the Iranians claim they have another downed U.S. drone in their hands, despite the U.S. Navy's assurances that there are no missing U.S. drones in the Middle East.
The Iranian state news agency Press TV reported that a ScanEagle drone with a 10-foot wingspan, made by a Boeing subsidiary, was brought down while over Iranian airspace in the Arabian Gulf.
“The new U.S. failure in spying operation by this drone demonstrated that the U.S government, despite its high military and economic power and its dominance on the world political order, is not capable of confronting ... Islamic Iran, and Iran can easily undo all its plans,” Brigadier General Hossein Salami told PressTV on Tuesday.
Navy Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, who first reported bringing down the drone, told the Fars News Agency that "the IRGC [Revolutionary Guard Corps] has full intelligence supremacy over foreign forces' moves in the Persian Gulf."
The Deputy Head of the IRGC, Hossein Mohammad Sha'bani, also told Fars that this would be "a hard slap across the face" for the U.S.
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"The U.S. should wait and see the response to its blind intrusions and violation of Iran's airspace," he said.
However, the U.S. Navy flatly denied there were any drones missing in the Middle East.
"The U.S. Navy has fully accounted for all unmanned air vehicles operating in the Middle East region. Our operations in the Gulf are confined to internationally recognized water and air space," Commander Jason Salata said in a statement. "We have no record that we have lost any ScanEagles recently."
White House Spokesman Jay Carney also told reporters, "We have no evidence that the Iranian claims are true."
The Iranian claim comes just days after U.S. officials revealed to the Wall Street Journal that they have "significantly stepped up" surveillance of a nuclear facility in Iran, and also a year to the day when Iranians alleged having brought down a U.S. drone -- a Lockheed Martin RQ-170 -- the first such time the U.S. suffered such a loss over Iranian airspace. That time, the claim turned out to be true.
However, David Axe of Wired.com pointed out that ScanEagles, which are relatively small drones, are "ill-suited" to the type of reconnaissance the Iranians claim it was doing. "It's [ScanEagles are] more of a tactical system meant to extend the visual range of ships, commando forces and air base defenders," he wrote.
Rear Admiral Fadavi also told Fars, "Such drones are usually launched from large warships." Axe said that while the Americans do have a flat-top warship in the region, those carriers don't usually carry the proper launchers for ScanEagles.
And anyway, Axe wrote, "The vital [intelligence] work isn’t being done by Scan Eagles. That’s a job for Sentinels and other stealth systems. In claiming to capture one of the much smaller Boeing-Insitu drones, Iran proves nothing we didn’t already know — and prevents none of the real spying on Tehran’s nuclear facilities."